Posted On: July 31, 2009

Florida Settles Three Sexual Harassment Lawsuits For $225,000

The Flordia State Attorney’s Office settled three sexual harassment lawsuits for $75,000 each for a total of $225,000. The three women, Brenda Keys, Gena Duncan and Barbara Chase alleged that former State Attorney Steve Meadows sexually harassed and retaliated against them because of their complaints. Meadows is no longer the State's attorney as he was defeated in last Novembers election.

Keys’ and Duncan’s claims were investigated by the Florda State Human Relations Commission ("FSHRC") last year, which found evidence to support their allegations and cleared the way for the lawsuits to be filed. The commission’s investigative report mentioned Chase, which allowed her to also file her own lawsuit. The FSHRC is analagous to the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") in that it investigates claims of employment discrimination and determines if there is substantial evidence to allow the employee to file with either the state court or Illinois Human Rights Commission for trial.

“We looked at the individual claims, the HRC report and things we learned as we were investigating these claims,” Hess said. “We felt that the claim of a sexually oppressive workplace was going to be difficult to defend. We reached a settlement that we felt was fair to those women in the harassment claims and which we could live with.”

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Posted On: July 30, 2009

EEOC Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Luby's Restaurant For $135,000

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") settled a sexual harassment lawsuit against Luby’s Restaurants Limited Partnership, doing business as Luby’s San Antonio #19 (Luby’s), for $135,000 and significant remedial relief on behalf of a class of female workers who were subjected to a pervasive sexually hostile work environment for years.

The lawsuit alleged Luby’s with subjected female employees, including a teenager, to a sexually hostile work environment at its Floyd Curl Ave., San Antonio location. Specifically, the EEOC said that the women were subjected to, among other things, repeated unwelcome sexual touching, numerous sexual comments, as well as gestures and innuendo. The sexual harassment, which was allowed to continue for at least four years, also included a work atmosphere permeated with lewd and sexually offensive behavior, including restraining one woman in the women’s restroom while requesting sexual favors from her. Additionally, one of the female employees was forced to quit her job because Luby’s failed to take appropriate action to address the harassment.

EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Judith G. Taylor added, “Sexual harassment affects far too many workers in the service industries, but especially teenagers who feel they have no recourse and are especially vulnerable because of their age and inexperience. Every employer has a duty to protect its workforce from harassment.”

Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which also prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, or national origin, and protects employees who complain about such offenses from retaliation.


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Posted On: July 29, 2009

EEOC Settles Sexual Harsassment Lawsuit With Electrical Contractor for $175,674

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and electrical contractor T&D Electric Company of Burlington, N.C., agreed to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit for $175,674. The lawsuit EEOC v. T&D Electric Company of Burlington, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:06cv808, alleged that Tammy Holt and a class of female employees at T&D Electric were subjected to sexual comments, including remarkds about their bodies, clothing, sex acts and touching by the company's co-owner / president.

The alleged T & D Electric knew about the sexual harassment and failed to stop it and that as a result of the sexual harassment, several women were forced to quit their jobs. Sexual harassment in the workplace violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement with the company to eliminate these discriminatory practices.

"Sexual harassment by a company owner is especially egregious," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the agency's Charlotte District Office. "Employers have an obligation under federal law to ensure a work environment free from illegal harassment, to promptly investigate complaints, and to take appropriate corrective measures to stop this misconduct."

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Posted On: July 28, 2009

Scrub, Inc., a Chicago Janitorial Services Provider Sued For Racial Discrimination By EEOC

Scrub, Inc., a Chicago janitorial services provider, which provides janitorial services to the airline industry at O'Hare International Airport is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commissionn ("EEOC") for racial discrimination against African Americans in hiring. The EEOC claims although African American workers were a significant segment of Scrub’s labor market and applied for jobs in large numbers, they consistently made up less than two percent of Scrub’s work force.

Racial discrimination in hiring violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Scrub, Inc., Civil Action No. 09 Cc 4228) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division; the case was assigned to District Judge Suzanne Conlon. The EEOC is seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for Scrub’s discrim­ination victims. The agency also seeks injunctive relief, including rightful-place hiring of African Americans, training, and instituting policies, practices and programs which provide for equal employment opportunity for black applicants and workers.

“This employer’s hiring practices systematically screened out numerous qualified black victims, and we are suing to seek justice on their behalf,” EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru said.”

John Hendrickson, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago, said, “Assuring the freedom to compete for jobs on a level playing field is one of the fundamental components of the EEOC’s mission. Race discrimination makes free and fair competition impossible, and such discrimination is prohibited by the laws we are charged with enforcing.”


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Posted On: July 27, 2009

Dell Settles Gender Discrimination Lawsuit For $9.1 Million

Computer powerhouse Dell Inc. will pay $9.1 million to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by two female former employees, Jill Hubley a senior strategist and Laura Guenther a senior manager. U.S. District Judge James R. Nowlin issued a preliminary approval of the settlement in which Dell also agreed to hire an expert psychologist to review its employment practices and a labor economist who may recommend pay adjustments for female employees in some positions.

The lawsuit alleged Dell “systematically denied equal employment opportunities to its female employees” in compensation and promotions and discriminated against women in training, in assignments of positions outside the U.S. and in programs designed to accelerate advancement.

“We’re pleased to have it behind us and to move on,” Dell spokesman David Frink said in a phone interview. “The settlement allows us to focus fuller attention on our already strong diversity and equal opportunity programs.”

In Fiscal Year 2008, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") received 28,372 charges of gender discrimination. The EEOC resolved 24,018 gender discrimination charges in FY 2008 and recovered $109.3 million in monetary benefits for charging parties and other aggrieved individuals. In this case the EEOC was not directly involved however the statistics show how much gender discrimination still exists.

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Posted On: July 27, 2009

Maryland Board of Public Works Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $65,000

The Board of Public Works settled a sexual harassment lawsuit for $65,000 with an employee in the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.The employee alleged she was subjected to, sexual harassment, gender discrimination and a hostile work environment by the conduct of at least nine of her male co-workers while she was employed in the maintenance shop at the Baltimore City Detention Center from July of 2004 until May of 2007.

A hostile work environment exists when an employee experiences workplace harassment and fears going to work because of the offensive, intimidating, or oppressive atmosphere generated by the harasser based sexual harassment or gender discrimination among other things. As part of the settlement, the woman, who still works for the department, has agreed to dismiss her case with prejudice and release all claims against the department and the state of Maryland.

In Illinois, an employer may not terminate or otherwise take an adverse job action against an employee because of the gender of the employee. The policies and employment rules must be applied equally to all employees. Policies and employment rules which have a disproportionately adverse impact on one gender are strictly prohibited under both Illinois and Federal law.

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Posted On: July 26, 2009

EEOC Sues Ashley Furniture For Sexual Harassment, National Origin and Racial Discrimination

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a lawsuit against Ashley Furniture also known as Phil Vinar Furniture Inc., in Moline Illinois alleging Ashley's discriminated against employees and job applicants in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"). The lawsuit involves approximately 30 to 35 people including employees and job applicants.The lawsuit alleges Ashley's discriminated against Jacqueline Foster because of sexual harassment and also violated the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") by harassing Foster because of her disability and by refusing to provide her with a reasonable accommodation. The EEOC says Ashleys's retaliated against her and others for complaining about sexual harassment.

The lawsuit claims Ashley's engaged in racial and national origin discriminated against a class of African-American and Hispanic applicants by refusing to hire them because of their race and national origin. There is also an allegation that Ashley's violated the record keeping provision of Title VII by not keeping proper records of applicant and employees races and national origin.

The EEOC office in Chicago files about 30 cases of discrimination a year in Illinois.

The EEOC claims Ashleys violated the ADA by denying Foster and another employee health insurance benefits because of their disabilities, that the store engaged in retaliation against Foster in violation of the ADA by firing her after she engaged in protected activity and that the store violated the ADA by commingling employee medical records and personnel records.

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Posted On: July 25, 2009

EEOC Settles ADA Lawsuit Against Medical Health Group For $125,000

The EEOC alleged that Medical Health Group, Inc., violated the Americans with Disabilties Act ("ADA") when it refused to return an employee, Barbara Metzger, to work after she had recovered from breast cancer surgery. Metzger was had been with the group for 25 years.
About one week before her approved medical leave ended, Metzger was called into work on May 31, 2007. She told her employer the she intended to work without interruption while undergoing her remaining chemotherapy sessions and radiation therapy for her cancer.

The practice administrator then cited examples of people she knew whose cancer treatments made them too sick to work. At the meeting, Metzger was presented with a termination letter that stated she was being fired because she was

“currently unable to return to work on a full-time basis. Due to the seriousness of her illness, and extended nature of the treatment required we must exercise our option to permanently fill your position.”

The ADA prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on assumptions and misinformation about a person’s medical condition. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. This trend among employers to discriminate against long time employees who are facing serious medical problems is troubling. When employers are facing serious problems due to a slow down in the economy or other business problem they ask employees to band together and help the company through its' troubles. However when the employee has the problem, they are cast aside like driftwood on the vast ocean withoug regard for the lifetime of service they have given the company.

“A woman who is bravely battling breast cancer has enough of a challenge without having to lose her job because of unlawful discrimination,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “The EEOC will stand up for the victims of this sort of bias."


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Posted On: July 22, 2009

Clay County Pays $450,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Clay County agreed to pay about $450,000 to an Deanne Cluckey an ex employee to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit that named assessor Cathy Rinehart, the County and a former worker as defendants. Cluckey alleged that Rinehart repeatedly allowed Steve Sutterfield, then an employee, to make sexually suggestive and offensive comments in front of her and other female employees. Cluckey claims she reported the comments to Rinehart and incident reports were filed but that Sutterfield was not disciplined.

The suit also claimed that Cluckey and other women in the office experienced gender discrimination in their compensation, travel arrangements and benefits. Earlier this year and as reported in this blog, another Clay County employee was paid $208,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit against Rinehart.

Many times a second lawsuit is filed after the first lawsuit is filed and facts become public. Other employees who were sexually harassed or otherwise discriminated against come forward and file their own claims.

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Posted On: July 21, 2009

Female Hard Hat Hits Glass Ceiling and Files $20 Million Dollar Lawsuit

Hardhat Bianca Wisniewski broke through the construction industry's glass ceiling and hit the concrete wall of sexual harassment. Wisniewski sued JPMorgan Chase, Total Safety Consulting and others in Manhattan Supreme Court for a harassment campaign she says began when she took over as safety coordinator at the company's 270 Park Ave. construction site in 2007. Following a period on disability, Wisniewski was fired from her job with Total Safety Consulting of Long Island City, Queens after complaining of the sexual harassment. This constitutes retaliation.

Wisniewski alleges elevator operator Steve Greco groped and propositioned her while her bosses brushed off her claims. According to the lawsuit, Greco harassed Wisniewski with lewd come-ons that repulsed the widowed mother of two teenage daughters. According to the Daily News Wisnieski said Greco made the following statements to her.

"I just want to take you to dinner, no f------," she says Greco told her while grabbing her around the waist.
"Everybody kisses engineer Steve," the suit quotes Greco as boasting. "This is a man's world, not a place for women to work."

In 1995, the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission issued its report on the employment of women at the highest levels of business. The Commission found that within Fortune 1000 industrial and Fortune 500 companies, 95-97% of senior managers were male. The Commission also found numerous obstacles regarding the advancement of women in business, including inadequate outreach and recruitment practices, lack of mentoring opportunities and the placement of women in positions within corporations where they are less likely to gain the necessary experience and contacts for future advancement.

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Posted On: July 20, 2009

United Healthcare Sued For Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Laura Valenziano an 18 year employee of United Healtcare filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") against United Healtcare alleging they discriminated against her based on her sexual orientation and also that they retaliated against her for reporting the discriminatory conduct of her manager. It all started when Valenziano received a new manager and met the manager in person. The new manager began to make inquiries into Valenziano's personal life and ask about her female partner. After these non-job related inquires, Valenziano began to be treated different.

As reported in the Windy City Times, "within two weeks of the performance review, Valenziano was put on corrective action, which meant that she had 30 days to improve whatever had been listed on her evaluation as poor or she faced termination. The mention of a demotion was removed from the copy of the evaluation she received after protesting the corrective action." This is usually how discrimination in the workplace happens. The manager will start to put the employee on some sort of "corrective action" or "improvement plan", shortly after the employee complains about discriminatory conduct.

“It was one of the worst performance evaluations I've ever had. Along with that I received the largest bonus I've ever received,” said Valenziano. “The evaluation mentioned my devotion to the job.”

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Posted On: July 19, 2009

Morristown Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For Almost $1 Million

Morristown information technology specialist Ann Marie Spagnola alleged her boss, Eric Maurer, subjected her to sexual harassment by exposing her to sexually explicit materials. She alleges was called into his office to remove a sexually explicit screen saver from his computer and when she reported this and other conduct to Morristown Mayor John Delaney, he responded angrily each time. As a result of this action Spagnola submitted her resignation. Spagnola alleges there was a hostile work environement and retaliation as a result of nothing being done after she made her complaint.

After depositions were taken in the case it became obvious Morristown did not have a sexual harassment policy and that Spagnola had in fact been harassed and reported the harassment to the appropriate authority. Now eight years after Spagnola filed her first complaint and five years after she resigned, the parties settled for $981,990.

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Posted On: July 18, 2009

Kodak Settles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit for $21 Million

Eastman Kodak will pay more than $21 million to settle a pair of racial discrimination lawsuits filed by current and former African-American employees. The lawsuits were filed in 2004 and 2007 by an African-American group of Kodak workers accusing Kodak of discriminating against African-American workers when it came to job hiring, pay and promotions.

An employer may not terminate an employee, retaliate, or take other adverse job action because of race or color. Work rules must be applied uniformly to all employees, regardless of color or race. Policies that have a disproportionately adverse impact on minorities are strictly prohibited.

Kodak released the following statement:

PLAINTIFFS AND EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY ANNOUNCE SETTLEMENT OF RACE DISCRIMINATION CLASS ACTION

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Posted On: July 17, 2009

Michigan Settles Prison Sexual Harassment Lawsuits For $100 Million

Michigan will pay $100 million to settle a class-action sexual harassment lawsuit by more than 500 female inmates who claimed they were sexually assaulted, abused and harassed by male corrections staff. The lawsuit involving Scott Correctional Facility was filed in 1996 but tied up in the courts for years. Evidence in the 2008 trial showed a sexually hostile atmosphere in which women were groped, raped and subjected to inappropriate searches and other harassment by guards.

A jury in 2008 awarded 10 female inmates $15.5 million for abuse they suffered at the hands of male staff at Scott Correctional Facility in Plymouth. A second jury awarded more than $8 million to female inmates at another facility.

"It does not constitute an admission of liability, but a compromise of the disputed claims," Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said.
Whow, the State of Michigan pays $100 million to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit and it claims it is not admitting liability? Are you kidding? How much would it pay if it thought it were liable? Why can't they come out and say we screwed up, we are going to pay a huge amount of money to make things right and move on with running the prison properly.


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Posted On: July 16, 2009

Text Messages Help Two Female Soccer Players Settled Sexual Harassment Case For $450,000

Text messages were utilized by two female soccer players who accused their Central Michigan Univeristy coach Mr. DiTucci, of sexual harassment in securing a $450,000 settlement. The women alleged that the coach used manipulation to carry out secret sexual relationships with them. He also sent the players inappropriate text messages, which were used to help bolster their claims and settle the claims. This was first reported in April on this blog.

The two women, senior Sarah Burns and freshman Morgan Britt, alleged that DiTucci carried out inappropriate secret sexual relationships with the two players while he was the head coach. They also alleged that he sent players inappropriate text messages, lied to his players and to university administration and manipulated his players in an effort to not get caught.

Companies like Paraben are able to pull text messagse off a cell-phone even after they have been deleted and authenticate them for use at trial. According to Wikipedia, text messaging, or texting is a colloquial term referring to the exchange of brief written messages between mobile phones, over cellular networks. If you are the victim of sexual harassment and believe you have text messages to support your claim, it is important to remember to tell your attorney even if the messages have been deleted.

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Posted On: July 14, 2009

Sexual Harassment Test

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Posted On: July 14, 2009

California Teacher Awarded $65,000 Plus Benefits In Age Discrimination Lawsuit

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") settled its age-discrimination lawsuit on behalf of Lawford Goddard, a former teacher at Bay Area Colleges. Goddard applied for an assistant professor's position at San Francisco State, where he had been a part-time lecturer since 1989. He had been teaching at Bay Area colleges since earning his doctorate from Stanford in 1976. A faculty committee placed him among three finalists for the job, but the school's dean chose another candidate.

In its lawsuit, the EEOC alleged the dean told the screening committee he wanted "fresh blood and new ideas" and had made comments about getting rid of "old '60s hippies" faculty members. The lawsuit claimed Goddard was more qualified than the winning candidate for the $65,000-a-year job and had been rejected because of his age, with amounted to age discrimination.

The university denied discriminating and said it had chosen a candidate who was more accomplished in his writings, had a superior overall record and had performed superbly since his hiring. The settlement contains no admission of wrongdoing.

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Posted On: July 12, 2009

Vail Corp. Settles Gender and Religious Discrimination Lawsuit for $80,000

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") says The Vail Corp. will pay $80,000 as part of a settlement of a religious and gender discrimination lawsuit. According to the lawsuit an emergency services supervisor, Lisa Marie Cornwell was harassed based on her gender and religion at Vail's Keystone Resort ski area. Cornwell was denied religious accommodations, was treated less favorably than her male colleagues and was fired in retaliation for complaining.

According to the lawsuit Cornwells supervisor Garcia ridiculed Cornwell for asking for scheduling accommodation so that she could attend her preferred religious services, and denied her requests while scheduling lower ranking officers for the shifts she requested. Also, Garcia created and tolerated a sexually hostile work environment where he and other male employees made offensive sexual comments and jokes in the workplace. Cornwell complained to various Keystone managers and human resource staff about the harassment and being scheduled to miss her religious services on Sundays, but no action was taken to resolve the problems. The EEOC alleged that Cornwell was fired in retaliation for her last complaint, made less than ten days before her termination.

“Title VII imposes an affirmative obligation on employers to accommodate employees’ religious practices and beliefs when possible. When Congress added this provision to the statute, they expected employers to cooperate with employees to work out some reasonable accommodation. The environment in this case, where the employee was not only flatly denied accommodation, but also ridiculed for even asking, is unacceptable,” emphasized Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office.

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Posted On: July 11, 2009

People Preferred Staffing Settles Gender and Retaliation Lawsuit With EEOC for $250,000

Preferred Labor LLC, doing business as Preferred People Staffing, which is a national employment agency chain agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to the lawsuit, Preferred subjected a class of female employees in its Worcester, Mass., facility to unlawful job segregation on the basis of sex and then retaliated against one woman for complaining. The EEOC said that Preferred restricted women to a narrow range of assignments and complied with discriminatory requests from its clients for male-only temporary employees which violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Law of 1964.

“This settlement is a stark reminder to businesses: A customer’s preference to be staffed or served only by workers of a particular gender is never an excuse to engage in illegal sex discrimination,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru.

U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV approved a consent decree detailing the settlement in which Preferred will pay $250,000 to women who were affected by the discriminatory practices. In addition, if Preferred resumes conducting business as a temporary day labor agency, it will be enjoined from engaging in discrimination or retaliation and will implement policies and procedures prohibiting those practices. Also, the company will have to conduct anti-discrimination training for its employees and managers and take other steps designed to prevent discrimination and retaliation.

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Posted On: July 10, 2009

EEOC Settles ADA Discrimination Lawsuit with Swissotel of Chicago for $90,000

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") settled a federal lawsuit with Swissotel for $90,000 thereby resolving a harassment and wrongful termination lawsuit.

The EEOC charged in its suit that Swissotel violated the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") by permitting two supervisors at its downtown Chicago hotel to harass, then fire the employee because of his developmental disability. The employee was repeatedly called “retarded” by his supervisors.

In addition to paying $90,000, Swissotel is required under the consent decree settling the suit to give ADA training to all of its Chicago-based employees, post a notice of the settlement at its Chicago hotel, and report to the EEOC complaints of harassment or disability discrimination and any actions taken as a result of the complaints.

Disability-based harassment, just like other forms of discriminatory workplace harassment, is against federal law and is tolerated by employers at their peril,” said John Hendrickson, regional attorney in the EEOC’s Chicago District Office.

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Posted On: July 9, 2009

San Leandro Settles Two Sexual Harassment Lawsuits For $187,500

The city of San Leandro agreed to settle two sexual harassment lawsuits stemming from complaints filed in 2005 and 2006 by Starlah Burke and Jennifer Acuna against then-Police Officer Greg Cannedy and the city of San Leandro. The settlements include cash payments of $92,500 and $95,000, and a pledge to use outside investigators if similar accusations are made in the future. In addition, the council adopted a policy to have outside investigators handle any future investigations of sexual harassment complaints against on-duty officers.

Burke and Acuna filed civil lawsuits in 2007 and 2008, respectively, in U.S. District Court against the city and Cannedy, accusing Cannedy of sexual harassment and civil rights violations. The allegations include, both women claiming Cannedy touched and stalked them. Acuna said Cannedy befriended her at her job at a local gym. He then appeared at her home in August 2006, entered uninvited, and groped her. Burke said Cannedy groped her during a December 2005 traffic stop, then made unwanted sexual advances and frequently appeared in uniform near her home over a period of several months.


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Posted On: July 8, 2009

Rise in National Origin Discrimination Claims Post 9-11

After the horiffic events of September 9, 2001, discrimination against Muslins and people of Middle Eastern descent has increased, including in workplace discrimination--such discrimination is known as discrimination based on national origin. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 "prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin." 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e. The United States Supreme Court has interpreted Title VII's use of the term "national origin" as referring "to the country where a person was born, or, more broadly, the country from which his or her ancestors came." Espinoza v. Farah Mfg. Co., 414 U.S. 86, 88 (1973). The EEOC guidelines give breadth to define national origin discrimination "as including, but not limited to, the denial of equal employment opportunity because of origin, or because an individual has the physical, cultural or linguistic characteristics of a national origin group." 29 C.F.R. Section 1606.1.

Another basis for discrimination claims based on national origin can be found under section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. Section 1981. In Illinois, the controlling case is Abdullahi, v. Prada USA Corporation, 520 F. 3d 710 (7th Cir. 2008), whereby the Seventh Circuit held that hostility based on national origin (in this case Iranian) might be based on the fact that Iran is regarded as an enemy of the United States or by racial animosity. In 2008 the EEOC received 10,601 claims of discrimination based on National Origin with cases settling for a total of $25.4 million.

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Posted On: July 7, 2009

Hayward Police Department Settles Gender and Sexual Orientation Lawsuit For $5 Million

Fourteen female Hayward police officers said they had faced systematic harassment based on their gender or sexual orientation announced today the case has been settled for nearly $5 million. The lawsuit stated that women were subjected to sexual harassment and those who accepted such advances were favored for promotions, and that a rumor mill churned out demeaning stories about female officers having sexual relations with multiple men in the department, often men whose advances had been rebuffed.

Lesbian officers were seen as targets for "conversion," the suit stated. Harassment against one officer included making her privy to a videotape that showed her husband, also an officer, having sex with a dispatcher. The women claimed that those who complained about the workplace conditions were retaliated against via demotions or denial of promotion, and in four cases were fired.

Casper said the amount of the settlement indicated the insurance companies "recognized the problems the city has historically had with women being treated fairly at the police department. Close to $5 million is not an amount paid unless someone has recognized years of wrongdoing."

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Posted On: July 6, 2009

Willamette Tree Wholesaler Sued For Sexual Harassment and Retaliation by EEOC

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") an Oregon nursery violated federal law when it allowed female employees to be severely sexually harassed and retaliated against the women and male co-workers after they reported the harassment. This is the EEOCs third such case against Oregon agricultural employers. Last October, the EEOC filed lawsuits against Scheimer Farms of Nyassa, Ore., and against Wilcox Farms, Inc., and Wilcox Dairy Farms Group in Aurora, Ore.

The EEOC’s suit charges that sexual harassment and retaliation occurred at the Molalla, Ore., facility of Willamette Tree Wholesale, which operates 140 acres of retail nursery farmland, including a garden supply store and business office. According to the federal agency’s investigation, one worker, a 38-year-old Latina, was taken to remote areas of the farm by the company foreman and raped repeatedly over several months. In addition to threatening her with termination and loss of needed income, the harasser physically coerced her with pruning shears, and made threats against her life as well as against her family. Ultimately, when she refused to be sexually assaulted yet again, she was fired.

Another Latina co-worker, age 35, faced daily sexual innuendos and propositions for sex as well as grabbing and touching. When she and her husband, who also worked there, reported sexual harassment by a crew leader, Willamette Tree failed to investigate or respond to their complaint. The EEOC alleges that the couple and her brother were terminated in retaliation for having reported and opposed sexual harassment.

“All sexual harassment isunacceptable, but what happened hereis unspeakable,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “This shows how dangerous a situation can become when employers are hostile to workers' rights andsexual harassment goes unchecked. There simply is no excuse for any employer tolerating this sort of worker abuse, and enough is enough."

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Posted On: July 4, 2009

EEOC Files National Origin Lawsuit Against Simon Property Group

Simon Property Group, Inc., a nationwide commercial property management company, violated federal law by subjecting Hispanic employees to national origin discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") charges in a lawsuit. Simon Property Group owns and/or manages various shopping malls throughout the country, including the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, where the EEOC said the discriminatory acts took place.

According to the lawsuit, a class of Hispanic housekeepers were subjected to a hostile work environment while performing custodial and janitorial duties at the Forum Shops. The harass­ment began in 2005, when the housekeeping shift lead was hired, and ended when he was terminated for reasons related to the harassment. The housekeeping shift lead referred to housekeepers and other Latino employees as “wetbacks,” “tacos,” and “burritos” and repeatedly told them to “go back to Mexico” – among other things. He also told the Latinos that Mexicans have “inferior intelligence and capability in comparison to whites, and that is why whites are in power.”

EEOC Regional Attorney Anna Park of the Los Angeles District Office, which has jurisdiction for southern Nevada, said, “The abuse of Latino workers will not be tolerated by the EEOC.

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Posted On: July 3, 2009

Illinois Supreme Court Expands Employer Liability In Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

On April 16, 2009 the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in Sangamon County Sheriff's Department v. The Illinois Human Rights Commission, that if any supervisor or manager sexually harasses an employee, the company is strictly liable for the sexual harassment. Previously and in federal court under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, liability was only imputed on the company if the supervisor or manager were the employees direct supersivor or manager. This case makes it easier for employees to hold a company strictly liable for sexual harassment and will make it easier for employees to prove their case.

In this case Donna Feleccia filed a sexual harassment and retaliation charge against the Sangamon County Sheriff's Department and Sgt. Ron Yanor. Sgt. Yanor was a supervisor but not Feleccia's supervisor. Feleccia filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and then with the Illinois Human Rights Commission alleging Yanor retaliated against her because she refused to engage in sexual activity with him. She also alleged the Sangamon County Sheriff's Department created a hostile work environment after she reported the discriminatory conduct of sexual harassment and retaliation.

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Posted On: July 2, 2009

University of Phoenix Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit For $32,500

The University of Phoenix will pay former employee Latrish Elaine Tarhini $32,500 as part of a settlement of a pregnancy discrimination claim. Tarhini, who worked as enrollment counselor at the school’s Houston campus, claimed that University of Phoenix management said she would not be in line for a promotion because she made an earlier pregnancy discrimination claim against the Phoenix-based company and its parent, Apollo Group Inc. This is a form of retaliation and is unlawful. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a lawsuit against the University of Phoenix on behalf of Tarhini in September 2008 in federal court, claiming the university violated retaliation statutes of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It is a violation of federal law to discriminate against employees who previously filed discrimination claims against their employers.

In the settlement, the University of Phoenix admitted no wrongdoing or liability, according to a statement provided to the Phoenix Business Journal. The “University of Phoenix is pleased to have resolved this matter. We are dedicated to providing a work environment in which our employees are treated fairly and with respect, and are recognized and rewarded based on their accomplishments. University of Phoenix is committed to providing equal opportunity in all aspects of employment and does not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind,” the university statement read.

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Posted On: July 1, 2009

Harrison County Sheriff Mike Deatrick and Harrison County Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $375,500

Earlier this month, a $375,500 settlement was reached in a civil lawsuit against Harrison County Sheriff Mike Deatrick and Harrision County stemming from the sexual harassment allegations. The settlement requires the county to pay for training for sheriff's department employees, including jail officers, in an effort to avert future employment discrimination. Harrision County is in Indiana.

Under the settlement agreement also known as a consent decree, inn addition to the cash settlement, the decree would require the department to hire a federal monitor to oversee its anti-discrimination practices for a period of two years and to conduct annual equal employment opportunity.

Deanna Decker and Melissa Graham, who had worked as dispatchers, filed their initial complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") in May 2008. Decker, 39, said in the complaint that the sheriff touched her breasts on numerous occasions and once put his hands down her pants. Graham said Deatrick left sexually derogatory messages on her personal cell phone and made similar remarks in person.
In a later complaint, both women said Deatrick engaged in retaliation after the first complaint in part by staring at the women while brandishing his drawn gun.

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