Posted On: June 30, 2010

PETCO Treats Employee Like A Dog And Now Pays $145,000 To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

PETCO Animal Supplies Stores, Inc. pays $145,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Nancy Buchner. Buchner had over 30 years as a pet groomer and was hired by PETCO, however the company failed to accommodate Buchner because she is deaf. Buchner claims management failed to schedule customers for her and other employees told potential customers that Buchner no longer worked for PETCO thereby making it impossible for her to make a living.

PETCO proceeded to unfairly penalize her during annual performance reviews for ineffective communication skills due to her inability to speak. Buchner quit the company after this type of behavior continued. When an employee is forced to quit because of discrimination it is called a constructive discharge. It is hard to imagion a company treating a good employee in this manner, perhaps that is why they paid so much money to settle this case. I hope PETCO instills a better training program for its employees and put in place better managers.

Olophius E. Perry EEOC attorney, said, “With the 20th anniversary of the ADA on the horizon, it is important to remember that employees with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations to ensure they have equal employment opportunities. Most often, as was the case here, the cost of accommodations is minimal.”

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Posted On: June 29, 2010

Adecco Staffing Pays $12,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

Adecco Staffing will pay $12,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a group of female workers. According to published accounts, a supervisor frequently made lewd and sexually offensive remarks to the female workers. He also allegedly rubbed himself against them, hugged them and slapped them on the buttocks.

The workers complained to Adecco officials but nothing was done to stop the sexual harassment. In fact, the company not only failed to intervene on their behalf but continued to assign female employees to work under the alleged harasser. Adecco then retaliated against one of the workers by firing her, while another was forced to quit because of the “ongoing and intolerable harassment. When a worker is forced to quit because of sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination it is known as a constructive discharge.

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Posted On: June 28, 2010

College Settles Retaliation and Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $50,000

The Community College of Baltimore County pays $50,000 to settle an age discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Sheri Chosak. Chosak was a 60-year old employee who was trying to get hired as a part-time English as a Second Language (ESOL) academic advisor but claims she was denied the job because of her age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") prohibits employers from refusing to hire or promote individuals who are 40 or older because of age.

This type of case illustrates why employees have to work hard to protect their rights and if they believe they are the victim of discrimination, they must fight. It seems in this tough economy many employers are taking the attitude that they can do anything regarding employment decisions and not be held accountable. Good for this woman and her ability to stand her ground and fight for her rights.

“Employers who refuse to hire qualified applicants based on age not only forgo the opportunity to hire talented workers, they also risk having to defend themselves against an EEOC lawsuit,” said EEOC Attorney Debra Lawrence
Posted On: June 27, 2010

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Yields $190,000 Settlement

EPI Advanced, LLD and Engineered Products Industries, LLC will pay $190,000 to settle a sexual harassment and constructive discharge lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Cathy Johnson. According to details of the allegations, both companies allowed Dean Miller and other male co-workers to sexually harass Johnson and seven other women. The women claimed that they were forced to put up with all types of sexually explicit comments and propositions.

Some of the woman claimed they were grabbed and touched by Miller. Several women quit because of the sexual harassment, which is referred to as constructive discharge. One woman quit her job after Miller phoned her at work threatening to sexually assault her in the employee parking lot. Although several complaints were made by victims to management, the company failed to properly investigate complaints and stop the misconduct. It is amazing that a company could let this type of behavior continue and do nothing to stop it. I bet the company is taking a different approach now.

Celia Liner, EEOC attorney, said, “The environment at EPI was simply intolerable. Women should be able to report to work and do their jobs without being subjected to harassment."
Posted On: June 26, 2010

Midstate Construction Pays $50,000 To Settle National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit

Midstate construction company will pay $50,000 to settle a national origin discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of four Latino workers. According to the lawsuit, Midstate subjected the workers to verbal harassment by a former supervisor because of their national origin.

In a case like this, witness statements can be very helpful in forcing a company to settle. Once a company sees that there are many people who witnesses the discrimination, the company is more likely to want to settle and not risk a large judgement at trial.

EEOC attorney Michael Baldonado added, “All employers should be vigilant that they are in compliance with our federal laws that protect all employees, regardless of where they come from.”
Posted On: June 25, 2010

Oak Tree Inn Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $75,000

Lodging Enterprises LLC of Arizona, which does business as Oak Tree Inn in Yuma, will pay $75,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to the lawuist Oak Tree Inn threatened employees with reprisals of reducing their hours or otherwise forced them to engage in a particular religious prayer ceremony in spite of their personal different religious views. The defendant, through its general manager, Carlos Paredes, derided certain religious beliefs of some of the employees, the EEOC said. He also attempted to impose his personal religious beliefs on employees. The unlawful discrimination created a hostile work environment and denied employees reasonable accommodation for their religious beliefs.

The lawsuit involved twelve employees and they will all share in the settlement amount. Theresa Hurtado was one of the employees and she was one of the driving forces behind filing the discrimination complaint with the EEOC. There seems to be more employers engaging in crazy conduct in the workplace. I believe some of this may have to do with the bad economy and a feeling that employees will put up with any behavior to keep their jobs. Good for these twelve employees.

EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill said, “Employees have a right to their own religious beliefs or no religious beliefs. Employees should never be subjected unwillingly to a supervisor’s religious views."
Posted On: June 24, 2010

Sonic Drive-In Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $55,000

Two Sonic Drive-In franchises pay $55,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the . Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of teenage female workers. According to the filed documents in the lawsuit Sonic routinely subjected teenaged female employees to abuse by a manager and others, including threatening one young worker with a knife. The EEOC also contended that this manager permitted and encouraged other male employees and managers to join in the harassing conduct.

The details in the lawsuit include Aracely DeLeon, a 16-year-old employee, who was forced to quit due to sexual harassment by the manager, and another young employee, Elizabeth Maxwell, then age 17, was also subjected to sexually harassing conduct by the manager. This kind of behavior against teenages is outrageous. The EEOC did a great job and held the company's feet to the fire.

“This lawsuit was filed in order to protect some of our nation’s most vulnerable and impressionable workers – teenagers who, often, are newcomers to the workplace,” said Jim Sacher, the EEOC’s regional attorney
Posted On: June 23, 2010

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Supervisor Settled For $159,000

A former California Conservation Corps supervisor who was fired for reporting sexual harassment has been awarded $159,000 in a jury verdict. The case involved 66-year-old Margaret Grodzik. She worked at the Corps for three years and was fired after she reported sexual harassment and other misconduct including retaliation.

During trial Grodzik testified that the female corps members were subjected to rape, sexual harassment and retaliation by their male counterparts and that many of the women suffered injury. The jury obviously found her credible and awarded her some substantial money. It is always nice to see someone stand up and take on their employer. Jury trials have advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is that a jury can put themselves in your shoes and feel your pain, whereas a Judge is more likely to become less emotional.

Posted On: June 22, 2010

Four Points Sheraton Sued For Discrimination Based On National Origin

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a lawsuit against the Four Points by Sheraton in Phoenix, of discriminating against an employee by subjecting him to a hostile work environment because of his Iraqi national origin. According to details of the lawsuit the man was subjected to continued and escalating workplace harassment and he was forced to resign as a result of the discriminatory conduct.

The employee Basil Massih was subjected to harassment which included mimicking Massih’s accent, ethnic slurs such as “camel jockey,” mocking Arab ululations, and taunting and jeering at Massih relating to news stories about Iraq and the capture of terrorists. The lawsuit alleges that Massih complained to a number of managers about the national origin harassment, but that management failed to take corrective action, and that the continued harassment resulted in intolerable working conditions for Massih.

“Employers have an affirmative duty to protect employees from discrimination and harass­ment,” said Mary Jo O’Neill EEOC attorney.“
Posted On: June 21, 2010

EEOC Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $724,000

The Minnesota Department of Corrections ("MDOC") will pay $724,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of 35 retirees of the MDOC. The EEOC alleged the MDOC violated federal law over an early retirement plan scheme that entitled employees retiring at age 55 to employer contributions for health and dental insurance until they were 65 but offered no such contributions to those who retired after age 55.

It still blows my mind that companies and organizations are not able to read and comprehend the fedearl discrimination laws. You have to wonder what types of people are put in positions of authority where they make such foolish decisions. This lawsuit is going to cost the taxpayers over a million dollars when the legal fees and time spent are taken into consideration. The EEOC is very vigilent in protecting the rights of individuals from discrimination.


Posted On: June 20, 2010

MRS Systems Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $130,000

MRA Systems Inc., a subsidiary of General Electric pays $130,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of 61 year old Louis Behrendt. According to the lawsuit MRA Systems gave Behrendt a lower performance rating, despite his successful job performance, because of his age. Additionally, the company failed to assign Behrendt to a position as a Production Control Leader 5 and instead awarded the position, which had greater salary potential, to a younger, less-qualified employee.

This type of behavior is against the law and usually can be proven with performance evaluations and other documents in personal files. In addition to not promoting him the company subjected him to unfair and heightened job scrutiny, gave him poor performance ratings and refused to promote him based on his age and in retaliation for his internal complaints about discrimination. Many times retaliation complaints are also filed with charges of discrimination.

"Age-based stereotypes about the abilities of older workers can result in older employees receiving lower performance ratings, lower compensation, and fewer promotional opportunities than younger co-workers," said EEOC Attorney Debra Lawrence

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Posted On: June 18, 2010

Starbucks Doing More Than Selling Coffee: Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $80,000

Starbucks pays $80,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Com­mis­sion ("EEOC") on behalf of Chuck Hannay who has multiple sclerosis. According to the lawsuit Starbucks failed to hire Hannay because of his multiple sclerosis which is a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA").

According to documents filed in court Hannay applied for one of six open barista positions but was never contacted for an interview. Individuals with less experience and availability were hired instead of Hannay. The only reason for the difference was the disability that Hannay had. It is hard to believe that large organizations don't have better systems in place to protect the rights of employees and potential employees.

“People with disabilities should have equal opportunities for employment,” said Regional Attorney Faye A. Williams of the EEOC.
Posted On: June 17, 2010

Blind Women Awarded $100,000 In Illinois Discrimination Case

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a lawsuit against Balance Staffing as a result of their hiring of Jocelyn Snower, who is blind. Once owner Robert Feinstein realized she was blind he revoked the job offer even though she had started to work for him. This was a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA").

In a case like this it is so obvious that the company was discriminating against the blind person. The EEOC is very vigilant about protecting the rights of disabled individuals. Revoking that job offer was very expensive for the company and the woman probably would have done a great job.

John Rowe, EEOC district director in Chicago, said, “Balance Staffing’s decision to fire Ms. Snower not only reflected poor business judgment, since she is an experienced recruiter, but it was expensive misjudgment -- to the tune of $100,000.”
Posted On: June 16, 2010

Lumber Supplier Biewer Cutting More Than Wood: Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $55,000

Biewer sawmill will pay $55,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit that took place as a result of inappropriate behavior at its Wisconsin sawmill. According to the lawsuit Biewer failed to prevent a sexually hostile work environment and sexual harassment. The sexual harassment occured to two female employees who will split the money. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC")on behalf of the two women.

The lawsuit alleged a Biewer supervisor repeatedly exposed himself to female employees over several years. The company didn't fire the supervisor until prosecutors charged him with lewd and lascivious behavior. It is really crazy that the company would allow a man like this to continue working even after he behaved in this fashion. It took criminal charges to finally make the company see the light. It was good the female employees hung in there and fought for their rights.

Posted On: June 15, 2010

Aveva Drug Settles ADA Lawsuit For $58,000

Aveva Drug Delivery Systems settles an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit for $58,000. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a 50-year-old woman with renal disease. According to the lawsuit the woman was discriminated by Aveva because Aveva fired the woman based on her disability.

The woman was receiving dialysis treatments for her end-stage renal disease and had a catheter in her arm that was used for the dialysis treatment. She injured her arm at work and required medical treatment forcing a leave of absence. Aveva fired the employee shortly after she returned from an approved leave of absence related to her disability. This type of action by an employer is not acceptable and will result in a discrimination lawsuit.

“We are pleased that EEOC was able to obtain appropriate relief for the discrimination victim in this case,” said EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Michael O’Brien.
Posted On: June 14, 2010

Age Discrimination Lawsuit Settled For $250,000

TIN, Inc., settles age discrimination lawsuit for $250,000. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of three employees over the age of 40. According to details in the lawsuit, the company took employment actions in favor of younger workers and adverse to the three workers who were over 40. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA") protects people 40 years of age or older from employment discrimin­ation based on age and from retaliation for complaining about it.

This type of behavior against older workers is not tolerated and will result in a discrimination lawsuit. Most of the workforce is over 40-years of age and usually older workers make more money because they have more experience. Some business owners believe they can cut costs by firing the older workers and replacing them with younger, less expensive workers. Employers beware if this is your strategy.

“Workers over 40 often possess extensive job experience and skills, yet are still vulnerable to discrimination,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “Employers must look beyond age when making life-changing decisions for employees such as hiring and firing.”
Posted On: June 13, 2010

Filing A Sexual Harassment Complaint With The Illinois Department of Human Rights

My website lasorsalaw.com generates many inquires about sexual harassment cases in Illinois and throughout the country. Even though I have videos on the website to walk people through the steps of filing a lawsuit or complaint regarding sexual harassment, people still have many of the same questions. I hope to answer a few here with this general post. The first decision a person must make is whether to file a complaint of sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). With the IDHR, a person has 180 days from the date of the last sexual harassment to file a complaint, with the EEOC the person has 300 days to file a complaint of sexual harassment.

Another factor to consider is whether or not you wish to file a lawsuit in state court, federal court or have an administrative law judge at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") decide your case. Having the IHRC decide the case is the least expensive but may take the longest. Federal court is the quickest route to take but it is also the most difficult, expensive and employment law on the federal level favors employers in my opinion. It is important to discuss all options with attorney Peter LaSorsa and see which one works best for your situation. Sometimes the amount of time since the last date of sexual harassment will dictate which way to proceed. For example if you wait 200 days to contact my office, we will have no choice but to file with the EEOC.

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Posted On: June 12, 2010

Oak Lawn Illinois Female Awarded $4.1 Million in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Kimberly Passananti was awarded a whoping $4.1 million by a federal jury in her sexual harassment lawsuit. She filed the lawsuit against Cook County alleging sexual harassment by her supervisor. According to details in the lawsuit, Passananti was sexually harassed by John Sullivan at the sheriffs department. Passananti alleged during the trial that she was terminated from her position as deputy director of the Day Reporting Center.

During trial she accused Sullivan of spreading false rumors among colleagues that Passananti engaged in sexual relations with an inmate she supervised, made repeated unwanted sexual advances and called her "bitch" on numerous occasions. Passananti was fired and the reason given for her termination was that her position had been eliminated. However, a male was hired to replace her and the reason given to her was just pretextural. It is often called retaliation when someone fires you for opposing sexual harassment.

"Sullivan intentionally subjected plaintiff to unequal and discriminatory treatment by creating a hostile and abusive work environment that altered the condition of plaintiff's employment," according to court papers.


Posted On: June 11, 2010

Spencer Reed Group Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $125,000

Spencer Reed Group will pay $125,000 to settle a racial discrimination, age discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a 55-year-old white employee. According to the lawsuit Spencer Reed violated federal law by discriminating against 55-year-old Caucasian employee because of her race and age and fired her as retaliation for her complaining about it. She was treated different than the younger African Americans.

The white woman worked as a senior functional analyst for Spencer Reed Group since 2003, was treated differently in many ways because of her age and race. She was subjected to adverse employment actions such as unduly harsh discipline, denied training, given the heaviest and most difficult workload and forced to provide work reports on a weekly instead of monthly basis.

One of the woman’s co-workers, a lead financial management analyst, said she felt that the treatment indicated “prejudice.” Finally the employee complained about the disparate treatment, but she was fired as retaliation the next day, the EEOC charged.

Posted On: June 8, 2010

Metal Processing Plant Taken Through the Grinder--Pays $190,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Noble Metal Processing will pay $190,000 to settle a racial discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of non-white employees. According to details in the lawsuit, Noble repeatedly overlooked qualified non-white employees, including a group of black employees and a Bangladeshi employee, for promotions to the maintenance department.

Also included in the case was a white employee who opposed this type of racial discrimination and complained that managers in the maintenance department were using racial slurs was fired shortly after the company learned of his complaints. It is hard to imagion companies still behaving in this fashion given the amount of information that is available on discrimination. Once again the EEOC did a great job and held the company responsible. I see many discrimination cases based on non-white workers from countries in the far east.

“Noble should be commended for reaching a resolution despite its financial difficulties,” said Nedra Campbell, an EEOC attorney in the Commission’s Detroit office. Under the parties’ agreement, seven employees will share in the lump sum settlement amount of $190,000.
Posted On: June 7, 2010

Harley Davidson Dealership Gives Hog a New Name and Pays $55,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

The Dudley Perkins Company, the country’s oldest Harley Davidson motorcycle dealership, will pay $55,000 to settle a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Bowen Dean a female employee. According to the lawsuit, Dean was not allowed to work as a mechanic, while hiring less qualified men for the same position.

In many different professions that are dominated by men, females have a hard time breaking into their ranks. This is a classic case of a qualified female not being able to work in a job solely because of her gender. It is nice to see her pursue her rights and hold the company accountable. The EEOC also did a great job making sure she was compensated.

“Breaking into jobs in non-traditional fields continues to be a challenge for women, and despite the prohibitions on sex discrimination written into federal law in 1964, some sex segregation in employment continues,” said EEOC Attorney William R. Tamayo.
Posted On: June 5, 2010

Starbucks Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed By Teenager

Coffee giant Starbucks settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a teenager who claims she was subjected to sexual harassment by an older manager. The settlement comes less than a month before the sexual harassment trial. The settlement amount is unknown at this time as the parties signed a confidentiality agreement as part of the settlement which is common. The lawsuit alleged Kati Moore who was sixteen at the time she was working at Starbucks was sexually harassed by her manager and he attempted to have sex with her. Moore complained about the sexual harassment but Starbucks did not stop the harassment.

Moore's case was featured on the television investigative series "20/20" as part of an investigation into the sexual harassment of teens in the workplace. In seems to be a more common occurance in the workplace where young vulnerable female workers are under the control of poorly trained male managers.

Posted On: June 3, 2010

MRA Systems Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $130,000

MRA Systems, Inc., a subsidiary of General Electric, writes a check for $130,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of 61-year-old Louis Behrendt. According to the lawsuit MRA Systems gave Behrendt a lower performance rating, despite his successful job performance, because of his age. The lawsuit also claims the company failed to assign Behrendt to a position as a Production Control Leader 5 and instead awarded the position, which had greater salary potential, to a younger, less qualified employee.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals who are 40 or older when making employment decisions, such as promotions, job assignments and performance ratings. In a case like this, employment records and credentials may be utilized to show the qualifications and past performance of employees in an effort to prove age discrimination.

“Age-based stereotypes about the abilities of older workers can result in older employees receiving lower performance ratings, lower compensation and fewer promotional opportunities than younger co-workers,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence
Posted On: June 2, 2010

EEOC Settles Discrimination Lawsuit With Affordable Care For $150,000

Affordable Care coughs up $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment and racial discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of two female employees. According to published documents Affordable Care violated federal law when its affiliated dentist, Nelson Wood, engaged in sexual harassment and racially harassed two female employees. The facts were that Wood created a sexually and racially hostile work environment for Ariede Mills, who is African American, and Laura Carl, who is white.

The lawsuit alleged Wood referred to women as “whining bitches,” propositioned Mills for sex, spanked Carl repeatedly on the buttocks, made insulting remarks about blacks, and claimed that he had a relative who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. It is outrageous the a professional would act in this manner. Both Mills and Carl complained repeatedly about Wood to Affordable Care but the company failed to stop the harassment. To add fuel to the fire Mills was fired in retaliation for her complaints, and Carl was forced to quit because of the offensive conduct. Quitting because of that type of behavior is referred to as constructive discharge.

EEOC Attorney Markus L. Penzel said “The EEOC is pleased that Affordable Care worked cooperatively with us to resolve this case with minimal litigation."