Articles Posted in Employment Discrimination

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What Do I Do If I Can’t Afford An Employment Lawyer?

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So many people think they can’t afford a lawyer. The prices lawyers charge are very high but also justified. However, most working people can’t afford that price. Additionally, if you have just been fired from your job you no longer have an income. So how can you hire a discrimination lawyer for your employment discrimination lawsuit? The answer is simple. You need to find a lawyer who will work on contingency fee basis. What this means is that he will get a percentage of any money collected from a judgment or settlement. If no money is collected, you don’t owe him anything.

The good thing about hiring a lawyer on contingency basis is that you don’t have to put any money up front. And, if the lawyer is taking your case on contingency fee basis, it is a good indication he believes he can settle your case for some money. So if you find yourself in a hostile work environment and you need to quit your job, don’t worry about saving money to hire an attorney. You just need to find one that works on a contingency fee basis and you will be okay.

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Do You Have To Keep Information Secret In Sexual Harassment Agreements?

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So many times people filed complaints of sexual harassment and other types of employment discrimination. As the case moves along many cases end up settling. Usually the employer wants to the employee to sign a confidentiality agreement as part of the case settlement. The terms of the confidentiality agreement usually prohibit the parties from discussing the details of the settlement or the amount the employee is being given. The exceptions being the person can usually discuss with his accountant, attorney and immediate family members–and those people must keep the terms confidential.

So what happens when people don’t keep the terms secret? Recently, a man settled an age discrimination lawsuit for $80,000 and signed a confidentiality agreement as part of the settlement. However his big mouth daughter posted the following on her Facebook “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver,” “Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.” Good move moron. The company then went into court and the Judgement was reversed–meaning dad has to give back the $80,000. So don’t go bragging about your settlement and stay off of Facebook if you settle a case.

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Sexual Harassment In College Increases

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The number of cases from students in colleges and universities in Chicago is increasing. There seems to be a large number of college professors who think the students are in their class to be preyed upon for sex. The professor has a great deal of power over the student. Even what seems like consensual relationships are not really consensual. It is sexual harassment under the law if this is occurring. As long as the student comes forward and says she felt pressure to have the relationship, it will be considered sexual harassment.

So what if anything can you do if this is happening to you? Contact a discrimination lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights. Your college transcripts and college life can follow you throughout the rest of your life and can affect your earning potential. Additionally, if you have to drop out of college because of the shame, it can have a real negative impact on your life. Don’t let college professors get away with treating you like this while you are enrolled and paying for an education.

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What Is A Constructive Discharge?

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There are a good number of employees who don’t understand what a constructive discharge is in Illinois. In short it occurs when an employee is the victim of sexual harassment or other forms of employment discrimination and quits. For purposes under the law the quitting is treated as a firing. So when does a quitting become a constructive discharge? That is a fact specific question and would require some analysis. In general a constructive discharge would occur when things got so bad at work because of the discrimination that any reasonable person would quit.

You can see the standard is very subjective and no two cases will be treated the same. This is where an experienced employment lawyer can help you navigate your options. It is very important that you not do something hasty at work regarding quitting. There are different strategies that you can employ that will help you increase your chances of having your quitting considered a constructive discharge. The most important thing to do is not sign any agreements when you quit as those could severely limit your rights.

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Damages At The Illinois Human Rights Commission

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So you case made it to the Illinois Human Rights Commission (“IHRC“) and you want to know what damages if any you can get awarded. Well under the law, you are entitled to a variety of damages if you can prove not only your case but the damages you actually suffered as a result of the discrimination. Remember the burden is on you to prove your case not on the other side to disprove the case. Because you have the burden of prove you must have a clear understanding of what is required and I suggest you speak with an employment lawyer.

So the damages may consist of actual lost wages. Those would be wages that you didn’t earn because of the discrimination minus any unemployment you collected or wages from another job. How far forward a Judge may award them will be up to the Judge and depend on the circumstances. You can also ask for attorney fees and any costs associated with bringing your case to trial. And lastly, you can ask for money to cover the emotional distress associated with the discrimination. If you have medical bills and prescription drug bills associated with stress, anxiety or counseling you can seek to have those reimbursed. The most important thing to do it seek out an attorney and discuss your options.

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Ozarks Electric Pays $95,000 To Settle Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

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Ozarks Electric pays $95,000 to a former employee to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit. The employment discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“) on behalf of the employee. According to published accounts Ozarks failed to provide an employee with a reasonable religious accommodation and then fired her because of her religious beliefs. Under the law, an employer must provide a reasonable accommodation based on someones religious beliefs. What is reasonable is determined by the Judge on a case-by-case basis.

In this case Ozarks denied the employee a requested day off to attend a Jehovah’s Witness convention and then terminated her when she chose to attend the convention rather than report to work. In this case what the company did is clearly a violation of the law. Asking for one day off for religious purposes would certainly be a valid and reasonable request. And you can see how much money this ended up costing the company. Better training on discrimination would help this company.

“Employees are faced with many choices throughout their careers, but having to choose between their religion and their work should never be one of those choices.” Said EEOC Attorney Faye Williams

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EEOC Settles Retaliation Lawsuit With Grand Central Partnership Inc. For $135,000

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Grand Central Partnership, Inc. pay $135,000to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“) after the EEOC initially tried to settle the case. According to published accounts the company unlawfully fired a black Rastafarian security officer for his 2010 complaints of threats of violence and racism and his participation in an EEOC lawsuit resolved in 2009. This would be considered retaliation and is a separate cause of action. A company cannot take any negative job action on anyone who cooperates with an EEOC investigation or complains of discrimination.

The lawsuit states a non-Rastafarian security officer threatened to shoot a group of Rastafarian officers. When the Rastafarians complained, a white security supervisor made light of the physical threat and implied the Rastafarians were at fault. As a result of all of this the company fired the security officer. Companies should spend more time and money on training employees how to behave. Additionally the company should train human resources and management on what they can and cannot do relative to employment discrimination claims.

“When the EEOC enters into a consent decree, it will remain involved to assure that an employer does not punish those who complained about discrimination.” said EEOC Attorney Elizabeth Grossman

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J. A. Thomas & Associates Pays $350,000 To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

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J.A. Thomas & Associates will pay a very large amount of money to settle a discrimination lawsuit. The employment discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“). According to public records, the company will pay $350,000 in back pay and compensatory damages to a former employee who alleged that the company did not rehire her due to her disability.

What makes this case so horrible is that the person that was not rehired was a bilateral amputee. You can see how expensive it is when employers refuse to follow basic employment law. In addition to the monetary payment, J.A. Thomas agrees to provide discrimination training to all its employees.

“This is a favorable resolution for everyone,” explained EEOC trial attorney Lauren Gibbs Burstein. “J.A. Thomas’s willingness to resolve this case without a trial is commendable.”

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Dura Automotive Systems Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $750,000

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Dura Automotive Systems settles a discrimination lawsuit for $750,000. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“) under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA“). According to published accounts the company tested all employees for 12 substances, including certain legally prescribed drugs. This is a violation of the ADA. It is okay to test for illegal drugs like cocaine or marijuana but the company tested for seven legal medications that were lawfully prescribed for the individuals taking them. This is just crazy and I really can’t believe a company would behave this way in 2012.

Even more troubling than the testing was the fact that Dura required those employees who tested positive for legally prescribed medications to disclose the medical conditions for which they were taking prescription medications. And to make matters worse, the company made it a condition of employment that the employees cease taking their prescription medications, without any evidence that the medications were affecting the employees’ job performances. This is just crazy. And employees who did not stop taking medication that was prescribed by their doctors were suspended. A few stopped taking the drugs but then could not do their jobs and they were fired. The final straw happened when the company told the entire work force who tested positive under the drug tests.

“This agency will continue to enforce the ADA’s prohibitions against illegal medical inquiries and examinations of employees where they are not job-related and consistent with business necessity.” said EEOC attorney Faye A. Williams

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Vitol and Johnson Controls Settle Retaliation Lawsuit For $62,500

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Two companies, VItol Inc. and Johnson Controls, Inc. pay $62,500 to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“) claiming the companies engaged in retaliation. According to published accounts the companies unlawfully fired an employee for filing a sex discrimination charge against Vitol. What happened was Lucinda Gonzalez was executive secretary to the president at Vitoal. She was fired by Vitol in July 2008 and subsequently hired by Johnson Controls as a sales assistant.

In late 2008, Gonzalez filed a charge of sex discrimination with the EEOC in good faith against her former employer, Vitol. Shortly after receiving a copy of the charge and learning that the EEOC would not be investigating it further, Vitol forwarded a copy of the charge and the EEOC notice to management at Johnson Controls, where Gonzalez was employed at the time. The very same date that the charge and dismissal were received by Johnson Controls and reviewed by her supervisor, that company made the decision to fire Gonzalez as part of a purported reduction-in-force. I see this all the time where a company makes up an excuse to fire an employee who has complained about discrimination.

“Employees must be assured unfettered access to the remedial mechanisms provided by the EEOC to address discrimination in the workplace. Even if a charge, made in good faith, is not pursued, an employee must be protected from adverse action for filing the charge.” said EEOC attorney Jim Sacher