October 5, 2012

A Hampton Inn Franchise Pays $85,000 To Settle A Discrimination Lawsuit

A Hampton Inn owned and operated by Century Shree Corporation, pays $85,000 to settle a national origin and racial discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts the company illegally terminated employees beginning in August 2009 because of their race, Caucasian, and national origin, non-Hispanic. You don't really see this type of discrimination case very often.

An entire class of employees, including Wendy Buckley, Ashlee Flannery and Dewetta McKnight, were discharged from the Craig Hampton Inn because management of the company subscribed to stereotypes that white or non-Hispanic workers were indolent. This is sometime referred to reverse discrimination because traditional discrimination involved minorities being the victims of discriminatory conduct. This case highlights that white workers have protection under the discrimination laws in Illinois and under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

"An employer cannot discharge or refuse to hire an individual based on derogatory stereotypical beliefs about that person's race or national origin." said EEOC attorney Mary Jo O'Neill
October 4, 2012

The South Loop Club Sued For Sexual Harassment

The South Loop Club in Chicago is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for sexual harassment, retaliation and constructive discharge. The lawsuit is the result of an investigation that revealed female employees complained to management about the ongoing and pervasive sexual harassment. And what makes matters worse, some females who complained were forced to quit, which is called a constructive discharge. Other females were subjected to retaliation and fired by management. One thing is sure, this case will not go away and probably result in a sizable payout.

According to published accounts owners and managers made frequent comments of a sexual nature to subordinate female employees. Sometimes with the tough economy, managers believe they can treat employees as they wish with no consequences. However, when women come forward and complain to the EEOC things end up changing. My guess is other women may come forward now that this is public and they realize the conduct they may have endured is not proper. There are strict time limits for filing complaints with the EEOC so they should consult with an employment lawyer at once.

"In today's economy, even people with jobs may feel vulnerable and try their best to put up with intolerable working conditions rather than attempt to find a new job. But no employee can be forced to endure sexual misconduct at work." Said EEOC attorney John Hendrickson
October 2, 2012

Mount Vernon Mills Inc. Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit for $70,000

Mount Vernon Mills, Inc. pays $70,000 to settle a sexual harass­ment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a teenage female emloyee. This is very troubling went it involves a teenager. According to published accounts two male mill workers subjected the teenaged female employee on the overnight shift to sexual harassment.

The sexual harassment included unwelcome sexual touching as well as crude statements and company-wide sexual rumors about the girl. Can you imagine how hard it would be to come into work every day and listen to that sort of stuff. When the company was made aware of what was taking place it did not stop the harassment.

"Employees absolutely have the right under federal law to work in an environment free of sexual harassment." said EEOC attorney Judith G. Taylor
October 1, 2012

Jury Awards $200,000 In Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit

A federal jury awarded $200,000 in punitive damages in response to a hostile work environment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The $200,000 was awarded to three employees who filed the initial complaint. The facts of this case are pretty wild and really hard to believe. According to published accounts the boss was racially harassing his African-American employees. The boss would use the N word and say that black employees were on welfare and other derogatory comments.

After several employees filed racial harassment charges with the EEOC, a noose was displayed at the AA Foundries workplace. I mean really, in this day and age people still act this way? In response to employee complaints about this noose, the superintendant described such reports as "BS" and stated the noose "was no big deal" and that "you people are too sensitive." Management at this company seems way out of touch with reality. I imagine that paying $200,000 is going to bring them back into reality.

"Whenever necessary,the EEOC will take cases into the courts across our nation to ensure the eradication of discriminatory workplace conduct. This is the latest in a number of successful cases the Commission has taken to trial this year." said EEOC attorney David Lopez
September 28, 2012

What Damages Can You Be Awarded In A Sexual Harassment Case

So my Chicago office gets calls all the time from people who want to know what damages they can recover if they file a sexual harassment case. Well part of the answer will depend on where the sexual harassment case is filed. If you are employed in Chicago you have three choices for filing. You can file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") or the Chicago Commission on Human Relations ("CCHR"). So which agency should you file your case with? Well it will be fact specific but here are some generalizations. As an aside if you file with the IDHR, they automatically cross file with the EEOC so in essence you get a two for one.

Filing with the CCHR gives you something that you can't get from either the IDHR or EEOC--punitive damages. Punitive damages are monies that are given to punish a company or person for the conduct. This type of damage is most suited where the conduct was so egregious that it would shock a normal reasonable person. So for example if the boss called you into his office and pulled out his penis, that would be such behavior. And if the company knew about it and did not take any action, this would raise the amount of money you may get. Otherwise, the IDHR and EEOC have similar forms of damage--except with the EEOC you can get statutory damages based on the number of employees. A good employment attorney can go through this information with you.

September 27, 2012

Genlyte Thomas Group LLC Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit FOr $30,000

Genlyte Thomas Group, LLC, pays $30,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of KeWanda Lawson. According to published accounts the company subjected Lawson to a hostile work environment because of the sexual harassment. Lawson was hired as a temporary employee and became a permanent warehouse lead within just a few months showing she was a good solid worker. Lawson was the only female in Philips's Dallas warehouse department which sometimes can be a problem.

Lawson experienced unwelcome and sexually vulgar comments, sexual advances and touches by the warehouse manager, Trent Bertrand, and other co-workers. She reported the conduct to management but nothing was done to prevent it from continuing. Lawson ended up quitting her job was is called a constructive discharge. If you are forced to quit your job because of sexual harassment it is treated as a firing for legal purposes.

"As the only female employee in the defendant's Dallas warehouse, Ms. Lawson was targeted for this crude and disturbing behavior by those with whom she worked." said EEOC Attorney Devika Seth
September 26, 2012

Chemcore Industries Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

Chemcore Industries, Inc. pays $30,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after attempts to settle the case prior to filing failed. Many times it takes an actual filing of a lawsuit to settle a case. As part of the settlement the company also agreed to train employees on discriminationl laws and the company will file various reports with the EEOC.

According to published accounts Chemcore fired customer service representative Marie Simmons within several hours after she disclosed her pregnancy to her supervisor. Talk about making it seem very obvious. An employee is protected from discrimination at work and cannot have a negative job action taken because she is pregnant. This company learned that lesson the hard way. You should not have to worry about losing your job when you get pregnant.

"Ms. Simmons, like other working females, had a right to start a family without fear of losing her job and the EEOC is committed to protecting the rights of pregnant employees under federal law." said EEOC attorney Robert Dawkins
September 25, 2012

Chicago Appeals Court Reinstates Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against United Airlines

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed the dismissal of a disability discrimination lawsuit against United Airlines. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and alleged violations of hte Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). The Court said that "reasonable accommodation" as defined by the ADA may require employers to provide employees with disabilities with "reassignment to a vacant position" when the employee cannot be accommodated in his or her current position. This is a substantial change in the way Chicago courts have interpreted the ADA in the past.

According to published accounts United violated the ADA by refusing to place workers with disabilities in vacant positions for which they were qualified and which they needed in order to continue working. This would have seemed a reasonable accomodation. Instead the company required these employees to compete for jobs on the company website. The company's practice frequently prevented employees with disabilities from continuing their employment. So in affect the company fired employees with disabilities even though the company had available jobs that these employees could perform.

"The Court's decision will have far-reaching benefits for individuals with disabilities who strive for economic independence and want to work." said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez
September 21, 2012

Delano Regional Medical Centers Pays $975,000 To Settle A Discrimination Lawsuit

Delano Regional Medical Center ("DRMC") pays $975,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of approximately 70 Filipino-American hospital workers. When you get this large a number of people involved in a settlement the numbers start to get big. The lawsuit was based on national origin and the discrimination occured in the highest levels of management.

According to published accounts Filipino-American hospital workers, mostly nursing staff, alleged that they were the targets of harassing comments, undue scrutiny and discipline particularly when speaking with a Filipino accent or in Filipino languages. Staff constantly made fun of their accents, ordering them to speak English even when they were already speaking in English. Some Filipino-American workers endured humiliating threats of arrest if they did not speak English and were told to go back to the Philippines.

This created a hostile work environment for the workers. To make matters worse, there was a meeting in which the chief executive officer and hospital management called only Filipino-American staff to a meeting and threatened them about the consequences of not complying with the hospital's English-only language policy. These crazy managers even threated to install surveillance equipment to monitor their conversations. Talk about some real odd ducks. These people sound like they need their head examined.

"Employees should never be targeted because of their national origin or language." said EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez

Continue reading "Delano Regional Medical Centers Pays $975,000 To Settle A Discrimination Lawsuit" »

September 20, 2012

Radio Shack Must Pay $187,000 To A Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Radio Shack lost a discrmiination lawsuit that was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). A jury returned a verdict in favor of David Nelson and awarded him $187,000. The lawsuit was filed on counts based on retaliation for his complaints about age discrimination. According to published accounst Nelson was 55 years old and had been employed for more than 25 years when Radio Shack assigned a new, younger regional manager to supervise him. Within four months of the new supervisor's arrival Nelson, who had a spotless performance record, was placed on two performance improvement plans. This is usually what a company does when they want to fire an employee.

Nelson complained to the human resources department because he felt he was being singled out because of his age. Within five days of the first complaint and more importantly before the period for assessing the improvement in his performance had expired, Radio Shack terminated Nelson in retaliation for his age discrimination complaint. And what is even more important, Nelson may be able to received double his lost wages because the jury found the conduct of Radio Shack to be willful. This case should serve as a warning and wake-up call to employers.

"It is particularly important for the EEOC to vigorously enforce the anti-retaliation provisions in the employment discrimination laws." said EEOC attorney Rita Kittle
September 19, 2012

Hill Country Farms Inc. Must Pay $1.3 Million To Settle A Discrimination Lawsuit

Hill Country Farms Inc., doing business as Henry's Turkey Service must pay $1.3 million dollars to settle a discrmiination lawsuit. The lawsuit wsa first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and alleged the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). The main claim is that the company paid 32 workers with intellectual disabilities severely substandard wages. Can you imagine taking advantage of people in this manner.

According to published accounts the company paid a total of $65 dollars per month to disabled workers while contracted to work on an evisceration line at the plant. This is very tough work and also dangerous. However the employees should have been compensated at the average wage of $11-12 per hour, reflecting pay typically earned by non-disabled workers who performed the same or similar work. Shame on the company for doing this. Some companies just care about profits and don't care how they get them.

"This case reflects the Commission's longstanding commitment to enforce the anti-discrimination laws nationwide on behalf of all workers, including workers with intellectual disabilities and other vulnerable communities." said EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez
September 18, 2012

Coffee Shop Settles Gender Discrimination Lawsuit For $90,000

Filterfresh Coffee Services, Inc., pays $90,000 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after initial settlement talks broke down. According to published accounts the company fired business development representative Kelli Easterling after she purportedly failed to reach the company's profit goals. On its face this would seem reasonable--however that isn't what really happened.

A male counterpart, who also had difficulty reaching the company's profit goals, was afforded greater opportunities by management to ensure his success. Another words, the man was held to a different standard than the female worker. And the firing was just a pretext for discrimination. A company may not treat men and women different in the workplace. When a company does, it ends up paying money to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit.

"The EEOC filed this lawsuit because the difference in treatment between these employees was clear, and a woman lost her livelihood." said EEOC attorney Robert Dawkins
September 14, 2012

Miles Kimball Company Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $95,000

Miles Kimball Company pays $95,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and alleged violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). According to published accounts deaf employee Laura Nejedlo was assigned to use a new software program for the company's computer system, but was denied her requested accommodation of a sign language interpreter for training and so could not fully utilize the new program. Under the law the employer must make a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. In this case the accommodation was very reasonable.

In a tragic turn of events Nejedlo was fired after 13 years of successful employment. It is really hard to understand how a company could treat a good employee this way. There are just no words to describe how silly and sad this is. I am happy this woman fought for her rights and didn't let the company push her around. Every employee has rights at work and they can fight back when the company engages in this type of activity.

"The recent ADA amendments have re-focused attention on providing reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities." said EEOC attorney John C. Hendrickson
September 7, 2012

Sexual Harassment In Chicago

The workforce in Chicago is diverse and under a great deal of stress due to the struggling economy. One thing that seems to be on the rise is the amount of sexual harassment that is taking place. So what is sexual harassment and what can you do about it if it happens to you? Sexual harassment is any unwanted sexual advance, sexual comments or other sexual conduct. Now one sexual comment by itself will probably not rise to the level of sexual harassment. However, that determination has to be made on a case-by-case basis. A good employment lawyer can listen to your facts and give you a better idea if what happened to you is sexual harassment.

If it is determined that the conduct rises to the level of sexual harassment you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). By filing with the IDHR, you will also have the complaint cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). This allows you to pursue your claim in the state or federal system. As far as damages are concerned you can ask for lost wages, attorney fees, money for emotional distress and any medical bills paid. Additionally, the company may have to hold special training on discrimination and sexual harassment for all employees. You have rights while being employed in Chicago, make sure you protect them.

September 6, 2012

Dura Automotive Systems Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $750,000

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
September 5, 2012

The Patty Tipton Company Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

The Patty Tipton Company settles a religious discrimination lawsuit for $5,000. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Megan Woodard. The problem began when Woodard, a college student, applied for a job from the company. Woodard is a member of a fundamentalist Baptist church and the female members are not allowed to wear pants.

Woodard was denied the position due to her request for the religious accommodation not to wear pants. This is a violation of the law. An employer must make a reasonable accomodation based on someones valid religious beliefs. In this case wearing clothing other than pants would not have affected her job performance and was a reasonable request. Although the settlement was not large it sends a message.

"Discrimination because of a person's religion is illegal and will not be tolerated." "Employers should be on notice that the EEOC will act aggressively to protect people from this type of discrimination." said EEOC attorney Laurie Young
September 4, 2012

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

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
September 3, 2012

Hostile Work Environments In Naperville Illinois

The work is demanding and you put in long hours but that isn't the problem. Your boss is constantly asking you personal questions and he calls you late at night. You know he wants a relationship with you-and he is married. Obviously he wants a sexual relationship with you. So what are your options? You are afraid if you report the conduct to human resources he will retaliate against you and you need the job. Do you have a claim or lawsuit? The short answer is yes you do. In Illinois this conduct would create a hostile work environment and would be the grounds for a sexual harassment complaint.

You would be able to file the sexual harassment complaint with either the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). If you file with the IDHR they will automatically cross-file with the EEOC so that is your best bet. This gives you multiple options. You will be able to file in state court, federal court or possibly proceed at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). The important point is to get the best evidence of the sexual harassment and keep it. This would be text messages, voice messages, emails and if the conduct occurs in front of other employees their names. You could also send the employee an email after the conduct occurs and ask them to comment on what they just saw. Then print out the response and keep it in the safe place.

August 30, 2012

Fry's Electronics Pays $2.3 Million To Settle A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Fry's Electronics pays $2.3 million to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts the company engaged in sexual harassment of a young salesperson. Additionally a supervisor was fired for standing up for her. This would be referred to as retaliation. This type of activity is troubling and costly. If anyone is singled out and given a negative job action as a result of speaking out about sexual harassment or trying to stop it, the company has strict liability.

The facts are that an assistant store manager harassed 20-year-old sales associate America Rios. The sexual harassment included frequently sending her sexually charged text messages and inviting her to his house to drink. This is bad enough but then what happened next was even worse. Her direct supervisor Ka Lam reported the sexual harassment to Fry's legal department and the company fired Lam. He was told that his termination was due to a decline in his performance despite the fact that his work was consistently commended. And for that the company had to pay several million dollars. Let that be a lesson to other companies.

"This was my first job, and I just wanted the harassment to stop. It really meant a lot to have my supervisor speak out for me, and it was horrifying to see him lose his job over it," said Rios.
August 28, 2012

ABCO West Electrical Construction and Design Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $23,000

ABCO West Electrical Construction and Design will pay $23,000 to settle a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Bill Hackney. According to published accounts the company violated the employment rights of Hackney, who has an amputated leg, when it laid him off because of his disability. This would be a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Hackney had requested a reasonable accommodation and was denied. Under the law the company must make a reasonable accommodation.

The retaliation took place when the company laid Mr. Hackney off after he asked for the reasonable accommodation. If there is any negative job action after either complaining about discrimination or asking for a right under the law it is called retaliation. There are a couple of important messages here for employers. First, you should take the requests of your disabled employees seriously. The discrimination laws in place are there for a reason. Second, if you don't take the law seriously, you will end up paying a price for it. Do the right thing and make the reasonable accommodation.

"The ADA protects disabled employees in every industry, including construction." said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill
August 23, 2012

Why File At The Chicago Commission On Human Relations

So why should you file your sexual harassment complaint at the Chicago Commission on Human Relations ("CCHR")? Well the main reason to file with the CCHR is they can award punitive damages. If you file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), they can't award punitive damages. This could be an important point if your case doesn't have a great deal of actual lost wage damage.

So for example if the boss is doing something very horrible like making you look at nasty porn and sending you nasty text messages but the result is not a loss of wages, your best bet may be to seek punitive damages. Additionally, many employment attorneys don't practice in front of the CCHR and therefore they may wish to settle the case quickly and not have to learn as they go. Remember that each case is different and it is important to discuss your facts with an experienced employment lawyer.

August 22, 2012

Wal-Mart Pays $50,000 To Settle Employment Discrimination Lawsuit

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. pays $50,000 to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit. The employment discrimination lawsuit was based on disability discrimination and was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts the company unlawfully fired a part-time sales clerk because of her cerebral palsy. This conduct is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"). As you can see by the settlement the company realizes what it did was wrong. These types of actions will cost a company money every time.

The details are as follows, Wal-Mart fired Marcia Arney rather than attempting to return her to her job following a medical leave related to her cerebral palsy. To make matters worse, she was a 22-year veteran of the company. Talk about not taking care of loyal employees. It is terrible that the company treated her this way. It is very important that employees protect their rights and don't allow big companies to push them around. There are laws in place for this very reason.

“Federal regulations explaining amendments to the ADA made it clear that many impairments, cerebral palsy among them, do not require a lengthy analysis to determine whether or not they are 'substantially limiting,' which is the standard for coverage.” said EEOC attorney Robert A. Canino
August 21, 2012

Gender Discrimination In Chicago

There is a term called the glass ceiling that needs to be discussed before we talk about discrimination against females in general. So if you look at the top management of most large companies you will see mostly white males. Even though females make up half of the population, they don't make up half of all top management positions. This lack of mobility to the top is called the glass ceiling. This my be result in a gender discrimination lawsuit against the company if it happens to you. Sometimes it is enough to show you are qualified or over qualified and the company only promotes men to prove gender discrimination in Chicago.

So what other type of evidence would be required in Chicago to prove you are the victim of gender discrimination? Well comments that men make about females that are negative would be an example. Also if the company is promoting less qualified men or only posting job's in such a way that only men apply and get them. The important point is to speak with an experienced litigation attorney who concentrates on employment law. The attorney will be able to discuss your facts and determine if there is a case. IF there is it can be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and they will automatically cross file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

August 17, 2012

Magnetics International Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $30,000

Magnetics International, Inc. pays $30,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Daniel Bewley. According to published accounts, the company was told Bewley could not work on consecutive Sunday's because of his religious beliefs. This would seem to be a reasonable accommodation for the company to make. Under the law an employer must make a reasonable accommodation for someones religious beliefs. What is reasonable is a matter for the courts to decide if it gets that far but there is enough case law to give good guidance.

The problem arose when the company scheduled him to work a second consecutive Sunday and Bewley refused based on his religious beliefs and his prior notification to the company. In a troubling event the company forced Bewley to choose between working the scheduled Sunday shift and losing his job. He attended his church service on Sunday and the company fired him. This all could have been avoided if the company would have made the simple reasonable accommodation.

“Federal law is clear that employers must make a reasonable effort to accommodate sincerely-held religious beliefs,” said EEOC Attorney Laurie Young. “Doing so is the best way to avoid lawsuits like this.”
August 16, 2012

Electric Company Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For$50,000

Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. pays $50,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed under the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") and was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts the company denied an employee a meter reader position due to an eye condition. Under the law a reasonable accommodation must be offered when hiring or promoting someone with a real disability.

The employee had a congenital eye condition resulting in blindness in one eye. However he worked for the company since 2004. He applied for the meter reading job in 2010 and the company made the unfounded presumption that he could not do the job because of his disability. However the employee had perfect vision in the other eye, was fully capable of doing the primary job duties of reading and recording changes in electric meters at different customer locations. In this case the person could do the job and therefore there was no reason to not hire the person for the job.

“People with disabilities cannot be excluded from jobs due to ill-conceived assumptions about their abilities.” said EEOC attorney Anna Y. Park
August 14, 2012

JES Personnel Consultants Inc. Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $80,000

JES Personnel Consultants, Inc. ("JES") pays $80,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") under the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). According to published documents JES refused to allow an employee to return to work because of his epilepsy. The company is located in LaSalle, Illinois and this would violate the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRC") as well as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A lawsuit filed by the EEOC would be based on violating Title VII and would end up in federal court.

The problem for the employee started after he had a brief epileptic seizure on his first day of work. The company allowed him to work the rest of the day, but asked him to provide a note from his doctor authorizing him to return to work after that. Even though the employee came by the next day with a note he was not permitted to work. This is not legal and will result in a lawsuit every time. I am glad the EEOC made the company pay. This type of behavior is not acceptable and not necessary.


“This case should be a reminder that employment agencies have obligations to comply with federal law against disability discrimination,” said the EEOC’s regional attorney.

August 13, 2012

Is A Boss Texting Sexual Messages A Hostile Work Environment In Chicago?

So my Chicago offices seems to be getting more and more calls from people who are getting sexual text messages from their boss. One of the first questions they ask me is what can they do? Well, in Illinois there is strict liability on the company if the boss is sending you sexy text messages because that would constitute sexual harassment. In Chicago this seems to be occurring at a high rate. Usually the boss is also trying to engage in a sexual relationship with the employee as well. An important point is for you to save the text messages and emails. Even if you delete the the text messages there is special software available that will allow my office to retrieve the deleted text messages.

What also happens is this conduct creates a hostile work environment for the employee and perhaps other employees. As you can imagine the poor person has to go into work every day and work with the same boss that is sending inappropriate text messages and is trying to put the moves of her. And of course the employee will feel like her job is on the line if she isn't at least nice to the boss even though she probably wants to hit him. The most important thing you can do is hire a good employment lawyer and file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and have it cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). This keeps both your state and federal options open.

Continue reading "Is A Boss Texting Sexual Messages A Hostile Work Environment In Chicago?" »

August 12, 2012

Chicago Options For Sexual Harassment Victims

Well you have three options if you are the victim of sexual harassment in Chicago. First you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). Or you could file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Lastly, you could file with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations ("CCHR"). I am going to discuss which of the three will give you the best opportunity to receive the maximum for your case. In order to do that I would of course need to know the facts of your case. So I will just give generalizations about what are the good and bad points of each.

Let's start with the IDHR. The good thing about filing with the IDHR is they will automatically file with the EEOC. The only time the IDHR does not cross-file with the EEOC is if the discrimination falls under the Illinois Human Rights Act and not Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. So filing with the IDHR gives you both and therefore it's a great option. So given that why would you file with the CCHR. Well the CCHR gives you something that the other two don't. With the CCHR you can ask for punitive damages. This is great in cases where there aren't a large amount of actual damages or the sexual harassment is so horrible that a large award my be necessary to stop this type of conduct from occurring in the future. One thing to keep in mind is that the IDHR must complete its investigation within 365 days so for a quick resolution that may be the best route.

August 11, 2012

Chicago Sexual Harassment Cases Involving Retaliation

The city of Chicago can be a beautiful place and also for some at work a place of horror. There seems to be an increasing number of bosses that believe they can prey upon their employees and engage in conduct which amounts to sexual harassment. As if were not bad enough, the bosses then engage in retaliation if the employee doesn't have sex or reports the behavior. This of course creates a hostile work environment for not only the employee being harassed but also other employees. Can you imagine what kind of signal this sends to the other employees? Have sex with me or you are going to get fired.

So what can you do when this happens to you in Chicago? The good news is you have multiple options. I prefer to file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") for two reasons. First they cross-file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). And second, they are mandated by law to complete an investigation within one-year. This provides leverage because the other side will have to file a verified response and therefore their position will be locked in.

And don't forget that the retaliation claim is separate from the sexual harassment claim so you have multiple options regarding that claim. The important factor in all of this is your evidence. It is very important that you keep all emails and text messages. These are generally what will be utilized to prove your case. Even if you don't have them, phone logs to be utilized to show a pattern of conduct that indicates sexual harassment. For example if the boss is calling you late at night and on weekends and he isn't calling anyone else during those times. And lastly, make sure you call an good aggressive employment attorney because you can bet the other side will have an attorney protecting their rights.

August 9, 2012

Toyota Dealership Pays $400,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Fremont Toyota pays $400,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after settlement talks failed. The facts of this case are troubling and it is hard to believe a big company engaged in this type of behavior. According to published accounts Fremont Toyota’s general manager singled out four Afghan American salesmen during a staff meeting, calling them “terrorists” and threatening them with violence. This type of behavior is troubling and illegal.

The men did what they were suppose to and reported the harassment to management. However once they did this they faced retaliation by the car dealership. The retaliation came in the form of additional verbal harass­ment and extra job scrutiny. If there is any negative job action after reporting discrimination, it is called retaliation. Finally, the salesmen felt they had no option but to resign--this is called a constructive discharge. The company learned the hard way that you can't treat people like this and you should have better discrimination training for management.

"The irony of this matter is that, after being labeled ‘terrorists’ at our old job, most of us found work with the U.S. military serving in Afghanistan protecting U.S. soldiers from the terrorists," said Mohammad Sawary, one of the former employees.
August 7, 2012

Caldwell Freight Lines Inc. Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $120,000

Caldwell Freight Lines, Inc. pays $120,000 to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of black applications who did not get hired. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The main case involved Caldwell not hiring black applicants because of their race, African-American. Illinois recognizes three races for the purposes of racial discrimination, white, black and Asian. Many people think Hispanic is also a category for the purpose of racial discrimination but it isn't. If you are being discriminated against because you are Hispanic, you would have to file a lawsuit based on National Origin or Ancestry.

According to published accounts Caldwell had vacancies for dock workers and accepted applications from approximately 51 individuals. Several black applicants had dock worker experience and were qualified for the job but were not hired. Instead Caldwell hired whites and other non-blacks for the jobs. What was probably the final nail in the coffin for the company was that a high level manager at the facility commented that he “didn’t want any blacks on the dock.” And finally, no blacks were employed as dock workers at the facility during the time this all took place. This would indicate something was amiss.

“Unfortunately, race discrimination in hiring continues despite the passage of Title VII nearly 50 years ago, and African-Americans are often the victims.” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes
August 6, 2012

Morningside House Settles Religious Discrimination Case For $25,000

In an unusual case, Morningside House pays $25,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit. This lawsuit was the result of a Muslin not removing her hijab and therefore not getting hired for the job. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). This could have also been a lawsuit involving national origin discrimination because of the what company did, but because the hijab is part of a religious practice, it fell under religious discrimination. In Illinois you could also file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") for both national origin and religious discrimination.

According to published accounts the director of health and wellness asked Khadijah Salim if she would be willing to remove her hijab if she were hired. The director expressed concerns that if she were hired, the hijab may interfere with her ability to work as a certified nursing assistant. However, Salim said she had worn her hijab throughout her nursing training, which included working in the operating room, and it had never interfered with her ability to perform her duties. This would indicate that there wasn't a problem with wearing the hijab. As you can guess she wasn't hired and the discrimination lawsuit was filed. It seems to me there was a different issue involving her being a Muslim.

“In this case, there was no undue hardship to the employer -- just an apparent overreaction to a reasonable request because of myths and stereotypes about a religion,” said EEOC Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
August 5, 2012

EEOC Rules Transgender EMployees Have Protection

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") had a recent policy shift and now recognizes transgender employees as protected employees. In Macy v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ("ATF"), the EEOC found claims of discrimination based on gender identity or transgender status are now actionable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. What employers should take away from this is that the EEOC is going to enforce this new protection. That means they will seek out companies to make examples out of.

This case came about because Mia Macy, who worked for the Phoenix police and who people thought was a man, applied with the ATF. However, during the interview process, she revealed she was in the process of transforming from male to female and the job offer was rescinded. This type of activity is now a violation of federal law. Organizations will now have to add this to the list of categories that are protected under the law. Many people think this would also fall into discrimination based on sexual orientation, which it could. The important fact is this; if you believe you are the victim of employment discrimination, contact a good employment attorney.

August 2, 2012

Automotive Group Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $50,000

“Dealin’ Doug” Moreland Automotive Group pays $50,000 to settle a retaliation and sexual harassment lawsuit. This was a little different type of sexual harassment case. According to published accounts the company fired a former employee in retaliation for her participation in a prior Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") sexual harassment lawsuit. Not only does the person who is being sexually harassed have legal protections, but also any employees who cooperate with the investigation.

In this case the worker was a long time employee named Lucille Fancher who complained to manage­ment about a sexually hostile work environment and was a participant entitled to a portion of the settlement in the prior sexual harassment lawsuit. However the company decided to tell her that if she took her portion of the settlement money she would be terminated and in fact terminated her. This is a violation of Title VII of the civil rights act of 1964. The company ended up paying more money to her and should have just left the woman alone.

“If companies are allowed to retaliate against employees just because they report harassment or offer testimony, or participate in the settlement of an employment discrimination claim, then we cannot expect people to speak out against injustice,” said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill.
August 1, 2012

Hostile Work Environments In Chicago

This question comes into my Chicago office all the time. You are working in an office in downtown Chicago and the office is run like a fraternity house. People are looking at porn, and always telling sexual jokes. To make matters worse, the bosses are always trying to ask employees out and have sex with them. Do you have legal protection under the law? Yes you do. This type of office would create a hostile work environment for all employees working in it. There would also be a sexual harassment claim because of the sexual talk, porn and the bosses asking employees out on dates and trying to have sex with them.

So what should you do about it? Contact a veteran employment lawyer and file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will cross-file with its federal counterpart the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). This allows you to keep both state and federal options open. It is my experience that if there is a large company involved the federal option will be best. The reason is there are larger statutory amounts that are available and if there are over 500 employees you can seek $300,000 in statutory damages. This will put more pressure on the company. The most important thing is to protect yourself and speak with a Chicago employment lawyer.

July 31, 2012

Huntington Ingalls, Inc. Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $80,000

Huntington Ingalls, Inc. pays $80,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts, the company fired Walter Strickland and Brian Glover after they provided written statements about another employee who was engaging in discriminatory conduct. Another words, they were being good employees and just speaking the truth.

When there is a hostile work environment at work and employees try to rectify the problem by reporting the conduct to management they are protected. In this case that is exactly what took place. These two employees were just doing what they were suppose to do. The company tried to silence those that came forward, which is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the end the company probably lost two good employees and had to pay a good amount of money.

“An employee’s ability to report conduct believed to be discriminatory without fear of reprisal is fundamental to creating workplaces free of discrimination,” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes
July 30, 2012

Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit Settles For $94,000

Belmont Village, L.P. and Belmont Village at Buckhead Senior Living, LLC, pays $94,000 to two former employees to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Oppor­tunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the two females. According to published accounts, assistant chef Joann Johnson and personal care aide Marcia Thomas, informed their supervisors that they were pregnan and they were immediately written up for alleged job performance issues.

And then both women were fired. Talk about not even trying to hide the fact that they were enganging in discriminatory conduct. The company was so blatant about it that it boggles the mind. In this case the company was wise to settle for the amount they did as the facts were overwhelming. You can see how much it can cost a company when they engage in discrimination against employees.

“The EEOC filed this suit based on evidence that pregnancy factored into the decisions to dis­charge the victims in this case,” said EEOC attorney Robert Dawkins
July 29, 2012

Retaliation By Employer In Chicago For Not Going Out With The Boss

You are at work doing a great job and the boss keeps asking you out. He is constantly at your desk and spends way too much time in your business. He is married and you know he only wants one thing--sex. This by itself is sexual harassment and you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and they will cross-file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). But there is more. What is going to happen in most cases is the boss is going to want to get rid of you. That's right. He is going to try and get you fired. Why you say? Because you aren't going to sleep with him and he is afraid you will spill the beans about him at work.

Additionally, he wants to hire someone else who may speak with him. The boss making up reasons to fire you is called retaliation. It is retaliation because you are rejecting the sexual advances. If you don't file with the IDHR you will run the risk of missing the window for filing. It is very important that you protect your rights and don't delay. My Chicago office sees this all the time. People wait too long and they can't protect themselves. Call an employment lawyer and learn your employment rights.

July 28, 2012

Chicago Sexual Harassment Federal Lawsuits

So you are in Chicago and your boss is engaging in sexual harassment. He keeps asking you out on dates and sends you inappropriate text messages. You are afraid to confront him because he is your boss. You also don't want to tell human resources because your boss has been there for 30 years and you are new. So what should you do? You seem to have a real problem. And none of this is your fault. You are a good worker and are always on time. You get along with co-workers and go the extra mile all the time. So what should be your next move?

Well you should call a good employment lawyer and explain the situation to him. Because the sexual harassment is being done by your boss, there is strict liability on the boss and the company. So after you talk to me then what? Well if we file a complaint of sexual harassment with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") we can then ask for a right to sue letter. The right to sue letter allows us to file a complaint directly in federal court. Now in cases where the conduct is embarrassing to the boss and company they are not going to want a federal court case. There are many reasons for this including the fact that the local newspaper will probably pick up the story and print it. Remember federal court cases are open to the public and most newspapers have local reporters who cover the courthouse as part of their job.

Continue reading "Chicago Sexual Harassment Federal Lawsuits" »

July 27, 2012

Kids R Us, LLC Pays $75,000 To Settle A Retaliation Lawsuit

Kids R Us, LLC, pays $75,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Shawna Capps. According to documents which have been made public, Capps was hired in July 2009 and told her manager she was pregnant in early March 2010. Under the law you cannot make any negative employment actions against an employee just because they are pregnant. A very short time after Capps told management she was pregnant she was demoted, but not because of job performance issues. This would be the basis for the pregnancy discrimination lawsuit.

Capps then filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC against the company. A very short time later the company transferred her to a new location that was much further away. This was done to force her to quit. As if that weren't bad enough, her cousin and sister also worked for the company and they were fired for no reason. It was obvious that this was all done because she filed a pregnancy discrimination case against the company. When this type of discriminatory activity takes place you should contact a veteran employment attorney to protect your rights.

"Pregnancy does not equal inability to work, and no employee should be punished for complaining about illegal treatment of a coworker; or worse yet, simply being related to or closely associated with a coworker who complains,” said EEOC attorney Patrick J. Holman.
July 25, 2012

Sexual Harassment By A Former Supervisor

So you are in Chicago and your supervisor is engaging in sexual harassment. You can't really say anything because you are afraid you are going to be punished if you do. The legal term is called retaliation. So in this case you would have a cause of action against the company because the supervisor engaging in sexual harassment transfers liability onto the company. However, what happens if the supervisor gets a promotion and still harasses you? Is there strict liability on the company at this point? The answer is yes. You should immediately call a good employment attorney and take the next step.

The next step would be to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and as long as the new harassment is within 180 days you can go as far back as you want because it is continuing harassment. Also the IDHR will cross-file the complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and this keeps your federal options open. It is very important to have proof and to save text messages and emails as your case will live or die based on this. You have to remember that the supervisor is probably going to claim you are just friends and he is being nice and not harassing you. This is where his own words on the text messages and emails will come back to haunt him. Remember, you don't have to be the victim of predators at work. You have legal rights.

July 24, 2012

Healthcare Company Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $193,236

Hawaii Healthcare Professionals, Inc.pay $193,236 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit. The age discrimination lawsuit was the result of the company firing the woman due to her age. The case was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Under the law if you are 40 or over you are a member of a protected class and cannot be treated different than younger workers.

In this case Carolyn Frutoz-De Harne, ordered the 2008 termination of Debra Moreno, a then-54-year-old office coordinator. The termination proceeded despite reports by the facility’s manager, who actually hired and supervised Moreno, that Moreno was a thorough and efficient worker. Another words, she was doing her job and there was no legitimate business reason for firing her. The real reason for the firing was Moreno's age. Here is the proof, Frutoz-De Harne allegedly ordered that Moreno be fired after telling the manager that Moreno “looks old,” “sounds old on the telephone,” and is “like a bag of bones.” That is terrible that a person in authority would speak about an employee in that manner.

“When I learned that my age was the reason for the disparaging remarks and termination, I was embarrassed and demoralized. For me, it was the ultimate blow. Age had never before been a consideration for me,” said Moreno.
July 23, 2012

Endoscopic Microsurgery Associates Pays $350,000 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Endoscopic Microsurgery Associates pays $350,000 in compensatory and punitive damages to three former employees who were subjected to sexual harassment by the chief executive officer and the chief financial officer. Whow can you believe people in this high a position were doing this to employees? Well apparently they were. The sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). These types of large amounts are rare but seem to be occuring more often. These types of cases also takes years before they get to trial.

According to published accounts receptionist Linda Luz was repeatedly subjected to unwanted sexual advances and a sexually hostile work environment by CEO Dr. Mark Noar and CFO Martin Virga. I bet these two are looking for new jobs. It always amazes me that people this high up can act so stupid. After Luz repeatedly rejected the advances, the company began retaliating against her by issuing to her unwarranted discipline and rescinding approved leave, which eventually culminated in her retaliatory termination. This also happened to two other women who worked for the company. Study coordinator Jacqueline Huskins similarly experienced unwanted sexual advances from Noar and Virga, as did nurse Kimberly Hutchinson.

“This verdict is significant because it reminds high-level officials who function as the employer that their high level does not give them license to abuse women – they must treat employees as professionals,” said EEOC attorney Debra Lawrence.
July 20, 2012

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Pays $20,000 To Settle EEOC Lawsuit

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company pays $20,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed under the American's With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Alisha Adams applied for the position of tire builder and received a conditional offer of employment. This usually means you have the job as long as you pass a drug test and background check. However that isn't what happened here.

During Goodyear’s post-offer medical examination, Adams disclosed that she had menorrhagia, a bleeding disorder associated with her menstrual cycle. As a result of this disclosure, Goodyear required Adams to obtain medical clearances from two separate physicians who medically cleared her to work. This by itself would seem extreme and a violation of the ADA. But there is more. She started working for Goodyear but three weeks later, Adams told her supervisor that she had a bleeding disorder and was fired as a result.

“The EEOC is committed to fighting discrimination in the workplace. Employers must be careful not to make assumptions about an individual based on his or her disability.” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes
July 19, 2012

McDonalds Franchisee Pays $1,000,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Missoula Mac, Inc., the owner and franchisee of 25 McDonald’s restaurants pays $1,000,000 to settle a class sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of females workers. According to published accounts male employees created a hostile work environment of sexual harassment against female co-workers, some of whom were teenagers. Whow it is really bad when they start to engage in sexual harassment against teenagers. And to make matters worse the company engaged in retaliation against those who complained about sexual harassment.

To show you how long these cases can take this case started in 2006. During that time everal male employees subjected female co-workers to sexual harassment. The sexual harassment included comments, kissing, touching of their private areas, and forcing their hands onto the men’s private parts. I guess they were making more than happy meals at this restaurant. The company did nothint to stop the harassment and forced at least one employee to quit--which is referred to as a constructive discharge. You can see how much money sexual harassment cases can cost if you try and sweep them under the rug.

“This is a sad case, demonstrating again that sexual harassment is still a challenge for women at some of our most successful, best known brands.” said EEOC attorney John P. Rowe
July 13, 2012

Joliet Illinois Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

You are working at a company in Joliet Illinois and doing your best to perform well. The problem is your male supervisor is trying to ask you out on dates and he makes it clear that he wants a sexual relationship with you. What if anything can and should you do? Well if the supervisor is doing it, there is strict liability on the company. If it is another employee you must notify the company and give them a chance to remedy the situation before there will be liability on the company. So in the example above, you should hire a good employment lawyer and file a sexual harassment complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR").

The IDHR will cross-file the complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). This gives you both state and federal options going forward. If you are successful at the IDHR you will have a right to have your sexual harassment case heard by an administrative law judge at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). The judge may award you lost wages, money for emotional distress and attorney fees. It is very important that you protect your employment rights and don't let the supervisor or company get away with forcing you to endure sexual harassment in the workplace.

July 11, 2012

Chicago Retaliation Cases At the Illinois Department Of Human Rights

So you are at work in downtown Chicago and you witness some type of discrimination at work and report it to management. You think that this makes you a good employee and you are following company policy. But ever since you reported the discrimination management has been nit-picking your work performance. In fact you just recently received a negative job performance and can't understand why. The reason you finally figure out is because you reported the discrimination and now the company is engaging in retaliation. What should you do? Do you have any rights in Illinois? The answer is yes and here is what you should do

Call a good employment lawyer and file a complaint of retaliation with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is mandated by state law to complete an investigation of your complaint within one-year. The IDHR will also cross-file your complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). This will give you the best level of protection and allow you to seek damages for lost wages, lost benefits, future loss of wages, attorney fees and money for emotional distress. The important point is to act fast as in Chicago and the rest of Illinois, you only have 180 days from the date of the discrimination to file with the IDHR.

July 10, 2012

Chicago EEOC Right To Sue Letter

So you filed a sexual harassment case with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and you want to know what is next. Well they will conduct an investigation at some point. The key words being some point. They don't exactly drop what they are doing and start the investigation. In my opinion if you want to have the case investigated file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") as they are mandated by law to complete an investigation within 365 days. And by the way if you filed with the IDHR they will cross-file with the EEOC so you get a two for one. Basically the EEOC is just the federal version of the IDHR.

So back to the EEOC. One reason to file with the EEOC is if you want to file a lawsuit in federal court. At any time after you file with the EEOC you can request a right to sue letter. The request must be made in writing and once received the EEOC will cease to investigate your case, will close out their file and issue a right to sue letter. The letter will give you 90 days from the date it was issued to file a lawsuit. If you file on the 91st day your case will get dismissed so you must file within 90 days. Federal court can be very tricky and if you try and file and proceed with a federal lawsuit on your own, you are going to have problems. If you have a good case, you won't have a problem finding a good employment attorney.

July 6, 2012

Best Western Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit For $365,000

Hotel groups Pacific Hospitality and Seasons Hotel, which does business as Best Western Evergreen Inn and Best Western Tacoma Dome paid $365,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit. The employment discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a group of workers. According to published accounts the general manager persistently harassed and denigrated women, including those who were minorities and had strong religious beliefs. This type of activity resuled in a multiple count discrimination lawsuit based on racial discrimination, gender discrimination and religious discrimination.

A group of female employees were subjected to the constant use of racial slurs and derogatory sex-based and racial comments, yelling and physical intimidation. Things got even worse for on employee who had a stapler thrown at her head. I can't believe this type of activity actually took place at a place of work. Another woman was told she was nothing but a welfare mother and should abort her pregnancy. There must have been some backward thinking people working at this hotel. To make matters worse the general manager also illegally fired five women after they revealed they were pregnant--which would be pregnancy discrmination.

“The women in this case were trying to support their families—to keep the lights on and put food on the table. Rather than being allowed to work, they were threatened, screamed at, subjected to sexist and racist slurs by upper management and had their religious beliefs belittled." said EEOC attorney William R. Tamayo.

Continue reading "Best Western Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit For $365,000" »

July 5, 2012

Sewing Company Settles National Origin Lawsuit For $75,000

B.J. Con/Sew Corporation pays $75,000 to settle a national origin harassment lawsuit. Apparently the company sewed itself into a corner and ended up having a lawsuit filed against them by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC'). According to documents which have been made public the company subjected an employee to harassment because of his Hispanic national origin. In Illinois Hispanic is not recognized as a race so you have to file under national origin, color or ancestry. The only three races which are recognized in Illinois are white, black and asian.

In this case the employee, Jason Ramirez, was forced to resign after the company failed to address multiple complaints that Ramirez made about the harassment. This is referred to as a constructive discharge. A constructive discharge occurs when working conditions get so bad any reasonable person would quit. It is treated the same as being fired for purposes of discrmiination claims. Ramirez, who has one Hispanic parent, was subjected to the harassment on a near-daily basis for two-years.

“There is no place for harassment of any kind in any workplace.” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes

Continue reading "Sewing Company Settles National Origin Lawsuit For $75,000" »

July 4, 2012

Guimarra Vineyards Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $350,000

Giumarra Vineyards settles a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit for $350,000. The multi-count discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). As part of the settlement the company agreed to institute a massive training program geared toward educating the mostly Hispanic workforce on sexual harassment.

According to published accounts a 17-year-old female migrant worker was sexually harassed by a supervisor while she was working in the vineyards. Other workers who came forward to her aid were subjected to retaliation. This type of activity is typical in company's anymore. They like to silence anyone who is not supporting the company position. In this case the company should have taken the sexual harassment complaint in a more serious fashion.

“We encourage all workers to report sexual harassment and retaliation with the EEOC." said EEOC attorney Melissa Barrios.
July 3, 2012

Holiday Inn Express Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $90,000

Holiday Inn Express pays $90,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after initial settlement talks broke down. According to published accounts, the hotel subjected several female employees to a sexually hostile work environment at the hotel. Additionally, one female employee was fired after complaining about the sexual harassment--this is called retaliation.

The three females subjected to sexual harassment were Tamara Byrd, Pamela Kral, and Billie Jones. Over a period of almost two years the hotel’s male general manager subjected the women to sexual comments and sexual advances. As if this were not bad enough he also touched the women in a sexual nature. The company did not take any of the complaints seriously and did nothing to stop the sexual harassment. This type of activity and behavior by the company is regrettable and will always result in liability. The company should have taken immediate action.

"Sexual harassment in the workplace will simply not be tolerated,” “An employer is obligated to maintain a workplace free of harassment.”said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes
June 30, 2012

Gannett Newspaper Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $150,000

The Jackson Sun, a Gannett newspaper pays $150,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed based on the Americans With Disability Act ("ADA"). The lawsuit was filed in federal court by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). In my opinion it is much smarter to settle cases like this prior to them ending up in federal court. Now there is a permanent record of what occurred. In Illinois and the rest of the country, you are required by law to make a reasonable accommodation for someone with a disability.

According to published accounts the newspaper fired a commercial print manager exactly one week after his return from a medical leave of absence. You would think the company would at least wait a longer period of time if they were going to pull something like this. The worker had sustained permanent spinal cord damage after back surgery. The newspaper could have accommodated the employee with minimal effort and that his termination was discriminatory.

“This situation and lawsuit, like so many others, could easily have been averted if this company had simply made a good-faith effort at a reasonable accommodation.” said EEOC attorney Faye A. Williams
June 29, 2012

Oasis One Dry Cleaners Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $43,000

Oasis One Dry Cleaners pays $43,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. According to published accounts the former female employee who was subjected to a sexually hostile work environment. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Usually in cases such as this, the EEOC will attempt to resolve the case prior to filing a lawsuit. It is usually in the best interest of the company to settle prior to having he lawsuit filed. There are many reasons for this including the fact that a public record of the case would not be available if the parties settled prior to the filing of a lawsuit in federal court.

Allegedly the female employee at Oasis Dry Cleaners routinely experienced sexual harassment from its general manager who solicited sexual favors from her. In fact he often approached her speaking in a suggestive manner and placing his hands on her body. This type of activity is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.


“I think this case is a great example of how the Commission remains diligent in its enforcement efforts to root out sexual harassment in the workplace.” said EEOC attorney Janet Elizondo

June 27, 2012

Something Fishy At The Fresh Market--Sexual Harassment Case Settles For $95,000

Well there is really something fishy going on at the Country Fresh Market, LLC. According to published documents, the Market settled a sexual harassment lawsuit for $95,000. That's a lot of tomatoes. The sexual harassment lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a female worker. The employee apparently worked in the meat department and was sexually harassed by the department manager.

The sexual harassment included physical touching,sexual comments and repeated sexual advances. This type of activity creates a hostile work environment and is illegal. The really bad thing is the company failed to stop the harassment and threatened employees with getting fired is they kept complaining. This happens a great deal of the time in sexual harassment cases. The company tries to circle the wagons and not let the truth come out. And the company tries to punish people who complain or come forward. Hopefully after paying this large amount of money and after being humiliated in public, the company will change their behavior.

“Employers must make sure that company officials, managers and supervisors take swift action to stop workplace harassment.” said EEOC Attorney Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.
June 26, 2012

Oasis One Dry Cleaners Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $43,000

Two Lac, Inc. d/b/a Oasis One Dry Cleaners pays $43,000 and to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. According to published accounts the company subjected a female employee to a sexually hostile work environment. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the woman. Usually what happens is the EEOC would ask the company if it wants to negotiate a settlement prior to filing the lawsuit. In this case the company waited until the EEOC filed a lawsuit in federal court. That was a foolish move in my opinion.

Allegedly the female employee routinely experienced sexual harassment from her general manager who solicited sexual favors from her. This type of sexual harassment attaches strict liability on the company because it is from a manager. This manager also touched this female employee which is illegal. It seems that a great many people in supervisory positions believe they can do anything they want to employees. This not only hurts the employees but also the company. Just think how negatively this affects morale.

“Employees have a legal right to go to work every day without the anxiety of being subjected to harassment related to their gender.” said EEOC Attorney David Rivela
June 25, 2012

United Road Towing Inc. Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $380,000

Chicago area based United Road Towing, Inc. pays $380,000 to settle an discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 13 employees involved in disability discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") brought the multi-count lawsuit under the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). According to published accounts the company failed to provide reasonable accommodations to a class of employees with disabilities. Under federal law a reasonable accommodation must be provided by the company at the request of an employee. An example of a reaosonable accommodation would be if an employee needed a chair with arms as opposed to one without arms.

Apparently United Road Towing had an inflexible medical leave policy and practice of terminating employees with disabilities at the end of medical leaves rather bringing them back to work with reasonable accommodation. The company is based in Illinois but has offices and locations in Phoenix, San Diego, Indianapolis, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The discrimination took place in all locations and resulted in the payment of a large amount of money.

"The purpose of the ADA is to allow persons with disabilities to be productive members of the work force,” said EEOC Attorney John Hendrickson “A company cannot thwart this purpose by depriving disabled workers of the accom­modations they need to remain active workers.”
June 23, 2012

Villa Galleria Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $23,000

Villa Galleria will pay $23,000 and to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of employee Edwonder Hobson. According to published accounts Hobson was subjected to sexual harassment by assistant supervisor Brian Jones. In Illinois there is strict liability on the company if the sexual harassment is performed by a member of management.

The sexual harassment included Jones rubbing his body against Hobson’s and attempting to put his hands up her shirt and kiss her. This type of sexual harassment borders on an actual sexual assault and could have resulted in criminal charges. I can't believe the company didn't immediately step in and stop this type of activity. In my opinion the company got off real cheap.

“Enforcing laws prohibiting sex harassment in the workplace is at the forefront of the EEOC’s mission to eradicate unlawful employment discrimination.” said EEOC attorney Barbara A. Seely
June 22, 2012

Bakery Settles Discrimination Case for $20,000

Savory Fare Bakery and Café pays $20,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Laura Mitchell. According to published accounts of the lawsuit, Mitchell had a speech and hearing impediment and the company denied her job training or a promotion because of this. You may not treat a person different just because they have a disability.

The actions of the bakery violated Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). This poor woman was a dishwasher and wanted to be promoted to cashier after working hard for the company. Instead of promoting her, she was forced to quit when the work environment became unbearable. Forcing someone to quit is called a constructive discharge. By not allowing her to train and then get promoted to the new position the company also created a hostile work environment for Mitchell.

“Employers must make employment decisions based upon the abilities of their applicants and employees, not based on myths, fears or stereotypes about a person’s disability." said EEOC attorney Mary Jo O'Neill
June 20, 2012

John Hopkins Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $160,000

Johns Hopkins Home Care Group, Inc. ("JHHCG") pays $160,000 to settle an Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts JHHCG violated the ADA when it discriminated against an employee because of her disability--breast cancer. The complaint also alleged the company failed to provide her with a reasonable accommodation for her disability. If that were not bad enough the company also engaged in retaliation when she filed her EEOC complaint.

The employees name was Ray Ellen Fisher, a registered nurse. Fisher was diagnosed with breast cancer and her medical treatment required that she take leave shortly thereafter. Following Fisher’s period of leave, when she was cleared to return to work, JHHCG failed to provide her with a reasonable accommodation that would have allowed her to return to work despite her limited restrictions – restrictions that were progressively phased out.

“Thanks to improvements in treatment and early detection, millions of women are surviving breast cancer today,” said EEOC attorney Debra M. Lawrence

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June 17, 2012

Hobson Air Conditioning Pays $37,500 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Hobson Air Conditioning Settles a sexual harassment lawsuit for $37,500. According to published accounts the only female employee Misty Kratky was subjected to frequently made sexual propositions by her manager. The manager allegedly asked her to show him her breasts and touched her inappropriately. This type of activity creates a hostile work environment and resulted in the filing of a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

After the sexual harassment began, she complained to management but nothing was done to stop it. The company should have taken the complaint in a more serious fashion and stopped the harassment. As a result, the company will now have this negative publicity and has paid a considerable amount of money. My Chicago offices sees more and more cases of employers who refuse to stop sexual harassment and as a result have complaints filed against them. The proper training and education of employees can go a long way toward stamping out sexual harassment complaints.

June 16, 2012

Hal Leonard Publishing Co. Pays $150,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Hal Leonard Publishing Co. settled a sexual harassment class action lawsuit for $150,000. According to published accounts the lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The EEOC alleged a class of women had to endure unwanted grabbing, squeezing and sexual innuendo--all of which amount to sexual harassment. The women complained to management about the sexual harassment but management refused to stop it. An intervention at this point would have saved the women a great deal of grief and saved the company some serious money.

In addition to paying the women $150,000 the company agreed to a three-year consent decree under which it apologized to the former employee who filed the original discrimination charge. The company also has to undergo training and will be under the watchful eye of the EEOC. It is always best to control your employees and take complaints of discrimination seriously. In this case the company could have avoided all of this by investigating the complaints and taking the appropriate action.

June 14, 2012

Whirlpool Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $1 Million

Whirlpool Corporation settled a sexual harassment and racial discrimination lawsuit for $1 million. The case was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Whirlpool violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it did nothing to stop a white male co-worker from harassing an African-American female employee because of her race and gender. The abuse lasted for two months and escalated when the co-worker physically assaulted the black employee and inflicted serious permanent injuries.

At trial is was proven that the black employee repeatedly reported offensive verbal conduct and gestures by the co-worker to Whirlpool management before she was violently assaulted. The troubling part was the company did not do any corrective action. This type of behavior by the employee and company is unacceptable. You can see how much money this cost the company and I am sure they will put mechanisms in place to ensure this doesn't happen again.

“Employers have a responsibility to address and remedy race and sex harassment in the workplace,” said EEOC attorney P. David Lopez
June 13, 2012

H & E Equipment Services Inc. Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $125,000

H&E Equipment Services, Inc., pays $125,000 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was first filed by the Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit alleged that the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by failing to promote and then laying off a female supervisor because of her gender. It is illegal to treat someone different based on their gender and it will always result in a lawsuit.

According to published documents in the case a branch manager offered a male employee a rental manager position that he denied to Kathleen Wooten, the rental supervisor. In doing so, the branch manager said that he didn’t think women could be managers in the construction industry. Wooten then complained of gender discrimination to management and was laid off and replaced by a male employee.

“Unfortunately, there are too many industries in which too many people don’t get the simple but crucial principle of equality between the sexes,” said EEOC attorney Mary Jo O’Neill
June 10, 2012

Whitehall Healthcare Center Pays $35,000 To Settle Employment Discrimination Lawsuit

Whitehall Healthcare Center of Ann Arbor pays $35,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit. The employment discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). In what seems to be an increasing type of discrimination occuring throughout the country, the company did not follow federal employment law. According to published accounts Whitehall discriminated against a woman, employed as a certified nursing assistant, because of her request for a religious accommodation. Under the law an employer must make a reasonable accomodation for a request based on an employees religious beliefs.

The employee was a practicing Jehovah’s Witness, and requested Whitehall not to schedule her to work on Wednesdays or Sundays so she could attend spiritual meetings and participate in field service as a part of her sincerely held religious belief. This would seem to be a reasonable accomodation as long as she were able to work the other days. The problem arose when Whitehall’s administrator fired her for not working on a Sunday.

“Federal law is clear that employers must make a reasonable effort to achieve an accommodation to solve a situation like this,” said EEOC Attorney Laurie Young.
June 9, 2012

Stevens Transport Pays $50,000 To Settle Employment Discrimination Lawsuit

Stevens Transport pays $50,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. The American's With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after initial settlment talks broke down. This happens in many cases. The settlement talks will end and then once the case is actuallly filed and the other side has to start paying attorney fees to defend; they decide to just settle the case. In this tight job market many employers feel they can flex their muscles and do as they please regardless of the law.

According to published accounts Andrew Scott, a paraplegic was denied employment for two management positions because of his disability. Scott had a bachelor’s degree in economics and management and a master’s degree in business administration and was initially contacted by Stevens Transport after posting his resume on a job search website. This would indicate he held the qualifications for the job. Scott was interviewed over the telephone and then offered an in-person interview. When he arrived at the interview, however, the company became aware of his disability and told him that there was some concern he would not be able to keep up with the pace of operations. He was not hired for either position and the EEOC complaint followed.

“Mr. Scott was very disappointed that Stevens stopped considering him as a viable candidate once they saw he was in a wheelchair.” said EEOC attorney Robert A. Canino
June 8, 2012

Starr's Mill Academy and Preschool Center Pays $40,000 To Settle A Retaliation Lawsuit

Starr’s Mill Academy and Preschool Center pays $40,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The employment law case was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts, Starr’s Mill subjected former employee Hazel Matthews-Forte to unlawful retaliation when it filed a lawsuit against her alleging that she made fraudulent statements about Starr’s Mill in her EEOC discrimination charge. This is a very troubling matter and will always result in a retaliation lawsuit.

In what I consider to be a wild serious of events, Starr’s Mill filed a third-party complaint against the attorney it had retained to file the lawsuit against Matthews-Forte. You never see this type of activity in a case. This just goes to show you that sometimes these cases can turn out to be real messes. The employer claimed that the attorney gave it improper advice on filing the lawsuit against the former employee. Glad the whole thing got straightened out.

"Cases of this type are extremely rare – employers generally don’t retaliate against employees after the employment relationship has ended, and certainly not by filing lawsuits against them,” said EEOC attorney Robert Dawkins
June 7, 2012

Chapman University Settles Gender Discrimination Lawsuit For $175,000

Chapman University pays $175,000 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Lynn Hamrick. According to published accounts of the lawsuit, Hamrick was an assistant professor for over ten years. Her basic allegation is that she was denied tenure because she is a woman.

To prove her case she was able to show that she was qualified and that male counterparts were given tenure while she wasn't. Cases like this usually come down to facts that exist in personnel files. This type of behavior is troubling for a university that is suppose to be enlightened and fair. You can see by the large settlement amount that the university realized it was wrong.

“Sex discrimination is the third most frequent type of complaint we see across the country,” said EEOC attorney Olophius Perry
June 5, 2012

Hospital Settles ADA Lawsuit For $95,000

Children’s Hospital Colorado pays $95,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit was filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). The problem began when the hospital discriminated against a job applicant due to her disability, fibromyalgia.

Cecilia McMurray applied for a staff assistant position with the hospital. After three interviews, McMurray was offered the position of staff assistant II, contingent upon the successful completion of a pre-employment health screen. However after the exam the hospital withdrew its offer of employment to McMurray. This is a clear violation of the ADA. You cannot subject someone to a physical exam unless the job requires it and the results of the exam show the person cannot perform the job. So for example if you were applying for the position of crain operator and you couldn't see well enough to operate the crane, they could not give you the position. But if you applied for a job as a clerk and you had bad viens that didn't affect your job they could not refused to hire you.

“The ADA is a complicated statute, and an employer’s obligations with respect to post-offer medical exams are particularly complex,” said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill.
June 2, 2012

Power Company Settles ADA Discrimination Lawsuit For $49,500

Garney Construction Co. and Georgia Power Company pays $49,500 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and claimed a violation of the Americans With Disability Act ("ADA"). Published accounts allege the company offered a front-end loader job to Bryan Mimmovich at its construction site. Mimmovich had worked twice before in the same job at the same company. The problem arose when the company required him to pass several physical examinations even though the examinations are not required by law.

Mimmovich was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 12 and, at the time he applied for the job, had been seizure-free with medication for over eight years. He was not able to pass the examinations and Garney subsequently withdrew the job offer, citing contractual requirements with Georgia Power. This is the reason Georgia Power is in the lawsuit. They were putting contractual requirements that violated the ADA. Under the law there needs to be an individualized assessment of the job applicants ability to perform the work.

“Refusing to hire a qualified job applicant with epilepsy, long controlled by medication, defies logic and violates the law if an employer does not determine, after performing an individualized assessment of the applicant, that the applicant is a threat to the health and safety of himself or others,” said EEOC attorney Barbara A. Seely
May 31, 2012

Health Partners Inc. Settles EEOC Lawsuit For $25,000

Health Partners, Inc., pays $25,000 to settle an Americans WIth Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The disability discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after settlement talks broke down. According to published accounts Health Partners refused to allow an employee to start working after she tested positive for tuberculosis on a preliminary skin test. Now at first glance one would say this sounds like a good idea so that other employees don't get sick. However, she was not contagious and did not pose a direct health risk to the other employees.

The company claims it settled the case because it did not wish to engage in protracted litigation. However, another reason could be that they would have lost the case at trial and would have to pay even more money in damages and also in legal fees. In addition to the money they paid Health Partners agreed to a two-year consent decree which requires it to give ADA training those employees responsible for hiring.

“The agency’s two-year consent decree provides complete relief to the employee, and also provides protections to future employees,” said EEOC attorney Nedra Campbell “We commend Health Partners for making this commitment to train its hiring personnel at such an early stage in this case.”
May 30, 2012

Pioneer Place Assisted Living Pays $80,000 To Settle ADA Lawsuit

Pioneer Place Assisted Living settled an Americans With Disability Act ("ADA") lawsuit for $80,000 recently. According to published accounts Pioneer refused to hire Pamila Bourasa for a cook position even though Bourasa had already completed a positive interview and had discussed a start date. The issue of her disability arose when she needed to pass a drug test before beginning work and she mentioned that she had epilepsy and was taking a prescription medication that would show up on the drug test.

The sad fact is that Bourasa quit her other job and then Pioneer rejected her because of drug test results.The ADA prohibits employers from using selection standards or criteria which screen out people with disabilities. This case was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after first trying to resolve the matter through settlement. Once the case was filed, the company decided to settle. This happens often as the large legal bills start to come in and the company can see they did something wrong.

“This was a devastating experience for me but I am glad to put this behind me,” said Bourasa “My whole life I have been faced with people not understanding epilepsy and making incorrect assumptions based on fear and stereotypes."
May 28, 2012

Temple School District Pays $148,000 To Settle Age Discrimination Lawsuit

Tempe Elementary School District pays $148,092 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts the school district utilized an early retirement incentive plan and a normal retirement plan which granted greater economic benefits to younger employees based solely on their age. This type of plan is violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA").

The school district recently revised its retirement plans to comply with the ADEA as a result of the litigation. You can see what a positive result that occurred because of the litigation. The agency obtained all the actual damages it sought, together with interest.

“Discrimination on the basis of age is simply illegal. People in their 60s should not be penalized merely because they want to continue working. A retirement plan which states, for example, that employees 52 years old will receive a greater economic benefit than an employee 61 years old for retiring early is discriminatory on its face.” said EEOC attorney Mary Jo O'Neill

May 23, 2012

A. Carrolton Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $200,000

A Carrollton pays $200,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Dan Miller. According to published accounts regarding this lawsuit, vice president and general manager, Gary Craven, made inappropriate age comments to Dan Miller, a 64-year-old national sales manager. Eventually Craven fired Miller because of his age. To make matters worse, the day after Miller was fired he was replaced by a worker in his 30's.

Some facts which really helped Miller in this case were the fact that Miller had almost 20 years experience selling the company's products. He was also hired by the company founder. Some of the language used to show age discrimination included calling Miller "old-fashioned" and repeatedly expressing his preference to hire younger salesmen with his motto: "30-30-30. What the vice president meant by that was hire a 30-year-old with an IQ of 30 and pay him $30,000. I guess we can see who had the IQ of 30.

"Older workers have the right to be evaluated based on their abilities and not based on their age," said EEOC Attorney William C. Backhaus.

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May 22, 2012

Gaurdsmark Pays $25,000 To Settle A Retaliation Lawsuit

Guardsmark pays $25,000 to settle a national origin and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a security guard from East India. According to published accounts a co-worker would repeatedly make derogatory comments about the East Indian guard and also make comments about the mans age--66. This type of activity is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA").

It is further alleged that Guardsmark not only ignored the employee’s reports of discrimination, but engaged in retaliation against him with an involuntary transfer. You cannot take a negative job action against an employee who complains of discrimination. In this case that is exactly what Guardsmark did. In my opinion the company got off with paying a minimal amount of money. They are very lucky they settled when they did. If the guard was successful at trial he could be awarded his attorney fees which would be substantial by the time this case went to trial.

“I am glad I reported my case to the EEOC and glad to put this behind me,” said the former security guard. “I hope my case will help others understand that an employer has an obligation to ensure a workplace free of harassment.”
May 18, 2012

EEOC Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit With Mid Valley Labor Services Inc.

Mid Valley Labor Services, Inc., pays $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of females employees. According to published accounts female employees working in grape vineyards were subjected to sexually explicit language while they attempted to do their jobs. To make matters worse their male crew supervisor propositioned them for sex. That would form the basis for the sexual harassment claim. If a supervisor is engaging in sexual harassment there is strict liability on the employer. You can see why a company should invest in sexual harassment training.

For the retaliation claim two women who objected to the harassment were fired. If you complain about discrimination, including sexual harassment and a negative job action is taken against you, it is called retaliation. So in this case there were two types of discrimination and the company had to pay a large amount to settle this case. I am always amazed at how little training companies offer their employees, especially management type employees. In the end if you engage in sexual harassment and you allow your management people to engage in it or support it you will end up paying money.

"The agricultural industry, with a largely immigrant workforce, employs many women who are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment,” said EEOC Attorney William R. Tamayo.
May 13, 2012

EEOC Settles Discrimination Lawsuit With LP For $60,000

LP settles an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit for $60,000. The ADA lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Jason O'Dell who was applying for an job with LP. According to published accounts, LP refused to hire O’Dell, because of his disability, Asperger’s syndrome. In case you don't know this is a medical condition that is an autism spectrum disorder. You cannot hire someone because of a disability. The ADA has been on the book for a long time, so it's hard to believe the company did not train its' employees better.

Based on his qualifications for the lab technician position he sought, Randstad, the hiring manager had originally fast-tracked O’Dell’s participation in the hiring process. However, as soon as his medical condition came to light, O’Dell was told that the lab technician position had been put “on hold,” and he was not hired. You can't do that to a potential employee. It was obvious that he was being denied the position because of his disability.

“Employers must make employment decisions based on the applicant’s ability to perform the duties of the job, not uninformed prejudices or irrational fears,” said EEOC Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
May 12, 2012

Central Freight Lines Inc. Pays $400,000 To Settle Age Discrimination Lawsuit

Central Freight Lines Inc. pays $400,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The money will be paid to eight former dockworkers. You have to remember that a company would not pay this amount of money to settle a case unless there was merit to it.

Published accounts alleges Central Freight Lines, Inc. discriminated against Ricky Curry, John Bean, Paul Elwell, Richard Harris, James Thurmond, Keith Vessels, Purvis Carter and Reynaldo Tijerina by selecting them for termination because of their age in an reduction in force. Many times the company will disguise an age discrimination activity by claiming a reduction in force. Some of the men had worked at the company for 20 or more years and were approximately 50 years old and older. This type of activity is illegal and you can see it cost the company some money.

"It is an injustice to terminate these loyal workers who gave so many years of their lives to Central Freight," said William C. Backhaus, EEOC attorney. "Laying people off because of their age is a violation of federal law."

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May 9, 2012

$50,000 Settlement By Four Points Sheraton Hotel In Discrimination Lawsuit

Four Points by Sheraton hotel pays $50,000 to settle a national origin discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of employee Basil Massih. According to published accounts, the company subjected Massish to a hostile work environment because of his Iraqi national origin. In fact the harassment got so bad that he had to resign his position which is also known as a constructive discharge.

The alleged harassment included mimicking Massih’s accent and mocking Arab vocal expressions. I know this sounds like such childish behavior but who would want to come into work each day and put up with this. To make matters worse he had to endure ethnic slurs such as “camel jockey”; and taunting and jeering at Massih relating to news stories about Iraq and the capture of terrorists. Massih complained to management but nothing was done to stop the harassment. I bet they take this type of behavior more serious now

“Employers have an affirmative duty to protect employees from discrimination and national origin harassment.” said EEOC attorney Mary Jo O’Neill
May 7, 2012

$260,000 Paid By Health Management Group, Inc. To Settle Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Health Management Group, Inc. ("HMG") pays $260,000 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of Krishna McCollins and Donna Davidson. Both of the female workers were directors of franchise development. The problem for the female workers was they were paid less than a male who performed substantially equal work for HMG. It is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to treat men and women different regarding pay and terms of employment.

n addition to paying this large sum of money the company will have to provide for training for all of HMG’s employees, managers, and supervisors on employee rights and employers’ obligations under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII. In addition HMG must post an anti-discrimination notice to all employees. This is typically what happens are part of the settlement process. You can see why it is in the best interest of the company to settle prior to the employee filing a complaint with the EEOC.

“The EEOC will not tolerate discriminatory pay practices,” said EEOC attorney Debra Lawrence.
May 3, 2012

Chicago Waitresses Subjected To Sexual Harassment

There has been a growing trend in Chicago toward managers and owners subjecting waitresses and other bar and restaurant workers to sexual harassment. Part of the reason may be the type of work atmosphere where liquor and intoxicated people abound. Whatever the reason, engaging in sexual harassment is against the law and will subject the owner to liability under the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. An employee who has been subjected to sexual harassment can file a complaint with either the Illniois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). I personally prefer to file with the IDHR because they cross-file with the EEOC and they are mandated by law to complete an investigation within one-year. One could also file a complaint with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations ("CCHR"). One big advantage to filing with the CCHR is they can award punitive damages.

So which venue does your sexual harassment case belong in? The short answer is let an experienced employment lawyer evaluate your case and decide for you. There generally isn't a one size fits all strategy. For example if you have very low lost wage damages but the sexual harassment was very tramatizing and obscene perhaps going for punitive damages with the CCHR would be the proper venue. The important thing to remember is there are strict time limits that apply for filing a claim of discrmination. Dont' be one of those people who procrastinate and ends up missing a deadline. The company will have legal advice and people working on their behalf, so should you.

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May 2, 2012

Roadrunner Redi-Mix Inc. Settles ADA Lawsuit For $80,000

A cement company called Roadrunner Redi-Mix Inc. pays $80,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of Eliud Tafoya. Tafoya was a cement driver with a neck impairment. The company refused to make a reasonable reasonable accommodation. Specifically, Tafoya requested to be exempt from cleaning the inside of the concrete barrel of his truck once a year, or in the alternative, to use the jackhammer, which was used to remove the excess concrete, in a downward motion, as opposed to the typical upward, overhead motion. This was a very reasonable request however the company refused it.

According to published accounts Tafoya safely performed his job duties for two and a half years of employment, and it wasn’t until he requested that reasonable accommodation that he was immediately sent home on unpaid leave and eventually terminated. This was a violation of the ADA and will cost a company money every time. It is very important that people realize their rights to be free from discrimination while they are employed. Companies don't have a right to subject you to violations of the law. Violating the ADA is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“The EEOC will continue to diligently enforce federal law to ensure that people with disabilities are free from harassment or discrimination in the workplace,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, EEOC attorney.
May 1, 2012

Golf International Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $25,000

Golf International settles a retaliation lawsuit for $25,000. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Jeffrey White. According to published accounts the company fired White one day after he submitted an internal complaint reporting sexual harassment. He reported that several female employees felt they had been sexually harassed by the head chef. This happens quite often. The company fired the messenger of bad news. After White filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC, the company offered to hire White back if he dropped his EEOC charge.

Many times people are afraid to come forward for this reason. They try to do the right thing and it ends up costing them their job. In this tough economy this really hurts. I am glad the EEOC was able to hold the company to the law and make them pay Mr. White. My Chicago offices gets many calls like this. Make sure you don't let companies push you around. Protect your employment rights and document everything at work.

“Employment discrimination cannot be stopped or corrected if employees do not feel free to report it,” EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill said.
April 28, 2012

Taco Bells Franchise Pays $27,000 To Settle Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

Family Foods, Inc., which owns a Taco Bell restaurant pays $27,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Christopher Abbey. According to published documents Abbey is a practicing Nazirite who, in accordance with his religious beliefs, has not cut his hair since he was 15-years old. I guess it is safe to say his hair is long. Abbey worked for the company for six years before the company informed him that he had to cut his hair in order to comply with its grooming policy. This is really bizarre that they allowed him to work so long and then all of a sudden required him to cut his hair.

When Abbey explained that he could not cut his hair because of his religion, the company told Abbey that unless he cut his hair, he could no longer continue to work at its Taco Bell restaurant. The company ended up firing Abbey in violation of federal law. An employer must make reasonable accommodations for peoples religious beliefs. In this case it would not have been that big a deal. After all Abbey had been wearing long hair for years prior to the company requiring him to cut it.

“No person should be forced to choose between his religion and his job when the company can provide an accommodation without suffering an undue hardship,” said Lynette A. Barnes, EEOC attorney.
April 20, 2012

Bankers Asset Management Inc. Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $600,000

Bankers Asset Management, Inc., pays $600,000 to settle a racial discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity ("EEOC") on behalf of black job applications. In Illinois there are three races which qualify for racial discrimination under the law. Those are white, black and Asian. Hispanic is not considered a race but rather a national origin or ancestry for purposes of discrimination law. An experienced employment lawyer can help file your discrimination lawsuit and determine what to file under.

According to documents which have been made public the company retaliated against other employees and former employees for opposing or testifying about the racial discrimination. In some cases employees were demoted and one was even forced out of her job. To make matters worse, some were even sued in state court. I really can't believe this type of activity took place. You can see how the EEOC made this company pay and didn't allow them to continue this obscene practice.

“Excluding qualified individuals from job opportunities because of their race or in retaliation for exercising protected rights are fundamental violations of the laws we enforce,” said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez.
April 19, 2012

Burger King Franchise Pays A Whopper To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Kaizen Restaurants, Inc., which operates dozens of Burger King restaurants pays $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of a teenage worker. According to published accounts the teenager got her first job at Burger King and the supervisor began to sexually harass her. The older, married supervisor made unwelcome sexual comments and touched the female teenager. This guy sounds like a real piece of work and I can't believe the company hired such a man.

To make matters worse the supervisor would discuss her virginity, and demand that she have sex with him. You wonder if this manager was actually doing any work while at work. When she rejected his advances he ordered her not to tell management about his behavior. She reported this crazy conduct to management and they refused to intervene and stop it. The supervisor then began to follow her around the store and into the parking lot on breaks. She finally quit because of this hostile work environment. When an employee quits because of discriminatory conduct it is called a constructive discharge. You can see how much money this Burger King franchise had to pay because of the horrible actions of a supervisor. In Illinois there is strict liability on the company if the supervisor engages in sexual harassment.

“What I had to face at work every day was humiliating and wrong,” said the worker, who was 17 years old when she started working there.


April 13, 2012

EEOC Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $574,000

Kelley Drye & Warren, a law firm with over 300 attorneys, settles an age discrimination lawsuit by paying $574,000. The firm also agreed to end its policy of requiring partners to give up their equity in the firm once they reach 70 years of age. The age discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Eugene D'Ablemont. According to documents which have been made public, attorneys who wanted to practice law after reaching 70 could only do so by giving up all ownership interest in the firm. Because the policy of the firm was tied to age, the EEOC alleged discrimination based on age was taking place.

Requiring people over 70 to give up their equity resulted in significant under-compensation of D’Ablemont, who has continued to practice law full-time at the firm since he turned 70 in 2000. The EEOC alleged that this conduct violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), which prohibits discrimination based on age, including in compensation. I am glad the EEOC made the firm take a good look at its' policy and change it. People should be judged on their merits, not their race, color, gender or age.

"There is no reason why attorneys who are capable of continuing to practice at 70 either should be forced to retire or otherwise be dissuaded from continuing to work in their chosen profession just because of their age,” said EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez.
April 11, 2012

EEOC Settles ADA Lawsuit For $125,000

Resources for Human Development, Inc. ("RHD") pays $125,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit. The Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Lisa Harrison. According to published accounts, Harrison worked as a prevention specialist for RHD and was fired on September of 2007. RHD violated the ADA when it fired Harrison because of her disability, severe obesity, even though she was able to perform the essential functions of her job. In a very tragic event, Harrison died before the case was settled and therefore she was not able to see justice prevail.

In this case the court concluded that severe obesity may qualify as a disability regardless of whether it is caused by a physiological disorder, rejecting RHD’s argument to the contrary. This is an important point that employees should realize. Employment rights for employees are increasing in Chicago and when in doubt if you are being discriminated against contact an employment lawyer. To bolster the case that obesity is the result of a physical disorder the EEOC offered an expert renowned in the field of obesity researcher. He concluded that Harrison’s obesity was the result of a physical disorder or disease, and was not caused by lack of character or willpower.

“All people with a disability who are qualified for their position are protected from unlawful discrimination,” said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez.
April 7, 2012

Beehive of Vernal Inc. Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit For $22,000

Beehive of Vernal, Inc., pays $22,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit was the result of a failed attempt to settle the case by both parties. According to published accounts Beehive’s owner offered an assistant manager’s job to a replacement upon learning of the assistant manager’s pregnancy. This would constitute pregnancy discrimination because they are treating the pregnant employee different than other employees based on her pregnancy.

To make matters worse, the owner repeatedly asked her when she planned to stop working. Unless he asked this question of all employees this is discrimination. I really can't believe this owner would treat a pregnant woman this way. The owner also subjected the pregnant woman to closer scrutiny, ultimately compelling her to quit. When an employee is forced to quit it is referred to as a constructive discharge. In Illinois it is a violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") to discriminate against someone based on pregnancy. It is also a violation of federal law to discriminate against someone for the same reason. Additionally, if you force an employee to quit because you make work difficult for them, it is an additional charge of discrimination.

“Pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination. The EEOC is steadfast in its commitment to assist victims of all forms of employment discrimination.” said EEOC attorney Rayford Irvin.
April 5, 2012

Personal Touch Home Care Settles Discrimination Lawsuit

Personal Touch Home Care pays $35,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after settlement talks broke down. According to court documents, Pamula Calfee was fired because of her disabilities. The disabilities included renal failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. An employer has to make a reasonable accommodation for someone who has a disability. Calfee was employed for many years and had no problems performing her job.

It is unfortunate that employers still don't treat employees correctly. Employees have rights and when those rights are taken away, employment lawyers can file discrimination claims with agencies like the EEOC. In Chicago, I prefer to file claims like this with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The advantage of filing with the IDHR is that they cross-file with the EEOC on overlapping claims and they investigate within one-year. The EEOC usually doesn't investigate discrimination claims within one-year. This case is a good illustration of why an employer should just make reasonable accommodations for a disabled employee.

“Treating an employee badly based on a physical impairment violates the very core of the ADA, and the EEOC will continue to fight for the rights of disability discrimination victims,” said EEOC attorney Laurie Young.
April 2, 2012

Illinois Department Of Human Rights Legal Tips

So you are in Chicago and you believe you are the victim of discrimination. What should you do to protect your rights? My Chicago office handles many types of discrimination and I file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and they will automatically cross-file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") if the subject matter is allowable. The advantage to filing with the IDHR is they are mandated by the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") to investigate the discrimination complaint within one-year. This means your case will be quickly moved through the system and perhaps a resolution between the parties can take place.

For example in a sexual harassment case, the EEOC will allow for cross-filing and you will have multiple options going forward. This gives you the ability to file a sexual harassment lawsuit in federal court or if you follow the IDHR/state route, in state court or with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). A note, you can only file with the IHRC if there is a finding of substantial evidence by the IDHR or if the IDHR fails to complete its investigation within one-year. Make sure you protect your rights if you have been the victim of discrimination in Chicago or in other areas of Illinois.

April 1, 2012

AutoZone Inc. Pays $75,000 To Settle A Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

AutoZone, Inc., pays $75,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts of the alleged discrimination AutoZone subjected Frank Mahoney Burroughs, an employee who had converted to the Sikh religion, to harassment and refused to accommodate his religious need to wear a turban. As long as wearing the turban would not affect his work performance, a reasonable accommodation needed to be made.

Details of the lawsuit include AutoZone managers harassing Burroughs by disparaging his religion, and asking if he had joined Al-Qaeda. Those type of comments are well over the line and inappropriate. They also asked if he was a terrorist. It even got worse for Burroughs as customers would refer to him as Bin Laden and made terrorist jokes. It must have been very hard to go to work every day under this type of pressure. The last straw was when AutoZone terminated him because of his religion and in retaliation for asking for an accommodation and complaining about discrimination.

“It is plainly unlawful as well as cruel and counter-productive to harass employees or co-workers because of their religion,” said EEOC attorney Elizabeth Grossman.
March 31, 2012

Cadillac Jack Inc. Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $87,500

Cadillac Jack, Inc. pays $87,200 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The retaliation lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Tracey Tucker. According to information published on the EEOC website, Cadillac Jack fired Tracey Tucker, an African-American, from her position as contracts manager in retaliation for her complaining about racial discrimination and gender discrimination.

Tucker was terminated one day after lodging the discrimination complaint. Talk about a stupid policy. Most companies at least have the sense to wait a little while before firing an employee after they complain about discrimination. By firing her so soon after she complained about discrimination, the company made a pretty obvious statement. It is troubling that companies don't take discrimination complaints in a more serious fashion. I am glad the EEOC was able to obtain such a large settlement.

“The EEOC filed this lawsuit in large part due to the timing of the complaint and termination,” said EEOC attorney Robert Dawkins
March 29, 2012

EEOC Issues Age Discrimination Final Regulations

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") issued the what is called the “Final Regulation on Disparate Impact and Reasonable Factors Other than Age” ("RFOA") under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"). This would apply to anyone filing a claim of age discrimination in Chicago. Under the ADEA you cannot engage in discrimination based on a persons age. The law covers people 40 and over In affect, a company can't hire people younger than 40 unless they have a compelling reason why that person is more qualified than someone over 40 for the position. This would also apply to promotions and reductions in force. An employment law attorney can help you discuss the facts of your case to see if you have any legal recourse.

Under the law a company can claim a RFOA defense and this new interpretation by the EEOC makes regulations consistent with Supreme Court case law. This rule will only apply to companies with 20 or more employees, state and local government employers, employment agencies, and labor organizations. According to the EEOC this final rule will balance the rights of older workers with the business interests of employers. To show how prevalent age discrimination is in this county, the number of age discrimination charges filed with the EEIC increased by 50% since 2000.

March 25, 2012

Chicago Sexual Harassment Complaints At The IDHR

Well the figures for fiscal year 2011 are in and there were 417 sexual harassment complaints filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") last year. The majority were filed in Chicago at the IDHR offices in the Thompson Center. Now most of these charges also included additional basis of discrimination, most notably retaliation. The reason for this is most companies don't do the right thing once a sexual harassment complaint is filed and they take a negative job action against the complaining employee. Additionally, if during the company investigation someone comes forward as a witness and they receive a negative job action, they would have their own retaliation claim. Remember when you file a sexual harassment complaint with the IDHR, it is automatically cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") if you check the appropriate box on the IDHR cover sheet.

By having the complaint filed with both the IDHR and EEOC you have two great options. If you stay with the IDHR and a finding of substantial evidence is awarded, you can filed directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial or file your case in the local circuit court. If you take the EEOC path you can file a lawsuit in federal court. How you proceed will generally depend on the facts of the case. It is very important to have the facts in your case evaluated by an experienced and aggressive employment lawyer. In Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois my office never charges to discuss your employment discrimination case.

March 24, 2012

Adams Jeep of Maryland, Inc. Settles EEOC Lawsuit

Adams Jeep of Maryland, Inc., pays $50,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Amy Smith. According to published accounts, the company denied a reasonable accommodation to Smith shortly after she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Under the law a company must make a reasonable accommodation for someone with a disability. In this case the company failed to do so and it cost them a fairly large amount of money.

Smith had been employed since as a telephone operator and did such a good job she was promoted to an accounts payable position. That is when her trouble with the company started. She was then diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She disclosed her disorder to the office manager and assistant manager and remarkably she was subjected to hostile conduct. The conduct included comments like “pill popper” and “psycho.” To make matters worse Smith was on a medical leave of absence and under a doctor’s care and the company fired her.

“The work force includes many people with psychiatric disabilities who face employment discrimination because of their conditions, which are stigmatized or misunderstood,” said EEOC Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
March 23, 2012

Hal Leonard Publishing Company Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $150,000

Hal Leonard Publishing Company pays $150,000 to a class of female employees to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to details published in court documents, women were subjected to unwelcome grabbing and squeezing while at work. This sexual harassment was performed by co-workers. Because it did not involve a manager, sexual harassment liability will not attach until the women complained. Once they complain the company has an obligation to stop the harassment and do an investigation.

The women complained multiple times to management but the sexual harassment did not stop. In this case it looks like management decided that looking the other way was how they would handle the sexual harassment complaints. Of course they made a mistake by doing that. After paying this large amount of money I am sure they will act differently in the future. The EEOC was able to force the company to their senses. I am glad the female employees hung in there.

“An employer who has a sexual harassment policy on paper but fails to enforce it is placing itself at great risk. “Employers need to take sexual harassment allegations seriously. We are pleased that Hal Leonard worked cooperatively with us to resolve this charge without having to go through protracted litigation.” said EEOC attorney Julie Schmid.

March 16, 2012

Hal Leonard Publishing Company Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $150,000

Hal Leonard Publishing Company pays $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of female employees. According to documents obtained regarding the lawsuit, the company subjected the female employees to unwelcome grabbing and squeezing while they tried to perform their jobs. In addition to that the females had to endure sexual comments.

The people engaging in the sexual harassment were co-workers, not supervisors. The females complained to management and nothing was done to stop it. This type of activity occurring at work is a violation of the law. You can see how much money the company ended up spending to settle this case, plus they had to pay their own attorney. I hope in the future the company gets some sexual harassment training and learns how to better handle discrimination claims.

“An employer who has a sexual harassment policy on paper but fails to enforce it is placing itself at great risk." said EEOC attorney Julie Schmid
March 15, 2012

Warren Tricomi Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit For $30,000

Warren Tricomi pays $30,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a pregnant female employee. According the documents filed in the lawsuit Tricomi rescinded an employee’s promotion from assistant colorist to colorist once she informed the company she was pregnant. To make matters worse, they fired her a short time after rescinding her promotion. This type of activity is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Because of the cost of healthcare and the weak job market some employers believe they can treat workers in this fashion. Usually in cases like this the worker has a good job performance history and there isn't a legitimate reason for the recision of the promotion. Taking a negative job action because someone gets pregnant is just wrong and will cost a company money all the time. I am glad the EEOC pursued this case and made the company pay.

“Employment decisions cannot be made on the basis of pregnancy.” said EEOC attorney Elizabeth Grossman
March 14, 2012

Olam Americas, Inc. Pays $140,000 To Settle EEOC Lawsuit

Olam Americas, Inc. pays $140,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a female jobseeker who was denied an executive assistant position. The reason for denying her the job according to the EEOC was that she was pregnant.

Documents produced during the lawsuit indicate the female applicant was initially offered the executive assistant position but within a very short period of time after disclosing that she was pregnant, Olam rescinded its offer of employment. After not hiring her they promptly hired a non-pregnant candidate. Paying this large sum of money indicated the company did in fact engage in discrimination and I am very happy to see this woman get was she deserves.

“Employers should hire and retain the best qualified job applicants, irrespective of one’s gender or pregnancy.” said EEOC attorney Anna Y. Park
March 13, 2012

Atsalis Brothers Painting Company Settles Retaliation Lawsuit With EEOC For $65,000

Atsalis Brothers Painting Company pays $65,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The retaliation lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC') on behalf of Rodney Trice. According to published accounts Atsalis retaliated against Trice for objecting to racial discrimination. Trice worked for Atsalis as a painter and his foreman would call him the N-word among other things. This type of behavior is not acceptable and illegal. It must have been very hard for Trice to come into work each day and listen to that type of garbage.

Trice complained to management about this behavior and nothing was done to stop it. In fact Trice was not hired the next season which amounts to retaliation. It is illegal for an employer to take a negative job action against someone who is opposing discrimination. In this case, complaining about the derogatory language was opposing the racial discrimination. Paying this large amount of money should make Atsalis think twice about taking discrimination so lightly. Trice was right to stand up for his employment rights.

“The right of an employee to object to discriminatory conduct without fear of being punished by his employer is fundamental to ensuring equal employment opportunity,” said EEOC Attorney Dale Price.
March 12, 2012

Age Discrimination Lawsuits In Chicago On The Rise

In Chicago there have been a number of age discrimination lawsuits which suggests this type of discrimination is on the rise. It is illegal to treat employees over 40 different from those under 40. Many times employers are either looking to cut costs or get more work out of younger workers. What I mean by more work, is a younger worker may be eager to satisfy management and work off the clock to help impress. This type of activity may make the company more money but is illegal on several levels.

If you are the victim of age discrimination in Chicago you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and it will be automatically cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). This type of employment discrimination is harder to prove and usually requires examing the records of the company. As most employers are not stupid enough to fire you and say they are because of your age, it is helpful to have an experience employment lawyer working for you. In Chicago don't let employers discriminate against you based on your age.

March 8, 2012

Gerrescheimer Peachtree City Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $90,000

Gerresheimer Peachtree City pays $90,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The retaliation lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of former employee Donna McLeod. According to published accounts Peachtree terminated McLeod from her position as a quality assurance manager in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge with the EEOC. If you file a charge with the EEOC or in Chicago the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") you are protected from firing based on filing that charge.

This initially started when McLeod complained to human resources about gender discrimination based on unequal wages. This is called unequal terms and conditions of employment. There was an internal investigation and the company concluded there was no discrimination. Hearing of this finding McLeod filed a charge with the EEOC. Within six weeks of receiving notice of the discrimination charge filed with the EEOC, Peachtree terminated McLeod for purportedly misusing leave time. This was used as a pretext to fire McLeod. The alleged real reason for his firing was that he filed a complaint with the EEOC.

“All too often employers look for any opportunity to fire employees who exert their rights under federal civil rights law,” said EEOC Attorney Robert Dawkins.
March 7, 2012

Rugo Stone LLC Settles A Discrimination Lawsuit For $40,000

Rugo Stone, LLC, pays $40,000 to settle a national origin discrimination, religious discrimination and color discrimination lawsuit. The multi-count discrimination lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Shazad Buksh. According to published accounts Buksh was an estimator and assistant project manager for Rugo Stone, and was subjected to derogatory comments from his supervisors, project manager and the company’s owner. All of these discriminatory comments were based on his national origin which was Pakistani, his religion which was Islam, and color which was brown.

The comments occurred daily and included things like Buksh being called a “Paki-princess” and told he was the same color as human feces. This type of activity at work is well beyond the accepted standards of decency. Can you imagine coming into work each day and listening to these comments . Buksh was told that his religion was “f---ing backwards,” and “f---ing crazy." He complained to management but nothing was done to stop the discrimination. I am glad the EEOC made the company pay up and stop this type of behavior.

“Employers must remember that federal law prohibits harassment based on national origin, religion and color,” said EEOC Attorney Lynette A. Barnes.
March 4, 2012

Filing At The Chicago Commission On Human Relations

The good news for you if you have been the victim of sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination in Chicago is you have multiple options. In Chicago you can file with three different agencies. The Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"), the Chicago Commission on Human Relations ("CCHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). If you file with the IDHR, they will automatically cross-file with the EEOC. So in affect you get a two-for one in that regard.

Where you file will depend on the circumstances and facts of your case. It is very important to speak with an employment lawyer and learn what is best for your circumstance. Of course if you live outside chicago in say the southern or central part of the state you can only file with the IDHR or EEOC. Don't wait too long because there are strict time limits that apply to discrimination cases. No matter where you file it is important that you keep track of what is taking place at work if you are still employed. Keep a log and save emails or other communications that may help your case.

March 2, 2012

HCS Medical Staffing Pays $148,000 To Settle Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

HCS Medical Staffing pays $148,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of employee Roxy Leger. According to published accounts, Leger was the company bookkeeper and the owner made offensive and inappropriate comments to her about her pregnancy. When it came time to take leave to have her son, she was fired by the owner which is a violation of the law regarding discrimination based on pregnancy. The firing took place by certified mail as the owner didn't even have the professionalism to talk to her face-to-face.

HCS's owner, Charles Sisson, made some of the following disrespectful comments to Leger, calling her pregnancy a joke and insisting that maternity leave should last no more than a couple of days. He even made the outrageous comments that Leger's pre-natal appointments were a ruse for additional time off or were for money. In what was probably the most damaging piece of evidence in the case, the owner gave Leger an offensive graphic diagram of a machine which would allegedly allow Leger to return from her maternity leave sooner. Talk about a guy still living with the cavemen.

“The conduct at issue in this case was deplorable. ” “Pregnancy discrimination is sex discrimination. It is flatly prohibited by law. Working to stop it remains a high priority for the EEOC.” said EEOC Regional Attorney John Hendrickson.
February 29, 2012

Tyson Foods Pays $35,000 To Settle EEOC Lawsuit

Tyson Foods, Inc. pays $35,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Mark White. According to published accounts Tyson Foods refused to hire former employee White because he had epilepsy. Talk about having a narrow mind. Perhaps these folks at Tyson should take a class on humanity. According to published accounts White applied for an open maintenance job. White’s epilepsy had been controlled by medication for twelve years and he had been previously employed by Tyson on two occasions during this time period. I guess a twelve year track record isn't good enough for Tyson.

In order to not hire White, Tyson instituted a new medical assessment procedure and refused to hire him because he did not pass a medical evaluation required for applicants with epilepsy. The doctor who performed the evaluation for Tyson did not examine White, but relied on outdated medical research in determining that he could not safely perform the job. To makes matters worse and to show the discrimination the EEOC showed that Tyson employed several other persons with epilepsy who had been grandfathered in. So Tyson did not grandfather in White which showed unequal terms and conditions of employment based on his disability.

“The potentially three-step medical assessment process agreed to by the parties is an extraordinary step in the right direction in terms of making sure disabled employees are given a full and fair opportunity to compete in the workplace,” said EEOC attorney Melvin Kennedy.
February 28, 2012

Hurricane Grill and Wings Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $200,000

A company doing business as Hurricane Grill and Wings and owned by 441 S.B., LLC pays $200,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of multiple female employers. In what can only be viewed as shocking events, Hurricane Grill allowed female servers to be sexually harassed by a customer, a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy. As if this weren't bad enough when the female workers complained to management nothing was done. And in fact, the company fired a female server after management learned she had hired a private attorney to assist her in filing an EEOC complaint. This is referred to as retaliation and is a violation of the law.

Details of the lawsuit include servers being frequently grabbed on their breasts and buttocks. Can you imagine coming to work every day and having to put up with this type of behavior? It is horrible that women were treated in this manner. Additionally, female workers were subjected to sexual comments and the harasser even tried to get the females to have sex with him and his wife. After paying this large amount in settlement I bet the company will take sexual harassment more serious in the future. I am glad to see the females didn't give up and made the company admit their mistakes.

“The Commission remains poised to enforce Title VII and it will actively pursue flagrant violations such as this one. Employees should feel safe at work and employers must protect their employees from a sexually hostile work environment.” Said EEOC Attorney Malcolm Medley
February 27, 2012

Piggly Wiggly Pays $40,000 To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Piggly Wiggly pays $40,000 to settle a racial discrimination and gender discrimination lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of multiple people. In this case the gender discrimination involved men not being hired for cashier positions. This would seem to be a reverse type of discrimination. It is important to remember that neither gender can be discriminated against.

According to published accounts Piggly Wiggly locations owned by MWR Enterprises Inc. maintained policies and practices that intentionally failed to hire African-Americans because of their race. This is very troubling and it is hard to believe this type of activity still takes place. Additionally the company maintained a segregated work force. Wow, can you say take a trip in the time machine. Someone should tell these folks the year is 2012.

“The law is clear – employers may not refuse to hire applicants based on their race or gender,” “The EEOC will continue to ensure that such barriers to employment are removed.” said EEOC attorney Faye Williams
February 25, 2012

In Chicago At A Job Interview Cans You Be Asked If You Are Married?

Can an employer in Chicago ask you about your marital status during a job interview? The answer is no. Actually if they do and you don't get the job they probably have a problem. Under the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act"), it is a violation of the law to find out if a person is married, or single or living with someone and base a hiring decision on this information. Anyone who asks you about your status regarding marriage is violating the law if you don't get hired because it puts the issue front and center. If this happens you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is mandated by law to investigate a complaint within 365 days. The IDHR will also cross-file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). This gives you both a state and federal option.

Now there are many different ways employers can try and inquire about your marital status. Some employers will do an Internet search on prospective employees. This could lead to employers finding out your marital status without them asking you directly. In my opinion this is also a violation of the Act and could subject the employer to a discrimination claim with the IDHR. Some employers will also check court records, which could reveal a divorce or marriage. It is important for you to realize you have rights regarding your employment or potential employment. These same rules apply if you are trying to get promoted at work or if you are being reviewed for a performance evaluation.

February 23, 2012

Chicago Area Jimmy's Charhouse Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $200,000

Jimmy’s Charhouse of Elgin pays $200,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of eight female employees. According to court documents, some of the female waitresses and hostesses were sexually harassed by members of management. Some of the details of the sexual harassment included crude sexual comments and groping. There was even attempts to engage in sex.

One of the alleged victims claimed that she was terminated after refusing the sexual advances of her manager which is called retaliation. It is illegal to take a negative job action against an employee because the employee refuses to engage in discriminatory conduct or if the employee opposes discriminatory conduct. Under the terms of the decree, which is part of the settlement, Jimmy’s Charhouse is also enjoined from further subjecting any employee to a hostile work environment or retaliating against any employee who opposes discrimination.

“Too often we hear about rampant sexual harassment of restaurant employees, where waitresses appear to be fair game,” said EEOC attorney John Hendrickson “We want the message to get out: Sexual harassment is illegal, whether it’s in the boardroom or at your neighborhood restaurant.”


February 20, 2012

Convergys Customer Management Group Settles Discrimination Lawsuit

Convergys Customer Management Group pays $15,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Shannon Fantroy. According to published accounts Convergys violated federal law by refusing to hire Fantroy who was a call center job applicant because he could not work on Saturdays due to his religious beliefs.

This all started when Fantroy answered an online advertisement for a customer service position at Convergys’s call center. Fantroy’s religious beliefs as a Hebrew Israelite require him to observe the Sabbath from sunup until sundown on Saturday. Under the law the company must at least try and work with Fantroy to find a reasonable accommodation for the beliefs of Fantroy. A recruiter for Convergys interviewed Fantroy and told him that he would have to work weekends even though Fantroy told him about his religious beliefs and need for weekends off. The recruiter then told Fantroy that the interview was over unless he could work Saturdays.

“Mr. Fantroy never had a chance to discuss accommodation options because the recruiter simply cut him off once he stated that because of his religious beliefs he could not work on Saturday,” said EEOC attorney Barbara A. Seely.
February 16, 2012

EEOC Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $40,000

Product Fabricators, Inc. pays $40,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit was filed under the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") on behalf of Dennis Anderson. According to published accounts Product Fabricators fired long-time employee Anderson because he was taking a low-dosage, prescribed narcotic medication for back pain. Heaven forbid someone try and live pain free. This kind of behavior by a company is crazy and unprofessional. Can you imagine the company wanted Mr. Anderson to have to work in pain?

To show how creepy this company is they even required all employees to report whether they were taking any prescription or over-the-counter medication. This crazy policy is a violation of the ADA because it is not related to the ability of employees to do their jobs. This sounds like something out of a big brother movie. I really can't believe a company would have a policy like this. I am happy to report the EEOC held this company accountable for violating federal law. This just goes to show you that if you don't let a company push you around you can be rewarded with a nice paycheck.

“Requiring all employees to report their legal use of prescription drugs – and even over-the-counter medication – amounts to an unreasonable invasion of privacy, whether an employee is disabled or not,” said EEOC Chicago District Regional Attorney John Hendrickson.
February 10, 2012

Hobson Air Conditioning Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Hobson Air Conditioning, Inc. settled a sexual harassment and constructive discharge lawsuit for $37,500. The multiple count discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of former employee Misty Kratky. According to published accounts Kratky's male manager subjected her to sexually vulgar comments and touched her. The sexual harassment occurred soon after she was hired. This manager must have thought she was there to be his play toy. It is amazing this guy was in a leadership position.

The sexual harassment got worse and included repeatedly asking Kratky to show him her breasts. I mean if the guy needed to see breasts that bad he should have gone to a strip club--get a life buddy. This manager also would make crude sexual demands on her and even exposing himself to her on multiple occasions. She complained to management about this but nothing was done to stop the harassment. Because the sexual harassment continued and nothing was done to the harasser, Kratky quit and this is considered a constructive discharge under the law.

EEOC Attorney Toby Wosk Costas said, “As the only female employee in her office, Ms. Kratky was targeted for this crude and disturbing behavior on the work premises."
February 9, 2012

Buy Rite Thrift Store Settles Discrimination Lawsuit

Buy Rite Thrift Store pays $50,000 to settle an Americans With Disability Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a worker who had epilepsy. It is outrageous the way the company treated this man. According to accounts which have been published Buy Rite illegally fired a stocker on the night shift who had epilepsy after he experienced mild seizures at work. Talk about being cold and uncaring. How would you like to be employed by a company like this. This type of treatment of a worker is remarkable.

You would think the company would request the worker take a fitness exam or provide medical documentation of his ability to perform the job duties required of his position. Instead the thrift shop without any proof determined the employee was a danger to himself and others, and terminated his employment. This type of activity is illegal and ended up costing the company a good chunk of change. The EEOC made sure this company paid for what it did.

“It was a hard blow to lose my job because of my employer’s response to my epilepsy,” said the worker. “For 17 years, I have done similar work before as a stocker and cashier at a grocery store. Having mild seizures at work never stopped me from getting my job done successfully.”
February 8, 2012

Professional Media Corporation Pays $58,000 To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Professional Media Corporation pays $58,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of an employee who had multiple medical disorders. According to published accounts Professional Media Corporation had a policy of forcing employees to sign a “health warranty” certifying their health and that they did not use medications. This type of activity by a company is crazy, unprofessional and as it turns out illegal.

Additionally the company harassed and then unlawfully fired an employee who had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ("ADHD") and Auditory Processing Disorder ("ADP"). The company was trying to get rid of employees who may end up costing them money in medical bills. It is very creepy that a company would single out employees who have medical conditions. I hope people learn more about this company and think twice before doing business with them or working for them. The EEOC was able to hold the company accountable for the discrimination and make them pay.

“This case shows that employers continue to make employment decisions based on uninformed prejudices and irrational fears,” said EEOC Attorney Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.
February 7, 2012

Sangria' Mexican Cafe Must Pay $51,700 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

A federal jury awarded $51,700 in back pay, compensatory and punitive damages to four family members who were fired for resisting sexual harassment at Sangria's Mexican Cafe. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of waitress Lauren Goldston. According to published accounts Goldston opposed sexual harassment and complained about unwelcome sexual advances, remarks, and inappropriate touching by a male cook at the restaurant.

To make matters worse, Goldston’s mother, Sara, aunt, Francesca, and uncle, Max, also worked at Sangria’s. Once they found out what was going on they reported the sexual harassment to Sangria’s’ owner. However nothing was done by the owner to stop the sexual harassment. In fact the sexual harassment created a hostile work environment for all those who were involved. Sangria’s terminated all of the Goldstons in retaliation for reporting the sexual harassment.

“This verdict is significant because it indicates to employers that, regardless of their size, they must afford their employees the statutorily protected right to oppose unlawful discrimination without the fear of retaliation,” said EEOC attorney Bernice Williams Kimbrough.

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February 6, 2012

DXP Enterprises Pays $120,000 To Settle EEOC Lawsuit

DXP Enterprises, Inc will pay $120,000 to settle an Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and age discrimination lawsuit. The multiple count lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Connie Brooks. According to published accounts DXP hired Brooks and then fired her a few days later after learning she had a prior back injury. When you engage in that type of behavior it is a violation of the law and will result in a lawsuit. If you are over 40 and are treated different than younger workers you can also file an age discrimination lawsuit--which is what happened here.

I really can't imagine company managers acting this way in light of current employment laws. It never ceases to amaze me how stupid companies can be. There are so many good workers out there and have prior injuries. I am glad the EEOC was able to secure a good settlement for Ms. Brooks and hopefully the company will learn a valuabe lesson about how to treat people. These employment laws are on the books for reason.

“We are pleased with this employer’s willingness to provide a prompt resolution to Ms. Brooks, as well as the company’s commitment to provide anti-discrimination training.” said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill
February 1, 2012

Fire Departments Pays $494,150 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The Los Angeles City Fire Department pays $494,150 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. According to published accounts firefighter Anthony Almeida was sexually harassed and complained to management. After management refused to intervene he went to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") who filed a complaint on his behalf. The allegations included deeply offensive comments of a sexual and religious nature. The behavior of the co-workers was very cruel and has no place in the workplace.

The problem started when Almeida filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Church regarding sexual abuse he suffered by a priest. One coworker learned that Almeida had filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Church over the abuse, and several coworkers mocked him for that, using explicit and offensive religious and sexual epithets. To make matters worse management engaged in retaliation against Almeida in the form of discipline for his participation in another equal employment opportunity investigation. You can see how much money this type of behavior can cost.

“We are pleased that the Los Angeles City Fire Department is demonstrating its commitment toward creating a workplace free of harassment and retaliation,” said EEOC attorney Olophius Perry.
January 26, 2012

Methuen Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $250,000

The city of Methuen will settle a sexual harassment lawsuit for $250,000. The sexual harassment case involves legal secretary Fulya Metin Campanelli and former city solicitor Maurice Lariviere who was her boss. According to published accounts the main claim was that Lariviere engaged in sexual harassment years before and the city did nothing to stop it and to punish him for it. This led him to believe he could continue to engage in sexual harassment and put her in close proximity with him. Another words she is saying that if they had fired him or given him discipline before he would not have been in a position to sexually harass her in the future like he did.

The history of a person accused of sexual harassment comes into play when a situation like this occurs. You can't put a person under the control of a person who has a history of sexual harassment without the proper monitoring in place. In affect you are putting fresh meat in front of a wild animal. In this case the wild animal cost he city $250,000. These types of employment law cases are very expensive, especially since the city also had to pay its' own lawyer a great deal of money to defend the case prior to settlement.

"The hardest and smartest thing to do is approve this and get this behind us,""It's a six-year horror show." said Councilor Michael Condon.

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January 24, 2012

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Says Discrimination At All Time High

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") received a record 99,947 charges of employment discrimination in 2011. With all of the calls to my Chicago office I am not suprised that the number of discrimination complaints is on the rise. I get so many calls about sexual harassment that I am amazed the number of complaints isn't higher. It is very important for employees to realize that they have rights and they have a place to turn to. It is imperative that you contact an employment lawyer who can help you navigate the EEOC and other agencies.

The EEOC obtained $455.6 million in relief through its administrative program and litigation in Fiscal Year 2011. This is a fantastic amount and this shows how widespread the employment discrimination is. There are state agencies that also investigate employment discrimination and I prefer to file directly with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") because they do a faster and better job of investigating issues. However the imporant thing is to file with either agency and protect your employment rights.

January 23, 2012

United Insurance Company of America Pays $37,500 To Settle EEOC Lawsuit

United Insurance Company of America pays $37,500 to settle an Americans With Disability Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The ADA lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after first trying to settle with the company. According to published accounts Craig Burns was a recovering drug addict who was enrolled in a methadone treatment program for many years. In January 2010, United Insurance offered Burns a position as an insurance agent conditioned upon Burns’ passing a drug test.

The problem was Burns’ drug test showed the presence of methadone in his system. Because o this Burns submitted a letter to United Insurance from his treatment provider explaining that he was participating in supervised methadone treatment program and taking legally prescribed medication as part of the treatment. Upon receiving this information, United Insurance notified Burns that he was not eligible for hire and withdrew its offer of employment. This act is illegal and the EEOC held the company to the law.

“The ADA requires employers to make an individualized assessment of whether an individual can do the job rather than relying on fears or stereotypes,” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes.
January 20, 2012

Choctaw Settles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit For $75,000

Choctaw Transportation Company, Inc. pays $75,000 to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of an African-American job applicant. According to published accounts the company refused to hire a black job applicant for a deckhand position because of his race. The applicant was qualified and should have been hired for the position.

This isn't the first problem for Choctaw. The EEOC alleges Choctaw has been discriminating for decades against black workers. Apparently Choctaw segregated its work force and has refused to hire blacks in deckhand positions. This type of activity is hard to believe. The company now has been exposed and the EEOC held the company to the laws that apply regarding employment. Hopefully this type of activity will not occur in the future at this company.

“Employees should not be subjected to racial discrimination in hiring, as it is a violation of federal law,” said EEOC attorney Faye Williams.
January 18, 2012

Rafael's Italian Restaurant Pays $25,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Rafael’s Italian Restaurant will pay $25,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of various female workers. Some of the females were actually teenagers which makes this even more horrific. According to published accounts the sexual harassment was going on for years and management did not stop it. The harassment included crude comments of a sexual nature directed at the females. If that weren't bad enough there were even requests for sex.

In an even more troubling allegation some of the male workers even used vegetables to simulate sodomy and to hit the victims between their legs. It is hard to believe this type of behavior went on without management intervening on behalf of the female workers. Can you imagine sending your daughter to work in a hostile work environment like this? As a result of this settlement the company will have to undergo sexual harassment training and draft a written policy on sexual harassment for all employees to see. I hope there are changes to management and this doesn't happen in the future.

“Allowing serial harassers to victimize female employees without facing consequences is a clear violation of federal law,” said EEOC attorney Faye A. Williams.
January 17, 2012

Findlay Honda Pays $150,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Findlay Honda will pay $150,000 to settle a retaliation and racial discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed on behalf of to two black employees by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts a parts department manager made racially derogatory comments and jokes on a near-daily basis to the two black employees. I know it is hard to believe this type of behavior takes place but it does. Not only did that happen but he also imposed stricter work-related rules on black employees. This type of discrimination is referred to as different terms and conditions.

Two black employees were eventually fired, one after communicating that he was going to file a discrimination charge against the company. This is referred to as retaliation. If you have a negative job action taken against you after complaining about discrimination you have a valid retaliation claim. The amount paid by the company shows they realize they did something wrong and want this to go away. I am glad the EEOC made the company pay up and helped the two workers get some satisfaction.

“We commend Shack-Findlay Automotive for taking proactive measures to ensure a workplace free of discrimination,” said EEOC attorney Anna Y. Park
January 13, 2012

Matrix, LLC. Pays $450,000 To Settle Retaliation With The EEOC

Matrix, L.L.C. pays $450,000 to a class of 15 former employees to settle a racial discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the employees. According to published accounts Matrix officials told white supervisor Barbara Palermi not to hire any more black cleaners. When Palermi hired additional black cleaners based on their qualifications to do the job, Matrix dismissed her in retaliation for opposing the company’s racial discrimination. It is amazing that this type of activity still exists in the United States--but it does.

The EEOC alleged that Matrix management officials also discriminated against the black cleaners by insisting they sit in the back of the cafeteria during break times. At one point they even forbid them from using the cafeteria at all. To make matters worse and in an amazing turn of events Matrix fired all of the employees at the worksite and replaced them with an entirely non-black cleaning crew.

“We commend the company for its agreement to carry out the significant equitable relief provided in the consent decree, including providing expansive annual training, which will benefit all company employees,” said EEOC Attorney Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.
January 12, 2012

Family Dollar Pays $45,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Family Dollar Stores of Virginia, Inc. pays $45,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Chanele Brown. According to the complaint Brown was sexually harassed by her male store manager at the Family Dollar store where she worked. Even though Brown worked as a customer services representative for less than a month she still had a valid sexual harassment complaint against the company because a supervisor was harassing her.

The sexual harassment included the manager groping Brown and propositioning her for sex. Think of the pressure this puts on the worker when her boss is trying to have a sexual relationship and she doesn't want that. To make matters worse the manager also allegedly reduced Brown’s work hours during one week and told her that in order to have the hours reinstated, Brown had to let the manager come to her home. This is called Quid Quo Pro which is Latin for this for that. Brown ended up refusing the manager’s request and resigned the next day. This is referred to as a constructive discharge and means that it is treated under the law as a firing.

“Employers are reminded that it is not enough to have policies prohibiting sexual harassment in place, hidden away in a handbook somewhere,” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes.
January 6, 2012

Are Sexual Text Messages Sexual Harassment In Illinois?

So you are at work and your supervisor starts to send you sexual type messages via text message. What should you do to stop this behavior without losing your job? And does this rise to the level of sexual harassment in Illinois? Well the short answer is yes. In Illinois there is strict liability attached to the company if a supervisor or person in management engages in conduct that can be deemed sexually harassing. So sexual text messages would qualify as sexual harassment in Illinois. And the best part about text messages are they show the phone number sent from and are easy to show ownership. Text messages are great forms of evidence.

One thing you should do is save the text message and print them out so you can' risk losing them. A complaint for sexual harassment can be filed at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and they will automatically file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). I prefer to file with the IDHR because they are required by law to conduct an investigation within one year. The EEOC on the other hand does not have to conduct an investigation within a certain time period. In short, save your text messages and call an experienced employment lawyer.

January 5, 2012

Sexual Orientation Lawsuits On The Rise In Chicago

There are some very troubling statistics regarding discrimination complaints based on sexual orientation in Illinois and in particular in Chicago. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") the number of discrimination charges increased by over 6,000 from the previous year. In Chicago if you are the victim of discrimination based on sexual orientation you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will investigate the complaint and if there is a finding of substantial evidence, the IDHR will allow you to file a complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial. At the IHRC there will be a trial in front of an administrative law judge. You also have an option of filing a lawsuit at the circuit court in the county where the discrimination occurred. An experienced employment lawyer can help you decide which is the best venue.

Even though Chicago is a metropolitan area there are still many narrow-minded people who engage in terrible behavior toward people who are different than they are. In the case of people in the Gay and Lesbian community, small minded people still can make their life miserable at work. Remember if you are the victim of discrimination based on sexual orientation you have rights and an opportunity to make things right. There are remedies that are available to you if you file a timely charge of discrimination at the IDHR. Protect your rights and act quickly. Save any text messages, emails or voice mails that may show discrimination or unwelcome comments. Take notes of things said in private and confront the person doing the discrimination via email so you have a paper trail. Also complain to human resources in writing so you have a record of making the complaint.


December 28, 2011

Italian Restaurant Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $25,000

Rafael’s Italian Restaurant settles a sexual harassment lawsuit for $25,000. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of female employees. To make matters worse, some of the females that were subjected to sexual harassment were teenagers. According to published accounts a male kitchen worker repeatedly subjected female employees to egregious acts of sexual harassment including crude comments, requests for sex and physical touching.

The details of what the men said to these women is troubling and include using vegetables to simulate sodomy and to hit the victims between their legs. The women complained to management but nothing was done to stop it. It is unbelievable that management would not take immediate action and intervene on behalf of the women. You can imagine the impact this had on the teenagers. I am glad the EEOC stepped in and held the company accountable.

“Allowing serial harassers to victimize female employees without facing consequences is a clear violation of federal law,” said EEOC attorney Faye A. Williams.
December 27, 2011

Chicago Hostile Work Environment Facts

I get many calls from people in the Chicago area about their work place and what they believe is a hostile work environment. So what is a hostile work environment in Illinois? Well from a legal perspective, it is being treated different based on a protected category and then this treatment resulting in a work environment that is untenable. So for example if you are the victim of sexual harassment at work and this creates a situation that makes going into work too much for you to handle this would be considered a hostile work environment. You can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

Many people call my office and tell me about what they think is a hostile work environment but under the legal standard it is not. There is no general harassment law in Illinois and if you just have a personality conflict with a boss or co-worker, you have no case. There has to be an underlying case of discrimination. Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to discover the underlying discrimination.

December 24, 2011

How Do You Prove Your Sexual Harassment Case?

So you are at work minding your own business and another worker or supervisor starts to engage in sexual harassment. What are you going to do to stop it? If you come forward and complain to human resources and the other person deny's it will your complaint end there? These are all good questions and issues to consider when trying to decide what to do if you are the victim of sexual harassment at work. So what types of evidence may you utilize to prove you are being sexually harassed? Well there are the obvious ones like text messages, email and voice messages. The problem is many times the person doing the harassment doesn't leave this type of evidence. To make matters worse, sometimes the sexual harassment takes place one-on-one and there are no witnesses. So how can you prove you are being harassed? How can you prove the creation of a hostile work environment?

Well one technique is to send an email or text to the person doing the sexual harassment memorializing what was said and see what type of response you get. For example you can text, do you really want to go out with me for dinner and perhaps more? If the person responds yes, you have proof that he said that to you in person. If the person doesn't respond, you have circumstantial evidence that something is going on, because the person didn't deny the message. This is just one technique that can help you become successful if you go forward with your sexual harassment complaint. If you do go forward you can file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). By the way if you file with the IDHR they automatically cross-file with the EEOC.

December 20, 2011

American Apparel Settles EEOC Lawsuit For $60,000

American Apparel, Inc., pays $60,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission "(EEOC"). According to published accounts American Apparel fired a garment worker while he was on leave because of a disability, and thereby failed to accommodate him based upon that disability. When this type of activity takes place it violates the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA").

Many times businesses will try to discipline employees based on their medical problem. There are protections in place and people should remember the law is on their side. The EEOC along with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") work hard to protect the rights of employees.

"We are pleased that American Apparel recognizes the importance of the ADA and is implementing measures to insure its full compliance with the ADA going forward.” said Anna Y. Park, EEOC attorney.
December 19, 2011

M. Slavin and Sons Pays $900,000 To Settle Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit

M. Slavin & Sons, Ltd., pays $900,000 to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit the was filed on behalf of over 30 black employees. According to published accounts the company created a hostile work environment for the workers based on sexual harassment, national origin, racial discrimination and retaliation.

The company owners and managers harassed the employees making explicit sexual comments and using offensive racial terms such as “n----r” and “African b-----d.” Many of the men endured this treatment because they desperately needed the work.

“Thanks to Kevin Pierson’s EEOC charge and this lawsuit, employees at M. Slavin will now be able to work in an environment free from discrimination,” said EEOC attorney Sunu P. Chandy.
December 15, 2011

Giant Oil Settles ADA Lawsuit With The EEOC For $190,000

D&H Company, Dodge Brothers, Inc., and Giant Oil Company of Arkansas, Inc., pays $190,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA")lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a female worker who had seizures. According to published accounts the company denied the store leader of a reasonable accommodation after she had seizures. What makes matters worst her doctor restricted her from driving so she requested that the employer allow another employee to conduct daily competitor gasoline price surveys while she handled that employee's in-store duties.

Not only did the company not grant the request, they fired her. By not allowing this reasonable accommodation the company violated the law. The request seemed very reasonable and I don't understand why they didn't just grant it. Look at how much money it cost the company to not grant this request.

“The Commission has devoted considerable attention to ensuring compliance with the ADA through the issuance of policy and public attention,” said EEOC attorney Lopez.


December 4, 2011

Sexual Harassment Settlements

There are many steps in a sexual harassment lawsuit. First, the complaint is filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). If you file with the IDHR they will cross-file with the EEOC so you get a two for one. After the complaint is filed there will be a verified answer filed by the company; which is simply an answer filed under oath. After the answer is filed the IDHR will schedule a client interview to get facts and the names of any witnesses. The next step is the fact-finding conference at the IDHR. The fact-finding conference would be attended by the person filing the charge, her attorney, the IDHR investigator and the company representative and their attorney.

Along the way the parties usually try to settle the case. So why should you try and settle the sexual harassment case? There are many reasons why settling is to your advantage. First, you get guaranteed money in your pocket. Remember there is no guarantee you will win your case. Second, you get money today as opposed to perhaps getting money years from now. Third, you don't have to worry about the company going out of business or filing for bankruptcy. Because sexual harassment cases take years to get to trial a company could have financial problems before the case is resolved. I always work hard to settle cases and think it is the best course of action in sexual harassment cases.

December 2, 2011

Lakemont Homes Inc. Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $267,000

Lakemont Homes, Inc. pays $267,000 to settle a class sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of multiple female employees. According to published accounts four female employees of the company endured vulgar sexual comments and unwanted propositions by a male lead sales agent. The women did not want to engage in sex and repeatedly told the male they were not interested.

In a shocking allegation the lead agent asked one of the women to have sex with him, even threatening her life at gunpoint. This is just crazy. I can't believe people actually act like this in the workplace. The women complained to management but nothing was done to stop it. Instead the women were retaliated against for reporting the conduct in the form of unfavorable scheduling and poor performance evaluations. And what happens all too often the women were forced to quit while the harasser remained employed. When an employee is forced to quit because of discrimination it is referred to as a constructive discharge.

“While we commend Lakemont for taking measures to resolve this matter, we hope more employers recognize that they must deal with workplace harassment quickly and effectively,” said EEOC attorney Anna Park.
November 27, 2011

EEOC Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit With Imperial Security Inc. For $50,000

Imperial Security, Inc. agreed to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit for $50,000. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Julie Holloway-Russell. According to published accounts Imperial refused to accommodate the religious beliefs of Russell, who is Muslim. In fact to make matters worse they actually terminated her. This type of activity is also known as retaliation because she complained about being discriminated against.

Russell wore a khimar, which is a religious garb which covers her hair, ears, and neck, as required by her religious beliefs. She wore this when she interviewed for the job of security guard so the company was well aware that she wore this daily. The problem started when she reported to her first work assignment wearing her khima and was told to remove it. She refused to do so because her religious beliefs mandated that she wear the religious head covering. She was terminated at that point.

“The 21st century workplace is increasingly diverse and the resolution of this lawsuit should remind all companies of their legal obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation of an employee’s religious beliefs.”said EEOC District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.
November 24, 2011

MMS Resources Inc Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $365,000

MMS Resources, Inc. pays $365,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of female workers. According to published accounts the president of the company Pat Reed did the sexual harassment. The sexual harassment included sexual comments and touching. In a shocking allegation Reed also had coerced sexual intercourse with employees.

If the employees didn't go along with the sex Reed threatened retaliation. The women were threatened with losing their jobs, raises, promotions or other employment opportunities in the community, if they complained at all. This type of behavior is unreal and I can't believe he actually did this. I am glad the EEOC held the company to a higher standard and made them pay this much money. In the future I hope this guy isn't anywhere near women.

“Employees should be free from harassment based upon their gender, and those who complain about such misconduct should not be in fear of losing their jobs,” said EEOC attorney Webster N. Smith.
November 20, 2011

Garfield Medical Center Pays $530,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Garfield Medical Center pays $530,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of several of the female victims of the sexual harassment. The female workers were either retaliated against or compelled to quit after their complaints were ignored by hospital management. When an employee quits because of the creation of a hostile work environment it is known as a constructive discharge.

According to published accounts a male emergency room admitting representative engaged in sexual harassment of female employees by subjecting them to inappropriate touching and propositions for sex. But the sexual harassment didn't stop there, it also included graphic discussions of sexual activities, and obscene pictures. Many of the female victims had to quit because they couldn't take the harassment anymore. What is really remarkable is that the company took over two years to fire the employee who was doing the harassment. Just think of how many woman had to endure this type of behavior because the company wouldn't take immediate action.

“In order to be productive, employees deserve a workplace free from sexual comments, repeated propositions and inappropriate touching,” said EEOC attorney Anna Y. Park.
November 19, 2011

Koper Furniture Inc. Pays $40,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Koper Furniture, Inc. pays $40,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The retaliation was based on an employee complaining to management about discrimination based on color and then being fired. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of employee Jose Guadalupe. Usually in cases like this the EEOC tries to settle the case before filing a lawsuit but sometimes it takes the lawsuit to get the parties to settle.

For some unknown reasons many companies fire employees who complain about various types of discrimination. The smartest thing to do would be to investigate the claim and take action against the employee who is engaging in this type of conduct. I am baffled why the company always wants to shoot the messenger. But in the end, justice prevails and the company had to pay up.

“We are delighted that this resolution addresses the systemic problems at this workplace that facilitated the discriminatory misconduct,” said EEOC attorney Malcolm S. Medley.
November 15, 2011

Simon Property Group Inc. Pays $125,000 To Settle National Origin Lawsuit

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC') settled a national origin lawsuit with the Simon Property Group, Inc. According to published Latino janitors working for the company were subjected to daily verbal attacks because of their national origin. Examples included a white housekeeping shift leader subjecting the Latino janitors to verbal abuse, including racial slurs.

In a remarkable piece of evidence over twelve Latino janitors submitted written statements complaining about the shift leader. And nothing ws done to stop this conduct. The harassment continued for another year, until the supervisor was finally terminated for other reasons. This type of behavior by a company is not acceptable. The company would have been better off firing this man when the twelve workers came forward and complained.

"National origin discrimination issues are on the rise and we are committed to vigorously enforcing federal laws to ensure workplaces free of harassment and discrimination.” said EEOC attorney Anna Park
November 14, 2011

Mobile Community Action Pays $65,000 To Settle Retaliation and Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Mobile Community Action, Inc. settles a retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts the company fired Donte Bumpers after he opposed sexual harassment. The accounts claims that Bumpers was exposed to numerous instances of unwelcome and offensive sexual remarks by a femal supervisor. This is less common than male supervisors sexually harsassing female workers but it happens. the supervisor also would physically touch Bumpers and he resisted at all times.

Because he would not go along with this activity the supervisor required him to perform demeaning personal tasks unassociated with his job responsibilities in retaliation. Bumpers complained about this type of behavior and was immediately terminated. This is the basis of his retalitation claim. I see more of this activity now that the economy is down and people are afraid of losing their jobs. This case was settled for $65,000 plus attorney fees which could bring the total to six figures.

“This settlement further illustrates the fact that sexual harassment in the workplace is not gender-specific,” said EEOC AttorneyDelner Franklin-Thomas.
November 10, 2011

Illinois Department Of Human Rights Update

My Chicago office files many claims of sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). A person who is the victim of sexual harassment or other form of discrimination in the workplace or public accommodation must first file with the IDHR or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). This must take place prior to having the case heard in federal court, state court or in front of the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC").

Recently because of budget cuts the IDHR has been tasked to lay off 25% of its investigators. This is going to have a dramatic affect of how quickly a case moves through the system and how well victims of discrimination will have justice. You can guess that wiping out 25% of a workforce can only have a negative impact in the quality of service. The IDHR does a great job of investigating claims and trying to resolve cases prior to the filing of a complaint in court or with the IHRC. Hopefully the masterminds in Springfield will come to their senses and stop this insanity.

November 8, 2011

Age Discrimination And Being Replaced By Technology

My offices gets calls from time to time on interesting topics. A recent call set out a series of research querrys involving other states and here is what the question was and what I found. Can an employee over 40 be replaced with technology and if so is that a form of age discrimination under the law? Or course if it is age discrimination the employee could file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") or the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR").

I did some research and found a case from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. It is Cortemoller v. Int'l Furniture Mktg., Inc. In that case Mr. Cortemoller was replaced with some technology that did his job as a communicator. He sued under the age discrimination laws and the district court granted summary judgment to his employer. He appealed and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the lower courts ruling. In short, the court held that technology does not amount to a younger employee. This case is very interesting and I am sure we will see similar challenges in other states and thus other circuits. In the future I could see a similar claim brought by other protected classes of people under for example sexual orientation.

November 5, 2011

Sexual Harassment And Confidentiality Agreements

So you filed a sexual harassment complaint at either the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The case is about to settle and you being told to sign an agreement that includes a paragraph called a confidentiality clause. What is a confidentiality clause and why is it in most sexual harassment agreements? The answer is simple, the clause is effectively a gag making sure you don't discuss the details of the case. Most companies settle the case and don't wish to have negative publicity associated with the case.

The confidentiality clause is also good for the employee. The clause prevents the company from badmouthing or otherwise letting details of the case escape which may put the employee in a negative light. So the confidentiality clause helps both sides and can be seen as a positive. Even if the case has reached the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial the details won't become public unless there is an actual trial. Given this fact, the parties can still settle with the details of the case being kept private. The recent case involving Herman Cain and his sexual harassment lawsuit helps illustrate the importance of a good confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement.

November 4, 2011

Cost Of Defending A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Now that Presidential candidate Herman Cain is being accused of sexual harassment by three different former employees sexual harassment in the workplace is on the forefront. In the Cain case, two former employees settled their claims for an undisclosed amount of money in return for signing a confidentiality agreement. So what is the true cost of settling a sexual harassment case? Well first there is the amount of money you are going to pay the victim. Second, you are going to incur legal fees from your own attorneys which can be substantial. And lastly you are going to have the settlement hang over your head in the future. Case in point the Cain case.

If the company did not settle the sexual harassment claims with Cain's alleged victims, the company could have fought and if they prevailed the facts would be public and Cain would be vindicated. Instead, the facts are hidden and in dispute. So did Cain really sexually harass the women or not? That question is now on the table because the case was settled with a confidentiality agreement. In Illinois a sexual harassment complaint can be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). If you file with the IDHR they will cross-file with the EEOC so you get a two for one. In any event, the true cost of a sexual harassment case may not be determined by crunching the numbers as evidenced by the Cain case.

November 3, 2011

American Laser Centers Pays $125,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

American Laser Centers ("ALC") pays $125,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after initial settlement talks broke down. The sexual harassment started when female workers were harassed by the landlord the the building. The sexual harassment included unwelcome touching, sexual advances and appearances in their work area by the visibly aroused landlord. The landlord also made very disturbing comments to the workers.

The sexual harassment got so bad one female brought her brother to work for protection.
When the women came forward to management nothing was done to stop the harassment and negative job actions ended up taking place against the females. This is the basis for the retaliation claim. Hopefully the company learned its lesson and will train the management employees better in the future.

“Workers absolutely have the legal right to report harassment or discrimination suffered at work without repercussion." Said EEOC attorney Melissa Barrios
October 31, 2011

Jay Medicar Transportation LLC Pays $70,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Jay Medicar Transportation, LLC pays $70,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed in federal court by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of female employees who alleged they were sexually harassed by a senior manager. According to published accounts the Chicago based company had a former management employee who thought he could make women have sex with him in exchange for work related favors. This type of activity is called quid pro quo. It just means that the person is trying to get something for something. The senior manager was telling the women they could get pay raises, or scheduling changes if they had sex with him. He even went so far as to tell them they could be fired if they didn't have sex with him.

One of the discrimination victims alleged the company terminated her on pretextual grounds, rehired her, and then subjected her to adverse terms and conditions of employment as retaliation for her prior complaints of sexual harassment. This type of activity is known as retaliation and is a separate discrimination charge. This manager is no longer working for the company and hopefullly this type of activity won't take place in the future.

“This case alleged that Jay Medicar allowed a high-ranking manager to abuse his position of power by demanding sex in exchange for promotions, schedule changes, and job security,” said EEOC attorney John Hendrickson
October 26, 2011

Sexual Orientation Lawsuits In Chicago

The numbers are in and the fact is the number of sexual orientation lawsuit being filed in Chicago is on the rise. There are a number of reasons this is taking place. First, people are feeling more comfortable about their identity and they are exerting their legal rights when they feel they are the victim of discrimination. Second, the number of people at work who are willing to come forward during investigations regarding sexual orientation seems to be increasing as well. When you combine both of these, the numbers support the increase.

The Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") is the venue I choose to file a sexual orientation claim because they are required by law to complete the investigation within one year. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on the other hand has no such mandate and therefore the case could linger unresolved for years. Also when you file with the IDHR, the case is automatically filed with the EEOC so you get the best of both worlds.

October 21, 2011

American Laser Centers Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $125,000

American Laser Centers pays $125,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of four female employees. Published accounts say that he landlord for American Laser Centers sexual harassed the female employees. The women, allege the sexual harassment included unwelcome touching, and sexual advances. Things got so bad one of the females actually had her brother come into work for protection.

The female employees complained to management but nothing was done to stop the harassment. In fact the female clinic manager was fired just a week and a half after reporting the misconduct. When this type of negative job action takes place it is called retaliation and it is illegal in Illinois. You can see how companies treat people who complain about sexual harassment. It is sad but look at how much money the company ended up paying.

EEOC attorney Melissa Barrios said “Workers absolutely have the legal right to report harassment or discrimination suffered at work without repercussion.”
October 20, 2011

What Is A Constructive Discharge In Illinois?

A constructive discharge is treated in Illinois as a termination. Generally what happens is an employee is the victim of sexual harassment or another form of discrimination, complains to management about it and nothing is done. The situation at work gets so unbearable that any reasonable person would quit. The courts have held that a person does not have to continue working in a hostile work environment once management is aware of the situation and refused to remedy the situation. In Illinois I filed constructive discharge cases with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and they are automatically cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission("EEOC").

There are very strict time limits for filing such complaints and it is very important to not miss the filing deadline or else your case will be lost forever. Many times management will say they are investigating the complaint and they will drag their feet and waiting until the 180 days is past. By doing this, the company will have prevented you from filing with the IDHR because the statute of limitations will be in affect. It is very important to speak with an employment lawyer so you can learn your rights and not let the company push you around.

October 11, 2011

Sexual Harassment And Human Resources

There is a dirty little secret regarding sexual harassment investigations within corporations. Let's take the following example to illustrate what I mean. Suzy the secretary gets sexually harassed by Bob the boss. The sexual harassment includes comments about how sexy she looks, and about her body. It is obvious the boss wants to have sex with her. Suzy reports this conduct to human resources under the corporations sexual harassment policy. Now here is what Suzy doesn't know but should. In Illinois she has 180 days from the date of the last sexual harassing incident to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or 300 days with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Those are strict time limits also known as statutes of limitations. Miss those deadlines by even one day and Suzy's case is lost. No matter how much of a hostile work environment was created she will be unable to pursue her case once the 300 days has past.

You ask why that is important? The answer is simple, many times corporate human resource departments know about the strict time limits and use them to their advantage by dragging out investigations. The human resource department will say they have to interview witnesses, gather documents, meet with various people. They may claim people are out of the office or on vacation. All the while the clock is ticking. They may make an initial report and ask Suzy to comment on it or submit other information and before you know it the 300 days has past and Suzy is out of luck. This is why it is very important to get an employment lawyer involved early in the process. The preferred method for Suzy would be to file a complaint with the IDHR--and they will cross-file with the EEOC. The corporation can still conduct their investigation during this time, but Suzy will have protection and leverage.

October 8, 2011

7th Circuit Court of Appeals Allows Retaliation Lawsuit To Be Heard

The U.S Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Belinda Egan vs. Freedom Bank et al., is allowing the retaliation lawsuit to go forward. In a mixed ruling for Egan she lost on two other counts but at least won on the retaliation clam. According to published accounts Ms. Egan was recruited to become Vice-President of retail banking at Freedom Bank in July 2007. In September of that year, after a bank director made an unwelcome sexual advance, she complained to the bank's vp of human resources about the sexual harassment. In what shows that she was telling the truth the company investigated and the director resigned.

Meanwhile, Egan was terminated under the guise of an elimination of her person. The negative job action came after a short period of time of complaining of sexual harassment thereby raising the inference of retaliation. Egan filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She also added two additional counts to the lawsuit, one for a hostile work environment and one for gender discrimination. The lower federal court granted the bank summary judgment dismissing the charges and the case went to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

The Court said "that the company hired four other persons in the first few months of Barajas's tenure. And Egan had no performance issues.”
October 6, 2011

Roberts Truck Centers Pays $300,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

Roberts Truck Centers settles a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit for $300,000 after the case was filed by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of female workers. According to published accounts Larry Leyva, subjected Katherine Abernathy and three other women to sexual harassment. When sexual harassment is against so many different women there has to be a real lack of management in this orgainization. How can all of this take place and nobody is noticing what is going on? I guess the organization just kept on trucking.

To make matters worse, Abernathy suffered retaliation for complaining about the sexual harassment and was fired after asking that the sexual harassment stop. When an employee complains about discrimination and is then fired, it is called retaliation. This company seems like it doesn't have a clue when it comes to the rights of workers. The EEOC was vigilant and made sure the company had to compensate the workers that were subjected to the sexual harassment.

“Employers must constantly remind their managers of their obligation to maintain workplaces where employees are not subjected to illegal harassment or retaliation.” said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill.
September 29, 2011

Smile Brands Pays $175,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Smile Brands of Texas, L.P., pays $175,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of Deanna Chaney and Jan Pawelek. According to published accounts both females were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment. The sexual harassment included unwanted sexual comments and sexual touching. The women told the dentist to stop this conduct but it fell on deaf ears. The women then went to management to complain about the sexual harassment but nothing was done to stop it.

Some of the more disturbing aspects of the sexual harassment included the dentist telling unsolicited sexual stories, touching the women's breasts and he even attempted to kiss them. This type of behavior is well over the top and I am glad that the EEOC held them accountable. The money the company paid to settle this case it could have put to more productive use like training people properly.

"This was an outrageous case of sexual harassment in which an educated dental professional was enabled to abuse his power and subject his female employees to ongoing, unwanted, sexually vulgar comments and touches," said EEOC Attorney Devika Seth.
September 28, 2011

Aqua Tri Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $462,000

Aqua Tri settles a sexual harassment lawsuit for $462,500. The lawsuit also alleged retaliation and constructive discharge. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of hispanic workers. According to published accounts, supervisors subjected at least eight Hispanic female employees to a sexually hostile work environment which included inappropriate touching, pressuring them for dates and sex. This kind of behavior is not acceptable and will cost a company a great deal of money each time.

The female workers reported the sexual harassment to management but nothing was done to stop it. Some of the females were even told if they had sex with the supervisors they could be promoted. Several employees were either laid off or discharged following an Aqua Tri internal investigation in 2009 due to their perceived support of the victims’ claims. It is illegal to take a negative job action against any employee who participates in a discrimination investigation.

“We commend Aqua Tri for implementing aggressive injunctive relief measures to ensure this will not happen again,” said EEOC attorney Anna Park.
September 27, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Involving The Doctors Company Settles For $230,000

The Doctors Company ("TDC"), settles sexual harassment lawsuit for $230,000. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a young administrative assistant named Kimber Thompson. Thompson was sexually harassed by her direct supervisor on a daily basis. According to published accounts the sexual harassment included inappropriate comments about her appearance, inappropriate text messages and e-mails.

In a real ironic twist the company provided anti-sexual harassment training and once realizing that she had rights, Thompson then reported this conduct to management. She even brought along a co-worker as a witness to the sexual harassment which included physical touching. As is typical these days with many companies the company began to hyper-scrutinize the work of the two women and subsequently fired both of them. In Illinois this is considered retaliation and is actionable.

EEOC Attorney William R. Tamayo said, “We hope that this case serves as a reminder to employers to address complaints of harassment and take measures to prevent retaliation."
September 25, 2011

Sexual Harassment Investigations

Here is a scenario that is all to familiar. An employee reports sexual harassment to management or to human resources and as a result starts to get treated in a hostile manner. What will generally happen is management will let the complaint leak out to the other employees and the employee who reported the sexual harassment will now start to experience a hostile work environment from the other employees. Of course in order to do a proper investigation it may be necessary to give details including the reporting employees name. But in many cases a discreet investigation can take place protecting the identity of the employee who is reporting the sexual harassment.

Another issue that comes up with people who report sexual harassment in the workplace is the person doing the harassing may be friends with other managers or employees. In this instance the other employees or managers start to treat the person reporting sexual harassment in a negative way because they view this as an attack on their friend. When this type of activity occurs it is very important to file a complaint with either the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). I prefer to file with the IDHR because they cross-file with the EEOC so you can get two for one. Additionally, the IDHR is mandated by law to complete their investigation within one-year and the EEOC is not. So for my money, the IDHR is the way to go.

September 24, 2011

Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc. Pays $160,000 To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc., will pay $160,000 to settle a American's With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleged that Maxim failed to provide reasonable accommodations and ultimately discharged Anne Whitledge, director of clinical services, because she had brain cancer. Talk about a cold hearted company. Can you imagine how bad it is to be told you have brain cancer and then have the other shoe drop and have your company fire you. Cold hearted bastards. Ms. Whitledge died before the lawsuit settled so they money will go to her estate. I am so glad the EEOC held the company accountable on this one. The EEOC is vigilant about making sure this type of activity does not take place.

In addition to paying the money Maxim had to undergo discrimination training for employees and send a letter of condolences to the children of Anne Whitledge. I hope people remember this company and what they did. The company should be embarrassed treating an employee this way. It is illegal to treat an employee different because of a disability. This case is one of the more extreme examples of horrible treatment by a company. This type of employment discrimination will cost the company money and bad publicity every time.

“This was a heartbreaking case,” said EEOC Attorney John Hendrickson “Anne Whitledge battled cancer and lost the job she loved because of it."
September 22, 2011

Request A File From The EEOC In A Sexual Harassment Case

Under the law in Illinois, a party to a lawsuit may request their file from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). In order to get the fle the request must be made in writing and mailed or faxed to the EEOC's Chicago office. The address of the Chicago office is 500 West Madison St, Suite 2000, Chicago IL 60661. The fax number for the EEOC is 312-869-8220. Remember the investigator's file is extremely important and will contain some great information regarding your claim. It is very important that you don't miss this opportunity to get extra information regarding your sexual harassment lawsuit.

There are a few caveats to getting the file. First if you are the Respondent, you only get access to the file after a lawsuit has been filed in Federal court. Second, if you are the Complainant, you can get the file before filing the lawsuit (within 90 days of getting the right to sue letter) or after you file the lawsuit (as long as you include the first page of your federal complaint). This information on only applies to sexual harassment lawsuits but any type of employment discrimination lawsuit that is filed with the EEOC. One last note, you have to pay the copying cost for the file. The file will be copied by Aloha Document Services, located at 60 East Van Buren, Suite 1502, Chicago IL 60606--their number is 312-542-1300.

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September 21, 2011

Lowe's Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit For $120,000

Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc. pays $120,000 to settle a religious discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after Lowes refused to reasonably accommodate the sincerely held religious belief of an employee. Under the law a company must allow for a reasonable accommodation for religious beliefs that are true and honest.

In this case the worker requested being excused from working on the Christian Sabbath. This doesn't sound like a big deal and the company should have just allowed the man the day off. Instead the company retaliated against him when it scheduled him to work on the Sabbath for 27 out of 28 weeks. Try explaining that one to St. Peter at the gate.

"This settlement ensures that this employee will continue to receive the accommodation he should have been granted to begin with, and that managers and human resource personnel understand heir obligations under the law,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Faye A. Williams.
September 17, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuits In Chicago

I often get asked about what to do if you are the victim of sexual harassment at work? There are several options that are available to you. First you can file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). Second, you can file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Lastly, if you are in Chicago, you can file with the Chicago Department of Human Rights. I always file with the IDHR because they cross-file with the EEOC so you get a two-for-one. And the IDHR is mandated by law to complete an investigation within one year. It is always in the best interest of the employee to have the case settled sooner rather than later so the IDHR helps with the settlement process because the investigate the complaint quickly.

There are many things to keep in mind that will affect your case. First, don't talk about your case with anyone. Second, don't post things about your case online. Many times people post things on Facebook or Tweet about their case. This is not a good idea and something said online could be used against you in the case. If you are complaining that the sexual harassment created a hostile work environment and then you engage in similar activity online, it will hurt your case. The bottom line is to keep quiet and just talk about your case with your attorney.

September 16, 2011

ABM Industries Pays $180,000 To Settle National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit

ABM Industries settles a national origin discrimination lawsuit for $180,000. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after a thorough investigation by the agency. According to details which were published, supervisors at the company discriminated against Latino janitors by giving them less preferable assignments despite their seniority. In addtion to that, the supervisors removed them from long favored positions. The workers complained about the discriminatory conduct and ABM engaged in retaliation against the men after they filed with the EEOC.

The company should have kept better controls on its supervisors and should have taken the complaints seriously. Once the EEOC got involved the company had to change its' tune and could no longer sweep this under the rug. It has been my experience that companies like to put off doing anything unless forced to.

“We commend the workers who came to us and filed charges, who recognized a problem in their workplace and were willing to come to the EEOC to seek to remedy it. Their coming forward will result in positive changes in the workplace.” said EEOC attorney Michael Baldonado
September 15, 2011

Allsup's Pays $37,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Allsup’s Convenience Stores, Inc. pays a former employee $37,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Orvel Pape, a manager-in-training who had worked for the company for almost ten years, was fired because he cooperated with an EEOC investigation of another employee’s charge of disability discrimination. There have been recent cases that protect a employee during an investigation. Another words, if the EEOC conducts an investigation, an employee cannot be fired for cooperating with investigators.

These types of cases illustrate that employers have to treat investigations seriously. They can't just threaten or fire employee who do not play ball with the company. They can't force employees to lie and not be truthful to investigators. I see this type of thing all the time where a company tries to strong arm employees. I am glad the EEOC held the companies feet to the fire on this one.

“Mr. Pape, a dedicated ten-year employee, was asked by Allsup’s to speak with an EEOC Investigator about his co-worker’s allegations of discrimination, and was dealt the ultimate punishment for simply following those instructions,” said EEOC Attorney Meaghan Shepard.
September 14, 2011

Holiday Specialtrees Pays $110,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Holiday Specialtrees pays $110,000 to settle a sexual harassment and national origin discrimination lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after two male workers were targeted because of their national origin. Both men were Mixtec, an indigenous group from Oaxaca, Mexico. When a worker is targeted because his national origin it is a form of discrimination. In this case you can see how much money the company had to pay because of the actions of its' employees.

Published accounts allege a supervisor and other workers would expose themselves to the Mixtec workers while making sexual comments--this is sexual harassment. To make matters even worse several co-workers would grab the men’s buttock and chest area, or grab them from behind and simulate anal sex. Can you imagine going to work every day and having this happen to you? It is incredible that this type of activity actually takes place at work.

“This case highlights the prejudices that a minority-within-a-minority can face,” said EEOC Attorney William R. Tamayo
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September 12, 2011

Cake Shop Sued For Sexual Harassment

ABC Cake Shop & Bakery is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for sexual harassment. The sexual harassment took place at work and involved a large group of female workers including teenagers. According to published accounts one of the owners would make sexual comments and engaged in unwelcome touching which created a hostile work environment for the female workers.

Some of the women who could not tolerate the sexual harassment were forced to quit their jobs which is commonly referred to as a constructive discharge. I will be following this case and I believe the women will receive a nice settlement as a result of what took place. It is very tough on employees when the person doing the harassment is the owner. Who do you report that to? The answer is you file a complaint with the EEOC or other state agency and proceed that way. In Illinois you can file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR does a better job of quickly investigating complaints of discrimination.

"Employers of all sizes have an important responsibility to maintain a workplace that is free of sexual harassment.” said EEOC attorney Elizabeth Cadle
September 10, 2011

Grays Harbor Community Hospital Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $125,000

Grays Harbor Community Hospital pays $125,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of four pharmacy technicians. According to published accounts regarding the lawsuit a supervising pharmacist was sexually harassing the technicians.
The sexual harassment consisted of offensive sexual comments which included details of his own sex life. If that wasn't bad enough he even provide details of how he masturbated.

This guy sounds like a real creep. He would even grab the females and make them feel very uncomfortable. You can see how much money and the bad publicity it costs a company when they fail to properly supervise an employee. Not only the money but think of the impact this had on the females. I am glad the EEOC stuck with this case and made the company pay.

“Employers have a duty to promptly and effectively respond to complaints of sexual harassment. When employers fail to take such reports seriously, the EEOC will take action to make sure women are not treated this way in the workplace,” said EEOC attorney Michael Baldonado

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September 9, 2011

Arizona Logistics Pays $175,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Arizona Logistics, Inc. will pay $175,000 to five former employees to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the former employees by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The EEOC is one of the places you can file a sexual harassment lawsuit. The other place in Illinois is the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR").

According to published accounts former Regional Director Mark Berault sexually harassed the five former employees. What is even worse, Berault sexually assaulted several of the women. That is incredible that this was taking place during business hours. Berault also engaged in unwelcome touching and indecent exposure. Of course this also created a hostile work environment for every employee. Glad the company had to pay and hope it smartens up and institutes some good sexual harassment policies in the future.

“This was an outrageous case of sexual harassment involving a supervisor who preyed upon vulnerable female employees, subjecting them to some of the most extreme forms of sexual harassment,” said EEOC Attorney Mary J. O’Neill.
September 5, 2011

Sexual Harassment and College Professors

Well it's time for college students to head back to school. This could present problems for both students and the college. There are more cases of sexual harassment directed against Universities than most people think. The reason for this is that many college professors have sex with their students. You would think the colleges and universities would have strict policies against this type of behavior, but they only seem to give it lip service. There are many college professors that get caught having sex with students and they are still allowed to teach. It is amazing that this practice continues, but it does. When a college professor has sex with a student it could create a hostile work environment for all students if the students are involved with a work type program.

My Chicago office is constantly getting calls from students who had sex with their college professor. Many times the relationship is deemed consensual by the university administration but how can you have a truly consensual relationship with the teacher/student dynamic? I alway file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") instead of with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The reason for this is that the IDHR cross-files with the EEOC and the IDHR is mandated by law for complete an investigation within one-year. Also, the IDHR seems to do a better job at conducting a timely investigation.

September 4, 2011

Otsego Township Pays $60,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Otsego Township settled a sexual harassment lawsuit for $60,000. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Stephanie Britton a township grounds keeper. Britton not only was able to get $60,000 but she also got her job back. She had been fired by the Township and the firing was part of her complaint.

Britton alleged Otsego Township originally hired her as a groundskeeper and claimed her supervisor would make sexual comments directed at her. She said he would begin talking about a woman he knew with large breasts. She also alleged he would ask about the sex life of her and her husband and make other inappropriate comments. You can see how much money and time this lawsuit cost the Township and at the end of the day they had to give her the job back. It would have made more sense if they didn't fire her to begin with and just would have investigated her claim in a serious fashion.

”I would have liked to have worked for the township for five years or more,” Britton said.
September 3, 2011

AA Enterprises, Inc. Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $80,000

AA Enterprises, Inc. pays $80,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of four female employees. According to published accounts regarding the lawsuit, AA required the four females, who were pregnant to pay for their own medical expenses-while other non-pregnant employees did not have to.

In an even more troubling revelation, the pregnant women were threatened with a negative job action in the form of termination if they did not agree to pay for their own medical expenses. Two of the pregnant women ended up being fired after filing a complaint with the EEOC. This type of behavior is illegal and will get a company in trouble every time. In short, a female cannot be treated different just because she is pregnant.

“Pregnancy discrimination is a continuing problem in the CNMI,” said EEOC attorney Anna Y. Park.
September 2, 2011

Sexual Orientation and a Hostile Work Environment

There is no general harassment law in Illinois. This means if you are just being treated badly by the boss--too bad. However, if you are being treated in a discriminatory way that is a different story. So for example if the boss is treating you terrible and also calling you gay and making anti-homosexual comments that would form the basis for a sexual orientation discrimination claim. The claim could be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). I prefer to file with the IDHR because the are mandated to investigate within one year and they are required to cross-file with the EEOC.

Along with the person being discriminated against, other employees may also be in a hostile work environment as a result of what is taking place. The reason for this is when conduct is taking place that is discriminatory it affects all employees. Also, if there is an investigation, other employees can get dragged into it and then have negative job actions taken against them for cooperating during the investigation. Even though we are at a point in time where the state of Illinois allows for civil unions between same sex couples, there is still a great deal of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

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September 1, 2011

Applebee's Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $1 Million

Food Management Investors, Inc. (FMI) and Apple Core Enterprises, Inc., doing business as Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar will pay $1 Million to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after former store manager Mike Cordova engaged in behavior that was discriminatory. According to published accounts Cordova would grope females on a daily basis in a sexual fashion. Even more troubling is that Cordova would seek sexual relations from the females he was supervising which would put them in a very tough position. This type of sexual harassment is called a quid quo pro, meaning this for that.

Cordova even exposed himself to a female. It is hard to imagine this guy did any real work for the company. This type of behavior is really out of hand and you can see by the settlement amount that the company realized it as well. I mean paying this large amount should tell everyone what was really going on in this place. The employees would constantly complain to management about what was taking place and the company did not care. It wasn't until five women who worked here filed a sexual harassment complaint that something was finally done to stop it.

“This manager’s sexual harassment of his subordinates was blatant and ugly, and it permeated every aspect of life on the job for these women." said John Hendrickson, Chicago EEOC attorney.

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August 31, 2011

Pine View Living Inc. Sued For Retaliation

Pine View Living, Inc. is being accused of violating federal law by firing an employee for filing a job discrimination complaint. This is commonly referred to as retaliation. The against Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed the complaint on behalf of Rae Anderson. According to published accounts Anderson was fired from her job because she complained to management and ended up filing a discrimination claim based on racial discrimination.

It is always amazing that a company can be so stupid as to fire an employee after they file a formal complaint of discrimination. It is against the law to punish an employee for asserting her rights. My Chicago office is seeing more and more of this type of activity and we are fighting hard to make sure it doesn't continue to happen. I will be following this case to see if the parties are able to settle prior to trial. Over 90% of all lawsuits end up settling prior to trial.

EEOC Chicago Attorney John C. Hendrickson said, “Title VII’s anti-retaliation provision means what it says: Don’t retaliate.”
August 30, 2011

Hostile Work Environment Can't Be Based On General Harassment In Illinois

In the State of Illinois there is no such thing as general harassment. The legislature tried unsuccessfully to pass a bullying in the workplace law but it was defeated. What that means is if your boss is just a general jerk and yells and screams there isn't much you can do other than quit. Unless the hostile work environment is created because of sexual harassment, age discrimination or other forms of recognized discrimination you can't file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") or the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). If the hostile work environment is being created based on a discriminatory category you can file directly with either the IDHR or EEOC--although I recommend hiring an employment lawyer on contingency to file on your behalf and to protect your rights.

My Chicago offices gets many calls from employee who are the victims of general harassment and unfortunately there isn't much I can do. However it is always a good idea to call my office or the office of an employment attorney to discuss because sometimes even though the boss is being a jerk and it seems like a general harassment case, he may only be yelling at you because you are the only female or only gay employee in which instance you may have a case.

August 27, 2011

Huntersville Searford Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $86,000

Huntersville Seafood, Inc. pays $86,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after Peter Economos and other male employees came forward with complaints about being sexually harassed by a male co-worker. It is unusual to have a sexual harassment case involving male-on-male sexual harassment.

The lawsuit details are troubling. According to published accounts the victims were touched on the buttocks, nipples, and testicles and were subjected to almost daily sexual gestures and comments. The employees complainted to management about what was going on and even the owner was made aware--but nothing happened. In fact after Economos complained about the sexual harassment, he was terminated. It is called retaliation when you are fired for complaining about discrimination.

EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes said ,“This settlement is a great result for Mr. Economos and the other victims of the harassment.” “This case serves as a reminder to employers that sexual harassment can occur between employees of the same sex and must be addressed if it occurs.”
August 26, 2011

Briggs Equipment Inc. Settles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit For $112,000

Briggs Equipment, Inc. pays $112,000 to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and alleged that Bobby Wysong was subjected to racial discrimination when he was terminated from his position as a technician because of his race, black. A company cannot take an adverse action against an employee based on his race or other protected category. In Illinois this type of activity could result in a complaint being filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") as well as the EEOC.

According to published accounts Briggs subjected Wysong to a hostile work environment by employees calling Briggs various derogatory names. The main culprit was management employee Mario Rodriguez who referred to Wysong as a “n----r,” “slave” and “dark horse” in conjunction with expressly stating he wanted Wysong fired. The amazing thing was Rodriguez admitted to the comments and other employees also came forward to corroborate the story.

EEOC attorney Eduardo Juarez said “Not only have we obtained significant financial relief for Bobby Wysong, the employment practices that Briggs uses will be greatly improved. No one should have to put up with racial abuse in their place of work – or, even worse, losing his livelihood because of racism.”

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August 25, 2011

Forrest City Grocery Company Pays $125,000 To Settle Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Forrest City Grocery Company will pay $125,000 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit. The gender discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of employee Amanda McMillan who was denied a sales position because she was female. This type of behavior is against the law and will result in a lawsuit every time. The EEOC is very vigilant about this type of activity and as you can see by the large settlement amount, they make companies pay when they engage in this type of behavior.

Details in the lawsuit allege the company told McMillan the job of a salesman was too dangerous for a woman, and that she would not be a good mother if she were on the road meeting customers. Apparently McMillan was also paid less money than her male counterparts. It is hard to believe people in leadership positions still make comments like this. The EEOC was able to settle this quickly and McMillan received a nice payday.

“Women make valuable contributions to the work force, yet they are too often denied opportunities at work based on gender stereotypes and old-fashioned ideas about a woman’s proper place,” said EEOC attorney Delner Franklin-Thomas.
August 24, 2011

Premier Well Services LLC Pays $30,000 To Settle Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

Premier Well Services, LLC, pays $30,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") because the company refused to hire an applicant because of his religious beliefs. It is illegal for a company to ask about a persons religious beliefs or to take any type of negative action based on religion.

Premier Well denied that it engaged in any type of discrimination and claims it only settled the case to put the matter behind them. This type of excuse is often used and in my opinion paying $30,000 is more than just putting the case behind them. There must have been more to it than just an allegation.

“Because of the economy, job applicants face many obstacles in finding employment,” EEOC Attorney Faye Williams.
August 23, 2011

3M Pays $3 Million To Settle Age Discrimination Lawsuit

3M pays $3 million to a class of former employees to settle a nationwide age discrimination lawsuit, The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of hundreds of employees over the age of 45 during a series of reductions in force from July 1, 2003 through Dec. 31, 2006. As is typical with big companies 3M laid off many highly paid older employees to save money. Employees give the most productive years of their lives to big companies and then they get the ax. This is a horrible way to treat workers. Treating a worker different based on age violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("AEDA") and will result in a claim of age discrimination.

The lawsuit also alleged that older employees were denied leadership training and laid off to make way for younger leaders. During discovery in the lawsuit the EEOC uncovered an employee e-mail describing then-CEO Jim McNerney’s “vision for leadership development” as “we should be developing 30 year olds with General Manager potential” and “He wants us to tap into the youth as participants in the leadership development.” These were all code words for get rid of the old workers and hire new younger ones. Well the EEOC did not give up and held the companies feet to the fire. A settlement this large should send a signal to other would be discriminating companies.

“The law requires employers to base employment decisions upon each person’s strengths and talents instead of relying upon generalized assumptions calculated around an employee’s age,” said EEOC attorney Michael Baldonado.

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August 20, 2011

Starbuck Pays $75,000 To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Starbucks will pay $75,000 to settle an Americans With Disability Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The ADA lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), on behalf of Elsa Sallard, a dwarf who was alleging a reasonable accommodation from the company under the ADA. Sallard was denied a job at Starbucks because of her size. Sallard applied for a job that said no experience required and she was then told she wasn't tall enough to serve coffee and work. This type of employment discrimination is not tolerated any longer around the country and in Illinois.

Sallard alleged that during the orientation training, she could use a stool or small stepladder to more easily perform some of the tasks of preparing orders and serving customers. The manager at Starbucks disregarded Sallard’s request, and on the same day Starbucks terminated her employment, claiming that she would pose a “danger” to customers and employees. Talk about being cruel and not very understanding. The company is required by law to make a reasonable accommodation if it does not present a business problem.

“Starbucks swift action to work constructively with the EEOC in this case, not only by compensating the applicant who was turned away, but by committing to additional training for other stores in the El Paso area, sends the right signal from the corporate office,” said EEOC attorney Robert A. Canino
August 18, 2011

Allstar Fitness Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $150,000

Allstar Fitness pays $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after the employee came forward with a complaint. According to documents that are available to the public a custodial worker says she was raped repeatedly by her immediate supervisor, while working at two Allstar Fitness locations. Of course rape is a criminal offense and it is unclear as to whether criminal charges were filed.

The woman claims she was fired by her immediate supervisor when she reported it to management. When you report sexual harassment and are then fired it is called retaliation. The company really made a mistake when it fired the worker shortly after she complained about sexual harassment. In Illinois there is strict liability if a supervisor and person he controls engage in sex. If you look at how much money was given to settle this case, that should tell you how factual the complaint of sexual harassment was.

"They should have known better, as an employer you absolutely have the duty and obligation to protect your workers.", said EEOC attorney May Che
August 17, 2011

New York University Pays $210,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

New York University ("NYU") pays $210,000 to settle a national origin discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit alleged that NYU violated federal law by subjecting an African-born employee from Ghana to a hostile work environment that included degrading verbal harassment. When an employee is subjected to hostile comments it not only affects that employee but it can have a negative impact on all employees.

Published accounts reveal that the supervisor of the mailroom regularly addressed the employee with slurs such as “monkey” and “gorilla” and insults such as “go back to your cage” and “do you want a banana?” It is unbelievable that this type of conduct was taking place at an institution of higher learning. It took NYU a very long time to investigate the employee’s many complaints and then took virtually no corrective action. To make matters worse, NYU was even aware that the supervisor made up stories to get the man in trouble and to discipline him. I am glad the man hung in there and made the University pay.

“This suit shows that ugly harassment and retaliation can happen anywhere, even at a prestigious university,” said EEOC Gillian L. Thomas
August 16, 2011

Marital Status Inquiry A Form Of Discrimination

In Illinois it is a violation of the law for an employer to inquire as to your marital status. Many people will say that this sounds odd and what is the big deal? Well the problem with asking about the marital status is two fold. First, an employer may decide that a single person may be less stable or may have a harder time juggling home and kids with work. Second, and employer doesn't have a need to know your personal business. Whether you are married or not doesn't have anything to do with your job.

If you are being asked these types of questions or if you are not being promoted because you are a single mother you can contact my office and we can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). Any claim filed with the IDHR will be cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") but the IDHR will take the lead in investigation. Any form of discrimination also creates a hostile work environment for workers and should be addressed. Other forms of discrimination get more headlines and are more familiar to people but marital status discrimination is actionable in Illinois.

August 13, 2011

Woodman's Settles ADA Lawsuit For $35,000

Woodman’s Food Market’s, Inc. filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. In its lawsuit, the EEOC contended that Woodman’s unlawfully fired employee because of her back condition.
Woodman’s store settled an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit for $35,000. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after Woodman's terminated Kimberly McMillan-Goodwin, a long-term Woodman’s employee who worked as a clerk at its gas station. The reason for her termination was because she had a back condition that kept her from lifting more than ten pounds. Under the law a company must make a reasonable accommodation for an employee or be in violation of the ADA.

According to details in the lawsuit McMillan-Goodwin had successfully worked in that position with the lifting restriction for many years. The problem was Woodman’s placed McMillan-Goodwin on medical leave and then terminated her. This type of blatant activity will always result in the company paying money for discrimination. I am happy to report that the company will undergo training and the EEOC will make sure the company puts better policies in place in the future. This type of behavior also creates a hostile work environment for all employees because they can see the harmful treatment of a fellow employee.

“This case might never have arisen if Woodman’s had had clear policies and training to guide its management and human resources employees on the requirements of the ADA,” said EEOC Attorney John Hendrickson.
August 12, 2011

Williams Country Sausage Pays $60,000 To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Williams Country Sausage ("WCS") pay $60,000 to settle a racial harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accoutns WCS was paying an African-American maintenance worker less than white counterparts and subjecting him to a hostile work environment. The worker had to work just as hard as the other employees for a lower wage--that isn't right.

WCS gave raises and paid higher salaries to all maintenance department employees except the department’s lone African-American employee and allowed a supervisor to regularly use racially offensive language toward the employee because of racial animus. This type of activity is not right and I am glad the employee stood up and did not take it. WCS should be embarassed by the actions that took place and hopefully this won't happen in the future.

“Sadly, race discrimination continues to exist in the workplace where workers are paid less and forced to endure a racially hostile work environment,” said EEOC attorney Faye A. Williams.
August 11, 2011

MV Transportation Settles Gender Discrimination Lawsuit For $35,000

MV Transportation settled a gender discrimination lawsuit today that was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts two former female bus cleaners alleged that they were treated differently and ultimately terminated due to their gender. The fact that the company settled this case early and for a low amount suggests the facts may not have been the greatest to move forward. In cases like gender discrimination many times comparisions must be done with male workers to show a bias.

In Illinois there is a rise in general on discrimination cases including gender discrimination. The workforce is so tight and scared right now that many employees believe they have to put up with discrimination because they fear for their jobs. It is very important that people still stand up for their rights and don't get pushed around.

“MV Transportation is to be commended for agreeing to substantial injunctive relief and we hope other employers will take similar proactive action,” said EEOC attorney Anna Y. Park.
August 9, 2011

Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington Pays $100,000 To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") settled a discrimination lawsuit with the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington ("JCCGW") for $100,000. According to published accounts JCCGW violated the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") when it demoted and fired an assistant teacher because of her hearing impairment. It is very troubling that a community center would act this way and engage in this type of discrimination against such a vulnerable person. The EEOC held this organization responsible for discrimination and hopefully in the future this type of behavior will not happen again.

The lawsuit alleged Carole Schulman satisfactorily performed her job duties as a nursery school assistant teacher at JCCGW. Schulman was able to fulfill every aspect of her job safely, with no threat to anyone. Schulman was denied an accommodation, demoted to a lower-paying position as a mail room clerk and ultimately removed from the preschool altogether because of her hearing impairment. The settlement amount is a good indication that JCCGW realized it did her wrong.

“We are pleased that the company agreed to resolve the case by providing substantial monetary relief to Ms. Schulman – and agreeing to other terms that will help protect other employees from disability discrimination,” said EEOC Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
August 8, 2011

Monroe County Pays $100,000 To Settle Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Monroe County will pay former Public Works Department employee Benjamin Moore nearly $100,000 to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit. According to published accounts Moore, an African-American, was passed over for promotions because of his race. Moore first filed his complaint of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") Moore said supervisor Marty Gates regularly used racial slurs toward him and other employees.

In a remarkable turn of events Gates admitted to using the racial slurs. Moore did not let the county get away with this type of behavior and he pursued his claim with the EEOC and forced a settlement. The county tried to allege that Moore had excessive absences and that is why he was fired but obviously paying $100,000 to Moore tells the real story.


August 5, 2011

Rock-Tenn Pays $160,000 To Settle A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Rock-Tenn Company pays $160,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a female worker after she was the victim of sexual harassment. The company really messed this up and look at how much this cost them. I am amazed at how little effort and time companies take in training their employees about sexual harassment.

According to published accounts the company investigated the sexual harassment complaint by the female worker but the harassment continued. One of the women had been forced to resign due to the ongoing harassment which is called a constructive discharge. I am sure in the future the company will take sexual harassment in a more serious fashion.

Pamela B. Dixon, an EEOC trial attorney said, “Even though Rock-Tenn denied that it had violated the law, we are pleased that the parties worked cooperatively to resolve this lawsuit.”
August 4, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuits Increasing In Chicago

My Chicago office is seeing a rise in the number of sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuits throughout the state. Of course one reason is probably the down economy and the lack of money companies want to spend on employee training. By in the long run the extra money spent on proper training will pay for itself because of the large settlement amounts that can be awarded by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") through the settlement process or by the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") or by a jury in a federal court proceeding.

Many times employers believe they can let their human resource department sweep the whole thing under the rug and take care of it. This usually does not take care of the matter and if the employee were smart she would contact an employment attorney for advice. My office handles these claims all the time and remember the company is getting legal advice so you should too.

August 2, 2011

Analytic Stress Relieving Inc. Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $75,000

Analytic Stress Relieving Inc. pays $75,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). According to published accountsThe EEOC Analytic Stress terminated a female employee in retaliation for her complaints about sexual harassment. Companies continue to amaze me with how stupid they are when handling a sexual harassment complaint. In this case look at the money this cost them. And they lost a good employee.

Ashley Maygar was fired because she complained that an acting supervisor engaged in offensive and unwanted sexually suggestive behavior in the workplace. An employee is protected by law against being fired if she complains about discriminatory conduct--which includes sexual harassment. In this case, the company fired Maygar because she brought up the sexual harassment. It is important for people to realize their rights and to seek out an employment attorney for advice if they believe they have a problem.

“Unfortunately, we see retaliation as an allegation in a very large segment of the charges filed with EEOC. We intend to protect the rights of employees to complain about illegal behavior,” said EEOC attorney Delner Franklin-Thomas.
August 1, 2011

Hostile Work Environments In Illinois

In Illinois a hostile work environment exists for all employees if the atmosphere is so negatively charged that the employee cannot perform his or her work properly because another employee has been subjected tot sexual harassment or another form of discrimination. Many times employees get caught up in a sexual harassment investigation and as a result of the investigation, something negative happens to them. For example, after truthfully telling their version of events, the employee is then targeted by a manager or perhaps fired. This would be a form of retaliation and in Illinois it is a form of discrimination.

I suggest that all employees contact an employment law attorney if they are involved in a sexual harassment investigation and believe they are being targeted by human resources or management. Remember you have a short time period from the date of the harassment or discrimination to file a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") or the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). My office handles claims at both locations and I offer a free consultation. Make sure you protect your rights.

July 30, 2011

Bank Of West Settles Gender Discrimination Lawsuit For $48,000

Bank of the West pays $48,000 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit was filed in a very short period of time after the filing--just five days. Usually when a company settles quickly, they are acknowledging they were wrong and want to put the matter behind them. It is always nice to see a company take responsibility. The company also saved a good deal in attorney fees by settling the gender discrimination lawsuit early.

According to published accounts Bank of the West refused to hire a woman for the position of branch manager of its Quail Creek branch because of her gender-female. Although the managers with hiring authority acknowledged that she was the best-qualified candidate for the job, they claimed they denied her the job because she stated she needed two weeks before starting to make child care arrangements. You cannot take an adverse action against a person based on gender and in this case that is what happened.

“Over 45 years after the passage of Title VII, discrimination against women in the workplace continues to be a problem,” said EEOC Attorney Barbara Seely. “Corporate America must be more vigilant in guarding against job bias affecting female workers or risk action and exposure by the EEOC.”

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July 29, 2011

Promens USA Inc. Pays $225,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Promens USA, Inc. pays $225,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The EEOC filed the lawsuit on behalf of four women who were sexually harassed. Not only were the women sexually harasse but the company engaged in retaliation once the women rejected their supervisor’s sexual advances. The woman were denied job opportunities open only to male employees.

According to published accounts a Promens USA supervisor repeatedly propositioned temporary female workers. When the women rejected his advances, the supervisor fired them. This pattern of quid pro quo sexual harassment continued until Promens USA fired this supervisor in July 2010 after yet another woman complained of sexual harassment. You can see what happens when a company does not take the complaints seriously. Look how much money this cost the company and they had to fire the supervisor anyway.

“This decree represents a positive outcome for all women employed in manufacturing facilities,” said John Hendrickson, EEOC regional attorney in Chicago
July 21, 2011

Mason County Forest Products Pays $900,000 To Settle A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Mason County Forest Products will pay $900,000 to two female workers to settle a federal lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the female workers after settlement efforts failed . According to published reports, the two women were subjected to widespread hostility, and that upper management at the mill chose to ignore the harassment.

In a really troubling admission upper management allegedly said

“Boys will be boys.”

When upper management makes those types of comments it is easy to see why the people under them feel they can do as they please. The supervisor for the women made it clear that he did not want women on his crew, using demeaning comments, physical intimidation and verbal threats. In a very eye opening and unbelievable admission the lawsuit alleged male employees targeted their female co-workers with lewd comments and gestures, displayed sex toys and pornography. I am glad the women stood up and made the company do the right thing. Good things happen when you fight for your rights.

“I stood up for myself and, ultimately, through this process, for other women,” said Debbie Berntsen, one of the two discrimination victims. “Companies like this need to know that they can’t allow women to be treated this way in any workplace.”
July 20, 2011

Cavalier Telephone Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $1 Million

Cavalier Telephone Company Inc. pays $1 million to settle an age discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of two individuals who complained the company was not hiring people because they were over 40 years of age. Age discrimination violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"). Persons age 40 or older are protected from employment discrimination by the act.

According to published accounts for over seven years, Cavalier Telephone’s mid-Atlantic region had a practice of not hiring applicants age 40 or older for sales account executive positions. In a very troubling practice Cavalier offered its employees a $500 bonus for referral of a “friend’s younger brother and sister.”

“Cavalier Telephone’s hiring practices penalized older applicants simply because of their age and that is illegal,” said EEOC General Counsel P. David Lopez. “I am pleased that we were able to work out a resolution of this suit that provides relief for the victims of discrimination and brings the company’s practices into compliance with the law.”

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July 18, 2011

Sexual Harassment Witnesses

My Chicago offices gets many questions about what can happen to a witness in a sexual harassment or other discrimination case. The good news is an employee who comes forward and speaks truthfully about what he or she saw is protected from retaliation from the company. If any negative job action were to occur against an employee who comes forward, that employee would have a claim of retaliation against he company. That claim could be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

It is very important to speak with an attorney early in the process to determine your rights and to make sure you have the proper protections in place. Don't forget the company has attorneys and human resource personnel to protect their interests. You need to have someone fighting for your rights and interests. If you have a witness to your sexual harassment, I suggest you have the witness contact the same attorney you are utilizing so that the proper protections can be put in place.

July 17, 2011

Richardson Industries Inc. Pays $22,500 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Richardson Industries, Inc., doing business as Richco Structures, settled a retaliation lawsuit for $22,500. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of fired employee Morgan Rae Brocker after supervisors allegedly reported to management that another Richco supervisor had engaged in sexual harassment of Brocker at the company’s Christmas party in December 2005.

You can see how long after an incident a settlement can occur in some cases. The long delays are part of the process and one reason why trying to settle a case early is in the best interest of all parties. In this case there was probably more spent on attorney fees than on the settlement amount. I am seeing a rise in retaliation claims in my Chicago office.

“Retaliation complaints have been the fastest-increasing type of complaint filed with the EEOC over the past 10 years,” said John C. Hendrickson, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office
July 14, 2011

Bell Company Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $230,000

The Bell Company pays $230,000 to settle a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Elaine Cusato. According to published accounts the Bell Company subjected Cusato to a hostile work environment while she was employed as a skilled equipment operator. The EEOC said that Cusato was subjected to daily criticism by her supervisor, the plumbing crew foreman, with a vehemence, aggression and profanity that was not directed at male workers which would be the basis for her gender discrimination lawsuit.

When mechanical foreman Timothy Shultz refused to fire Cusato solely because she was considered a “troublemaker” for complaining about the gender discrimination, both were fired as retaliation. This type of activity is not acceptable and will result in a lawsuit every time. I am glad Mr. Shultz stood up and refused to follow the company line. The company should change the way it does business and the way it treats employees.

“Employers have a responsibility to maintain an environment free of gender-based harassment and retaliation, which are clearly and simply illegal,” said EEOC Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
July 13, 2011

Great Lakes Chemical Corp. Pays $80,000 To Settle Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Great Lakes Chemical Corporation pays $80,000 to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of black employees. According to published reports Great Lakes terminated several black employees because of their race. Specifically, Great Lakes terminated black employees based upon discriminatory and subjective evaluations. Many times in racial discrimination lawsuits statistics are utilized to prove the case.

"The EEOC remains committed to promoting equality of opportunity in the workplace for members of all races. We believe the decree entered by the Court will ensure that African American employees are not singled out for discriminatory treatment,"said EEOC Attorney Faye A. Williams.
July 8, 2011

Verizon Communications Settles ADA Lawsuit For $20 Million

Verizon Communications pays $20 million to settle a nationwide class Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleging the company unlawfully denied reasonable accommodations to hundreds of employees and disciplined and/or fired them pursuant to Verizon’s “no fault” attendance plans.

According to documents filed in the lawsuit Verizon failed to provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, such as making an exception to its attendance plans for individuals whose “chargeable absences” were caused by their disabilities. The company not only didn't make accommodations but disciplined or terminated employees who needed such accommodations. You can see by this large settlement amount how important it is to have good policies in place and to guard against discrimination in the workplace.


EEOC Chair Jacqueline Berrien said “Flexibility on leave can enable a worker with a disability to remain employed and productive -- a win for the worker, the employer and the economy."

July 7, 2011

Terminix Pays $140,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Terminix and its parent company, ServiceMaster, will pay $140,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of two female employees. According to published accounts the females were repeatedly sexually harassed by a supervisor. Because it involves a supervisor there is strict liability on the company.

Apparently other supervisors were aware of the sexual harassment but failed to stop it. The supervisor suggested to the female employees that they not wear tops to work, wear nothing but Vaseline to work and should be strippers so they could give him a lap dance. The company needs to do a better job on training and hiring supervisors.

“Employers have a responsibility to take appropriate action when they learn of sexual harassment in the workplace, to both remedy the harassment that already has occurred and to prevent future harassment,” said EEOC Attorney Mary O’Neill.
July 6, 2011

Target Settles ADA Lawsuit For $160,000

Target Corporation pays $160,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), because Target failed to provide a reasonable accommodation for a cart attendant with cerebral palsy. Published accounts allege Jeremy Schott was a part-time stocker and at one point even won “Target Hero of the Month”. Schott's disabilities require that he be reminded to do certain tasks and that a job coach assist at times with his duties and job-related meetings.

The lawsuit alleged that while Schott succeeded early on with the assistance of a job coach and task reminders, Target later failed to ensure the presence of a job coach during work-related and job performance meetings. By doing this Target insured Schott would fail and this violated the ADA. I am happy that the EEOC held Targets feet to the fire and hopefully after paying this amount they will change their business practices.

“People with disabilities can be productive employees when their needs are heard and met,” said EEOC attorney Anna Park
July 3, 2011

Genesco, Inc. Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Genesco, Inc., doing business as Journeys, settled a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit for $20,000. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of three teenage female workers. According to published accounts Genesco subjected 16 year-old Lauren Torres and two other female workers, aged 16 and 19 at the time, to sexual harassment by an assistant manager. When a manager or other person in a position of power engages in sexual harassment there is strict liability to the company.

It is bad enough that the females were subjected to sexual harassment but Torres was retaliated against after complaining about the harassment when her hours were reduced and she was subjected to retaliatory comments by other Genesco managers. This type of behavior by management is not acceptable and I am glad Torres fought for her rights. My Chicago office is seeing an increase in the number of sexual harassment cases.

"Our nation’s youth deserve every opportunity to work without fear of harassment or retaliation.” said EEOC attorney Mary Jo O'Neill
July 1, 2011

A Dollar General Pays $50,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Dolgencorp, LLC, doing business as Dollar General pays $50,000 to three former female employees to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the three workers after the company would not help them. According to published accounts Amanda Strickland, Maria Strickland and Tina Baxley were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment while employed at Dollar General.

The women were sexually harassed by a male Dollar General store manager which means there is strict liability to the company. The alleged sexual harassment included offensive sexual comments, requests for sex and unwelcome touching of the women’s breasts and buttocks. As is typical in these types of cases, management became aware of the activity and did nothing to stop it. You can see how much money it cost the company when this takes place.

“We are pleased that this settlement provides training to managers and supervisors about Title VII’s requirements against discrimination and harassment,” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes
June 28, 2011

Sexual Harassment and Human Resources

My Chicago offices gets deluged with calls about employees who complain about sexual harassment and report it to human resources. The problem is human resources has its loyalty to the company not the employee. The people at human resources usually try to circle the wagons and keep the employee from filing a formal complaint with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") or the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The time limits for filing a sexual harassment complaint with the EEOC is 300 days and 180 for the IDHR. By stalling an investigation or claiming to be handling the situation, those time limits can pass quickly.

So where does this leave the employee when the time limits pass? Well in short you are out of luck. It is very important to contact my office or another attorney to get advice as soon as you are the victim of sexual harassment. The other problem is sometimes an employee will become the victim of retaliation once they file their sexual harassment complaint. Human Resources may be friendly with the harassing person or may be afraid of the persons position or other contacts in the company. Again, don't rely on human resources if you have been the victim of sexual harassment--contact an attorney.

June 25, 2011

Discrimination Based on Skin Color

My chicago offices gets many inquiries about the difference between racial discrimination and discrimination based on color. Even though there is an overlap between race and color they are not the same. Color discrimination can occur between persons of different races or ethnicities, or between persons of the same race or ethnicity. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") investigate color discrimination. It is interesting to note that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") does not define color but the the courts and the EEOC define color to have its commonly understood meaning – pigmentation, complexion, or skin shade or tone.

In short color discrimination occurs when a person is discriminated against based on the lightness, darkness, or other color characteristic of the person. Title VII prohibits color discrimination against all persons, including Caucasians. Many people don't realize this nuance in the law but it does exist. When the IDHR or EEOC are investigating a claim of color discrimination, they utilize a different standard than the circuit or federal courts. They apply the same standard of proof to all race or color discrimination claims, regardless of the victim’s race or the type of evidence used.

June 24, 2011

Finish Line Settles ADA Lawsuit For $38,000

Finish Line, Inc. settled an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit for $38,000. The ADA lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Emma Armon. According to published accounts Armon had a right shoulder injury and wanted a transfer to an available customer service representative position as a reasonable accommodation to her disability. This would seem to be a very reasonable accommodation and under the law should have been granted especially since Armon was qualified for the open position.

However, Armon was not given the position and instead no accommodation was made for her which violated the ADA which requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities as long as this poses no undue hardship. As a result, the company had to pay money and now has a record of discrimination. This is such a waste, I will never understand why companies just don't do the right thing and follow the law. This type of activity also creates a hostile work environment for all employees because the other employees can see this type of discrimination and it sets a negative tone for the workplace.

“As the statute makes clear, failure to provide a reasonable accomodation for disabilities is in violation of federal law,” said EEOC attorney Laurie Young
June 22, 2011

Fisher, Collins & Carter, Inc. pays $77,000 To Settle ADA Lawsuit

Fisher, Collins & Carter, Inc pays $77,000 to settle a Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Robert Gray and Wayne Seifert. According to published accounts, Fisher, Collins & Carter, Inc. engaged in unlawful disability discrimination when it fired Gray and Seifert shortly after it discovered, through a questionnaire on employees’ health conditions, medical issues and medications, that they both had both diabetes and hypertension. This kind of activity by a company is creepy and illegal.

Both men had been long time employees of the company as Gray worked for 15 years and Seifert had been there for 11 years. Both were very good workers and did not have any performance issues. I really can't believe a company would send around a questionnaire and then fire the employees based on their answers. I am glad the company had to pay money and I hope people realize what type of crazy behavior takes place out there.

“Many people, including Robert Gray and Wayne Seifert, have demonstrated their ability to perform their jobs just fine regardless of diabetes and hypertension,” said EEOC Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
June 21, 2011

LensCrafters Pays $192,500 To Settle A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

LensCrafters pays $192,500 to settle a female-on-male sexual harassment lawsuit. This type of lawsuit is unusual but becoming more common as more females are in leadership positions in companies. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the male employee. According to published accounts LensCrafters subjected a male employee to a sexually hostile work environment while he was at work.

The male lab technician was subjected to sexual harassment and then he complained to management about it and they did nothing to stop the harassment. The sexual harassment included the female employee touching the male and making inappropriate comments about his appearance. The company did not take the complaints seriously because the person was a man. This type of behavior by the company is no acceptable and ended up costing them a good deal of money.

“This is a favorable resolution for everyone,” said EEOC attorney Nedra Campbell. “Sexual harassment is always unjust and illegal, regardless of the gender of the perpetrator or the victim.”
June 20, 2011

Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Claims

In most cases a claim of sexual harassment will be followed by a claim of retaliation because most companies seem to shoot the messenger. A person comes forward with a claim of sexual harassment and human resources usually either doesn't take the claim seriously or then looks into how they can dig up dirt and discipline the person being harassed. It is very important to contact human resources by email so that you have a paper trail of what took place and you can prove you complained.

Remember that you only have 180 days from the last date of sexual harassment to file a claim with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or 300 days with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). If you file with the IDHR they will automatically file with the EEOC. Sometimes a company will drag out its' investigation past the 180 and 300 day time limits in order to prevent the employee from asserting their rights. Make sure you don't allow this to happen.

June 19, 2011

Finish Line, Inc. Pays $38,000 To Settle EEOC Lawsuit

Finish Line, Inc. will pay $38,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Finish Line refused to grant Emma Armon, who has a physical impairment related to a right shoulder injury, a transfer to an available customer service representative position as a reasonable accommodation to her disability.

According to the ADA employers must make reasonably accommodations to employees with disabilities as long as this poses no undue hardship. The ADA has been around for a long time and you would think that companies have it figured out. People with disabilities have a hard enough time and don't need additional problems from employers.

“As the statute makes clear, failure to provide a reasonable accomodation for disabilities is in violation of federal law,” said EEOC attorney Laurie Young.
June 17, 2011

Sonic Drive-In of Los Lunas, Ltd. and B&B Consultants Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $2 Million

Sonic Drive-In of Los Lunas, Ltd. and B&B Consultants settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit for $2 Million. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of women, some of whom were teenagers. According to published accounts, former manager Robert Gomez, subjected a class of women, including teenagers, to sexual harassment, including sexual comments and innuendo as well as unwanted touching. This type of behavior should not happen to such a large group of employees without the knowledge of management.

Allegations included that women who asked Gomez to stop harassing them or complained about their work environment were subjected to retaliation by management. Some employees were also forced to quit their jobs because of the sexual harassment, retaliation, and/or the employer’s failure to provide preventive or remedial relief. When this occurs it is called a constructive discharge. You can see how much money this type of behavior and activity cost the company. I can't believe that companies don't spend more time and money training management. I hope other companies can learn a lesson from this.

“Managers must constantly be reminded of their obligation to maintain workplaces where employees are not subjected to illegal harassment or retaliation,” said EEOC attorney Mary Jo O'Neill.
June 16, 2011

Ricoh Americas Corp. Pays $125,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Ricoh Americas Corporation ("Ricoh") will pay $125,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of three employees. The three employees were James Nyema-Davies, Anibal Melendez and Gustavo Tovar. According to published accounts Ricoh subjected the three to discrimination based on their race and national origin which was black and Columbian and Puerto Rican. The lawsuit further alleged that Ricoh suspended and then fired all three employees for complaining about the harassment-which is retaliation.

The men were subjected to offensive national origin- and race-based harassment, including derogatory comments by the site manager in their location. On a daily or near-daily basis, the site manager made comments to the three employees such as stating that she “hated Puerto Ricans,” that “Hispanics are so stupid,” “Colombians are good for nothing except drugs,” and that “damn, f-----g Africans . . .ain’t worth s--t.”

“Race and national origin harassment include racial or ethnic slurs or other expressions of dislike for different racial and ethnic backgrounds,” said EEOC Attorney Lynette A. Barnes

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June 15, 2011

Norfolk Southern Railway Corporation Pays $60,000 To Settle Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Norfolk Southern Railway Corporation, pays $60,000 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit was filed on behalf for Kathryn Class who was not given the proper training solely based on her gender. According to published accounts Class was not trained like the male counter parts and therefore she was not able to be promoted to a yardmaster position.

Norfolk removed Class from yardmaster training and replaced her with a less qualified male employee, claiming that it removed her from the training based on its policy prohibiting individuals from directly or indirectly supervising, or being supervised by, a relative. Of course this was ridiculous and the basis on the lawsuit. I think the amount paid should be a good indication as to what really took place.

“The EEOC will take action when employers use company policies or practices to deprive women of equal training and employment opportunities,” said EEOC attorney Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.
June 13, 2011

Herzog Roofing Pays $71,500 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

A roofing company, Herzog roofing will pay $71,500 to seven black, Hispanic and American Indian employees to settle racial discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The retaliation lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the workers. According to published accounts, employees were frequently subjected to racial epithets, racial jokes and hostile treatment by other employees at Herzog Roofing.

The discrimination was largely the acts of supervisors. The employees complained but the complaints fell on deaf ears. When this type of activity takes place and is not stopped by management liability attaches. In this case the company ended up paying a pretty good amount of money. In the future I am sure the company will handle things in a different manner.

“Herzog now understands that it is not enough for an employer to have an anti-discrimination policy. The employer must enforce the policy and take preventive and corrective action to effectively fulfill its statutory obligation to maintain a workplace free of discrimination, including harassment.” said EEOC attorney Julie Schmid
June 11, 2011

Illinois Sexual Harassment Cases Have Strict Time Limits For Filing

In Illinois a person must file a charge of discrimination based on sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") within 180 days from the date of the last instance of ongoing sexual harassment. If the person misses the 180 days, she can file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") within 300 days from the last date of the ongoing sexual harassment. Personally I prefer to file with the IDHR because they are mandated to complete an investigation within one year from the date of filing and the EEOC has no such mandate.

I also like the fact that the investigators for the IDHR are active and work to settle cases through mediation or the fact-finding conference process. The IDHR has three locations, Chicago, Springfield and Marion, Illinois. My office handles all three locations and I am very good at obtaining settlements prior to trial. In my opinion it is better to obtain a settlement early in the process for several reasons. First, in the instance of a sexual harassment claim, you can put the horrible incident behind you and move on with your life. Second, you get guaranteed money as opposed to waiting and perhaps having the company file for bankruptcy protection or go out of business.

June 9, 2011

Advance Industrial Fabrications, Inc. Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit For $35,000

Advance Industrial Fabrications, Inc. pays $35,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Elizabeth Courtney. The lawsuit was filed after the parties were unable to reach an initial settlement. According to published accounts Advance Industrial Fabrications discriminated against Courtney by firing her because of her pregnancy.

Courtney worked in the front office and was terminated within a month of disclosing her pregnancy status to the company’s president. The company said that Courtney was terminated due to a medical condition that prevented her from fulfilling the attendance requirement and therefore she was unable to perform her duties. Of course this excuse was ridiculous and the company ended up giving up on it and paying money to settle the discrimination lawsuit. I am glad Courtney hung in there and would not let the company discriminate against her.

“The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of Title VII prohibits employers from singling out pregnancy-related conditions in determining an employee’s ability to work,” said EEOC attorney Robert Dawkins
June 8, 2011

Veterinary Center Pays $101,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

East Hawaii Veterinary Center LLC pays $101,000 to settle a sexual harassment and gender discrimination lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after settlement talks failed. The EEOC filed on behalf of many women who claim they were the victims of sexual harassment. Published accounts claim a co-owner regularly subjected the females to sexually harassming conduct for years.

On a daily basis the co-owner insulted the female employees by making sexual commnets and hostile commets to women. The clinic failed to exercise its duty of reasonable care to prevent and correct the sexually harassing behavior. It became obvious the owners knew what was taking place and did nothing to stop it. The offending co-owner fired at least three of the women and forced others to quit. When someone is forced to quit it is referred to as a constructive discharge.

EEOC attorney Timothy Riera said, “Sexual harassment and gender discrimination remain problems in Hawaii, and it is important to remember the debilitating effects that such misconduct can have on a work environment."
June 7, 2011

True North Inc. Pays $103,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

True North Inc. which operates a shelter for women who have been victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse pays $103,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The retaliation lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of two employees who were punished by True North, Inc. for reporting sexual harassment by the shelter’s executive director. The two women, Gause and Lawson claim Executive Director Leigh Voltmer touched staff members inappropriately on several occasions.

Less than two weeks after making the complaint, Gause was terminated and Lawson was demoted and her salary was cut. Both women had received positive feedback regarding their performance during their tenure as employees, but were terminated without warning, allegedly for poor performance. Following the board’s actions, other employees came forward and complained about a hostile work environment created by Voltmer.

“Nancy Gause and Tracie Lawson came forward at great personal risk to report complaints they had received from the shelter’s staff. Comprehensive Human Services is an organization that purports to shield women from abuse. These women should have been supported in reporting sexual harassment, not punished for doing the right thing." said EEOC attorney Barbara Seely.
June 6, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuits Often Settled

There is a myth out there that most sexual harassment cases go to trial and there is a large verdict. One reason for this myth is the fact that most big cases get publicity and are reported in the various medias. Cases that settle for millions often make the news and give people a false sense of the true value of most sexual harassment cases. The average case does not settle for big money but settling the case is often good for a number of reasons. First, it gives closure to the victim and helps the person get on with her life. Second, it gives a guarantee of some money and lasty it can be taken as a victory-the fact that the other side paid some money. Most sexual harassment cases also involve retaliation and the creation of a hostile work environment.

The danger in taking a sexual harassment or other type of case to trial is that by the time the case goes to trial, the company could be out of business or bankrupt. The reason it takes so long is that if you file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") they cross file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The IDHR has up to one-year to complete its' investigation and that only gives you the right to file directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") if the IDHR finds substanial evidence. It will take another year with the IHRC before the actual trial and a decision by the judge after trial can take another two-years. If the EEOC investigates instead of the IDHR, it can take even longer. So if you can setttle.

June 5, 2011

Hostile Work Environments On The Rise

The number of cases involving the creation of a hostile work environment in Illinois seems to be on the rise. My Chicago office is reporting an increase in the number of hostile work environment cases based on sexual harassment. If you are the victim of such a case my office will file a complaint on your behalf with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and that complaint will be automatically cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). There are many reasons for the increase but the biggest is probably the lack of respect employers seems to convey to their employees.

The economy has been down for so long that employers believe they can do whatever they want to employees and nothing will happen. The employers believe they can easily replace the employee and therefore they falsely believe they are untouchable. I am here to tell you they are not. If you believe you are the victim of a hostile work environment based on sexual harassment or another form of discrimination please contact either of my offices. I hold many companies responsible for their actions and I can help you.

June 4, 2011

Dots Inc. Pays $246,500 To Settle Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Dots, Inc. pays $246,500 to settle a class racial discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of female workers. According to published accounts, Dots denied jobs on a systemic basis to white applicants since at least April 1, 2007. During that time Dots regularly hired black entry-level applicants for sales positions, but excluded white applicants who were equally or better qualified. This is commonly referred to as reverse discrimination.

According to details of the settlement there are 32 class members. That means the 32 women will split the settlement amount. The door swings both way when it comes to racial discrimination. In this case the company was discriminating against white workers and this too is not acceptable. Hopefully after paying this large amount the company will not engage in this type of behavior in the future.

“We hope that this is a wake-up call for Dots and other employers who believe that they are in compliance with the law if they hire minority applicants while excluding white applicants,” said EEOC Attorney Laurie A. Young.
June 3, 2011

U.S. Security Associates Inc. Pays $1.95 Million To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

A large settlement involving U.S. Security Associates Inc. was just announced. According to published accounts, U.S. Security Associates Inc. will pay $1.95 million to seven women after they filed a sexual harassment complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to the complaint a district manager for U.S. Security Associates Inc. was accused of harassing the seven female employees with sexual demands, inappropriate touching and other offensive conduct.

The company seems to be a gluten for punishment. It looks like the company previously lost a federal court verdict over the same manager's actions, and six other women made similar allegations claiming the same man sexually harassed them while working as a supervisor for the company in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. This manager is costing the company a great deal of money. Looks like the company should invest in some good screening, hiring and training practices.

June 2, 2011

Chicago Bar Tilted Kilt Sued For Sexual Harassment

Chicago Tilted Kilt sports bar is being sued for sexual harassment after 10 women came forward and each filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts the women are accusing a manager of making sexually explicit comments, inappropriate physical contact and unwanted advances. This type of behavior if proven will cost the company a great deal of money.

The women also claim that the owners of the bar and the restaurant chain's corporate officials were told of the alleged sexual harrassment and did nothing to stop it. The women also claim the manager loudly discussed pornography with customers and employees. With 10 women filing at the same time this is going to be a real fun case to watch. My guess is the case will settle soon and the manager will not be with the company when the case settles.


June 1, 2011

Longs Drugs a/k/a/ CVS Caremark Settles Gender Discrimination Lawsuit For $55,000

Longs Drugs a/k/a CVS Caremark pays $55,000 to settle a gender discrimination, retaliation and racial discrimination lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Marcia Guaman an African-American female buyer. According to details which have become public, Guaman was treated different from colleagues who were not black or female. As an example given in the lawsuit Guaman received verbal and written warnings for her performance numbers, while white female co-workers with lower scores did not face any disciplinary action.

Additional odd behavior by the company included Guaman’s requests for vacation days being denied, even though she asked prior to white co-workers who were granted vacation for the same dates. Guaman was discharged from her position a few months after she raised the differential treatment to human resources which is the basis of the retaliation charge. Many times it isn't a company policy to discriminate but rather the actions of a manager. This underscores how important it is to properly train employees and members of management.


“Employers should guard against bias creeping in to distort company policies, and training staff is an important preventive measure,” said EEOC Attorney William R. Tamayo.

May 31, 2011

College View Donuts LLC Pays $290,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

College View Donuts, LLC, pays $290,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of teenage female employees. Some of the employees were only 16 or 17 years old. Published accounts allege the manager engaged in unwanted touching and hugging and made lewd sexual comments to the female employees.

College View Donuts allowed the manager's illegal conduct to continue even after two employees had complained. I always see the same pattern of behavior. Employees complain and the company does nothing. The manager was finally fired after the employees reported his conduct to the police and he was arrested. Can you imagion. The company waited until the manager was arrested before they would fire him--remarkable.

“Sexual harassment is never acceptable, but it is especially troubling when the victims are teenagers,” said EEOC Attorney Adela Santos.
May 30, 2011

Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. Pays $55,000 To Settle ADA Lawsuit

Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. ("ACS") pays $55,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit. The disability discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after the company refused to accommodate an employee’s known disabilities and by terminating her assignment to ACS instead. This type of activity by an employer will result in a lawsuit each time. I am glad the worker came forward and had the EEOC file a lawsuit on her behalf.

My chicago office is seeing a rise in all types of discrimination lawsuits not just ADA claims. It is very important that employees contact an employment attorney as soon as they believe they are the victim of discrimination. There are strict time limits involved and an experienced attorney can explain them to you the employee.

“Although we recently celebrated the 20-year anniversary of the ADA, some employers still make the serious mistake of basing job placement decisions on a person’s disabilities,” said EEOC Attorney Laurie Young.
May 29, 2011

Retaliation Lawsuits On The Rise

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") released its' figures for 2010 and the number of retaliation claims is on the rise. It should be no suprise that employers have been treating employees in such a horrible fashion. The economy is down and it is a cut-throat atmosphere out there. According to the EEOC retaliaion claims accounted for 36% of all discrimination charges filed--99,922 total charges were filed. What this shows is that employees are complaining about discriminatory behavior in the workplace and they are being singled out and treated unfairly for complaining.

My Chicago office is not only seeing an increase in retaliation claims but also an increase in sexual harassment claims. Many times they go hand-in-hand. The employee will complain about sexual harassment and then a negative job action will take place against the employee who complained. The United States Supreme Court expanded retaliation claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include third parties. In Thompson v. North American Stainless LLP, the court held that the boyfriend of a female can claim retaliation if he is targeted because his girlfriend files a claim of sexual harassment.

May 28, 2011

ACT Teleconferencing Services Settles ADA Claim For $40,000

ACT Teleconferencing Services pays $40,000 to settle an American's With Disabilities Act ("ADA") discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") because the company refused to extend the leave of a disabled employee for one month and then fired her. Paige Sprince, a longtime employee who had been seriously injured in an automobile accident on her way to work in asked for an extention of her leave of absence for one month. I mean the woman isn't trying to milk the system she is a good employee and just needs more time to recover. Incredibly, the company terminated Sprince right after she had received clearance from her doctor to return to work in one month.

This type of activity violates the Americans With Disabilities Act, which requires employers to attempt to make reasonable accommodations for employees’ disabilities as long as this poses no undue hardship. I am happy to see Sprince hang in there and not let the company push her around. After paying this settlement hopefully, the company will straighten itself out and not behave like this in the future. My chicago office is seeing more cases of employment discrimination and it is important that employees speak up and protect their rights.

“Leaves of absence are often appropriate accommodations and opportunities to fulfill the ADA’s requirements,” said EEOC attorney Markus L. Penzel
May 27, 2011

Monterey Gourmet Foods Pays $535,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Monterey Gourmet Foods, Inc., pays $535,000 to four Latino workers to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the employees. According to details which became public, three women and one man employed as packers in the lasagna, tamale and ravioli production units suffered sexual harassment by the same male supervisor. The sexual harassment included sexual comments, texting obscene pictures, and unwanted physical touching.

Here is the part that really got the company in trouble. The employees reported the sexual harassment to management and the human resources department but nothing happened. And to make matters worse just weeks after two workers filed discrimination charges with the EEOC, all four workers were discharged or laid off in retaliation. I bet after paying out this kind of money the company will not act like this in the future. I see this all the time in my Chicago office where human resources shoots the messenger.

“You should not have to choose between your personal dignity and making a living,” said the male worker, who is in his 80s. “It is good to know that the law protects workers from that kind of treatment, no matter whether you are male or female, young or old."
May 26, 2011

Chrysler Group Pays $60,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Chrysler Group, LLC pays $60,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Chrysler’s second-shift supervisor at the Milwaukee facility removed one of the women from the coveted position of driving a power sweeper and assigned her to gather parts in the back order release area. A male with less seniority was placed in the position which would go against normal policy. The female questioned why this was taking place as it seemed to be a form of gender discrimination. The manager called the female a troublemaker and threatened to fire her--which is retaliation.

Retaliation for opposing gender discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The female worker stuck up for her rights and would not let the company push her around. You can tell by the settlement amount that the company realized it made a mistake and wanted to put this matter behind it. This type of activity also creates a hostile work environment for all workers and can hinder production. Hopefully better processes and training will be in place for the future and employees can have a discrimination free work place.

said EEOC attorney John Hendrickson “Any adverse job action that might deter an employee from pursuing his or her rights is unlawful. Title VII protects employees who oppose discrimination even when their complaints do not take the form of an EEOC charge or written grievance."
May 21, 2011

ACCLAIM Charter School Pays $41,125 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

ACCLAIM Charter School pays $41,125 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of two female employees. According to published accounts Rafael Andaverde, the husband of the owner and director of ACCLAIM sexually harassed two female school employees. Andaverde’s continued to sexually harass the workers even after complaints about it were made to the administration.

This type of behavior is not acceptable and will result in a sexual harassment lawsuit every time. I am glad these two females contacted the EEOC and filed a complaint. The EEOC will monitor the school and ensure this type of behavior does not happen again. Hopefully the man that was doing the sexual harassment has been fired and they no longer have to worry about it happening again. My Chicago office is seeing an increase in sexual harassment cases. If you believe you have been subjected to sexual harassment contact my office at once.

“Employees have an absolute right to be free from sexual harassment in the workplace,” said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill.
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May 20, 2011

Anthem College Pays $260,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

High-Tech Institute, Inc., doing business as Anthem College Online, pays $260,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and alleged Anthem College subjected female employees to repeated sexual harassment by supervisors. According to published accounts three male supervisors sexually harassed six female admissions representatives. The sexual harassment included touching and unannounced visits to the homes of the females.

According to the lawsuit Anthem College knew or should have known about and tolerated this sexually hostile work environment caused by its supervisors. One of the men that was doing the sexual harssment would socialize with upper management and the females were hesitant to come forward at first for that reason. At the end of the day, the College did not do anything to stop the sexual harassment and for that reason the settlement amount was large.

“Employees who have an official or strong duty to communicate to management are considered part of management,” said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill
May 18, 2011

The Steakhouse at Desert Canyon Sued For Retaliation

The Steakhouse at Desert Canyon and Desert Canyon Golf Club is being sued by ex-manager White for retaliation after complaining about the head chef. The complaint was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts several female employees felt they had been sexually harassed by the head chef. White who was the manager was then fired by upper management after he brought the sexual harassment complaint to their attention.

Golf International offered to rehire him but conditioned this offer upon his withdrawal of the EEOC charge. But White would not budge to their demands and instead went forward with his EEOC complaint. White insisted on pursuing the EEOC charge, and Golf International refused to rehire him. In a really wacky move Golf International later rehired White, but terminated him again several weeks later.

“It is particularly important for the EEOC to vigorously enforce the anti-retaliation provisions in our employment discrimination laws,” said EEOC attorney Mary Jo O’Neill
May 17, 2011

Fisher Sand & Gravel Co. Pays $150,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Fisher Sand and Gravel Company pays $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts, Fisher Sand & Gravel Co. subjected two women workers to egregious verbal sexual harassment by a supervisor and then fired one of them after she repeatedly asked the supervisor to stop harassing her and complained to a job superintendent. When an employee is terminated because of complaining of sexual harassment it is referred to as retaliation.

"Women who work in traditionally male-dominated professions or workplaces can be particularly susceptible to sexual harassment,” said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill
May 16, 2011

Dillard's Pays $50,000 To Settle Age Discrimination Lawsuit

Dillard’s, Inc. pays $50,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of 61 year old manager Virginia Keene. According to published reports about the lawsuit, Keene was fired from her position as an area sales manager and replaced with a 24-year-old employee who only had four months of experience as an area sales manager. This is unusual and would indicate that age is playing a factor in the employment decision. Keene successfully worked as an area sales manager for over four years and right before she was fired had ranked second out of six area sales managers.

To make matters worse for the company Keene received positive reviews in her two most recent performance appraisals and had twice been recommended for promotion. When you hear this kind of evidence it makes it obvious that the company was engaging in age discrimination. Throughout the course of her employment with Dillard’s, Keene’s managers made repeated references to her age, telling her she was too old for a sales job and that it might be time for her to let the younger managers take over. I am glad Keene hung in there and made the company pay her for the discrimination. This type of activity also creates a hostile work environment for all employees.

“Older workers have experience and skills that are too often overlooked,” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes
May 15, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuits On The Rise

Well the results are in. The number of sexual harassment lawsuits filed by my office in 2011 has increased over 2010. Other attorneys I talk with are seeing an increase as well. Of course if you file a complaint of sexual harassment in Illinois, you can file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and that agency will cross-file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). I find that the IDHR does a good job of investigating the claim of sexual harassment and also of helping with settlement talks.

Along with claims of sexual harassment I also see a number of retaliation claims. What happens is an employee complains to management about sexual harassment and is then fired or had another type of negative job action take against him. Usually this type of action is very transparent. The employee is a good worker, complains and is then fired. It looks so obvious. My Chicago office is seeing a real increase in the number of retaliation claims.

May 13, 2011

Hyundai Ideal Electric Company Pays $188,000 To Settle Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Hyundai Ideal Electric Company ("HIEC") coughs up $188,000 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a female drafter, Tabitha Wagner. According to accounts which have been made public, Wagner was an experienced drafter and was hired for a job preparing drawings and sketches for batteries and engines. The problem was she was being paid a lower salary than that of a similarly situated male who was hired only months later. Wagner did what most would consider the right thing. She brought the disparity to the attention of the human resources manager, and was subsequently fired as retaliation for complaining.

This type of activity is so tranparent and isn't fooling anyone. It amazes me that companies still behavior like this. Why didn't they just bring her pay in line with her male counterpart? I am glad she stuck up for herself and filed a complaint with the EEOC. In Illinois you can also file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and that organization will cross file with the EEOC.

“The EEOC will not tolerate discriminatory pay practices,” said Debra Lawrence, EEOC attorney.
May 12, 2011

White Woman Wins Reverse Discrimination Lawsuit Gets $246,500

A Merrillville Dots store will pay $246,500 to one-time potential employees in order to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit. This is a unique lawsuit because it involves white applications who claim they were not hired because they are whlte--reverse discrimination. In addition to paying a substanial amount of money, the store will change its hiring practices. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and the settlement came prior to trial.

According to published accounts a Merrillville Dots staffer denied a woman and other white applicants employment. The denial was based soley on the color of their skin--white. This type of case is unusual but it shows that discrimination works both ways. The store had to pay a substanial amount of money and I am sure they won't make this mistake again. I am glad the women hung in there and contacted the EEOC to protect their rights. My chicago office handles these types of cases and I am seeing an increase in discrimination cases.

The applicant was told by a store manager that the store "doesn't hire white people."


May 11, 2011

Fisher Nut Company Pays $150,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Fisher Nut Company pays $150,000 to seven Latina employees to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the workers after the EEOC tried to settle the case. Workers were given crazy warnings about things that normal employees are not subjected to. For exampline in one instance a worker was warned for laughing during the course of the work day. All but one of the workers were moved from various other jobs to the entry-level almond-sorting position, widely considered the least desirable work at the plant.

According to published accounts the Latina employees faced verbal threats and irrational warnings from their immediate supervisors when all of them complainted of discrimination. Ultimately, all the women were fired within two months of the informal meeting. This type of conduct is not acceptable and I am glad the EEOC made the company pay.

“Because these workers were vulnerable to retaliation that might be disguised by the seasonal nature of their jobs, it was a priority to pursue this case,” said EEOC Attorney William R. Tamayo.
May 10, 2011

Dave's Supermarket Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $300,000

Dave’s Supermarket pays $300,000 to four women to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the four women and the allegations were substantial. The lawsuit claims former meat department manager Jugoslav Vidic made repeated and unwanted sexual advances to female employees. The lawsuit further claims that upper management was well aware of Vidic's behavior and refused to stop it.

Details of the sexual harassment included Vidic allegedly exposing himself to a newly hired female employee. When the woman complained to upper management, nothing was done to stop it and there wasn't even an investigation into the incident. Finally Dave’s Supermarket fired Vidic after another female employee complained of sexual harassment. I bet Dave's wishes it had taken the complaints of sexual harassment more serious now that they paid a substantial amount of money. This type of case occurs too often and it should serve as a warning to other companies that conduct like this will cost a great deal in money and negative public perception.

“The decree here sends the same signal to employers that the EEOC has been sending for some time: sexual harassment is prohibited and the EEOC will move swiftly to stop it,” said EEOC Attorney Debra Lawrence.
May 9, 2011

Chicago Area Hilton Pays $195,000 To Settle National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit

The Hilton Lisle/Naperville ("Hilton") is paying $195,000 to settle a national origin discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Hispanic employees. According to published accounts Hispanic employees in the hotel kitchen were subjected to offensive comments. Specifically, the hotel’s executive chef regularly referred to Hispanic employees as “s--cs” and “wetbacks.”

It is hard to believe a person in the position of executive chef would make such offensive comments to fellow co-workers. What is even more disturbing is that management did not take any action against the chef at the time. One would think that a brand like Hilton would have a better policy and procedure in place. The EEOC was able to get a nice settlement on behalf of the Hispanic workers and hopefully this type of activity will not happen in the future.

EEOC attorney Aaron DeCamp added, “Over the next three years, EEOC will keep a close eye on how the Hilton Lisle/Naperville implements the consent decree to make certain these issues do not recur.”
May 8, 2011

Proposed Changes To Illinois Human Rights Act

My Chicago office files many complaints of discrimination and sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The process for filing with the IDHR is governed by the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act"). Currently the Illinois Assembly is taking a look at updating the Act by proposing two significant changes to the Act. Under the current procedure, a company has 60 days to file a verified response with the IDHR. The new proposal would cut that time down to 30 days. Second, the new proposal would eliminate the fact-finding conference.

I have no problem with the 30 day proposal but do not agree with cutting the fact-finding conference. At the fact-finding conference both sides have an opportunty to get a look at the other sides evidence and person presenting the evidence. In my opinion this increases the chance of settlement and also allows the employee to see what they are up against. For this reason I am opposed to the change and hope the assembly does not approve it. Discrimination cases affected include retaliation and discrimination that creates a hostile work environment.

Continue reading "Proposed Changes To Illinois Human Rights Act" »

May 6, 2011

Chubb & Son Pays $110,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Chubb & Son is paying $110,000 to settle a retaliation and racial discrimination lawsuit that was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Kong Chee Vang. According to published accounts by the EEOC, Vang was a Hmong tribsman and employee of Chubb and was refused a promotion because of her Asian race--which is racial discrimination.

Additionally Chubb failed to stop its managers from using stereotypes and negative assumptions based on race while considering Vang for a promotion to underwriter. The company then engaged in retaliation after she filed a complaint with the EEOC by not promoting her on a second attempt. This type of behavior will not be tolerated and will result in cash settlements every time. I am glad Vang did not take this sitting down and instead went to the EEOC and filed a lawsuit.

"Managers who may think they are ‘just standing up’ for their companies when they retaliate against complainants are, in fact, just doing more damage.” said EEOC John Hendrickson
May 4, 2011

Retaliation Lawsuit With Eclipse Advantage Settles For $60,000

Eclipse Advantage, Inc. pays $60,000 to settle a racial discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Rodney Williams. According to published accounts, African-American employee Williams endured racial discrimination and when he reported it, the company engaged in retaliation. Williams began working in a supervisory position with the company and shortly thereafter was subjected to racial epithets from his superiors.

In a remarkable event, on his first day, Williams was asked if he was a “black man or a n----r.” The lawsuit alleged management frequently used racial slurs, most notably the N-word in the workplace. And Williams was demoted from supervisor to team lead and then discharged from his position as a team lead after complaining about a hostile work environment. This type of behavior is unacceptable and as you can see it will cost the company money and bad publicity every time.

“ The settlement not only provides monetary compensation for the discrimination victim, it also provides significant injunctive relief to prevent and eliminate further harassment and retaliation.” said EEOC Attorney Debra Lawrence
May 3, 2011

Delta Family Health and Fitness Pays $87,500 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Delta Family Health and Fitness for Children pays $87,500 to settle a lawsuit for retaliation. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after Delta fired four employees. The four employees were an employee who complained about sexual harassment, an identified witness to the discrimination, and two other employees who had filed charges with the EEOC. It is hard to believe all four employees suddenly became bad employees and warrented being terminated.

Usually companies are a little more subtle but in this case an employee complained about sexual harassment and named a co-worker as a witness to the harassment. Both employees were terminated on three days later. That is a pretty short period of time to fire two employee given what they are complaining about and witnessing. Two other employees filed charges of discrimination with the EEOC and they were fired. I am glad the EEOC was able to get to the bottom of things and hold the company responsible.

“This case demonstrates the EEOC’s commitment to aggressively pursue remedies for retaliation victims.” said EEOC Attorney Faye A. Williams
May 1, 2011

Warehouse Company DB Schenker Sued For Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment

Angela McDonald and nine other warehouse workers filed a lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") against DB Schenker alleging sexual harassment, the creatiion of a hostile work environment and racial discrimination. The problems include co-workers flying Confederate flags, KKK scrawled in the bathrooms and swastikas drawn on the coffee machine and walls. McDonald complained to management but nothing was done to take down the offensive material or to put a stop to it.

The warehouse is located in Joliet Illinois and there is an increase in Illinois in the number of discrimination claims filed with the EEOC and the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The sexual harassment included one woman being chased around the warehouse by a male co-worker who was trying to have sex with her. Not only was the male not disciplined but he was promoted into another job. This is the type of behavior by management that makes people file charges of discrimination. This blog will follow the lawsuit and report as information becomes available.

“When I’m leaving at one in the morning, there is no security and I know there are people who are hateful and prejudiced in the building,” McDonald said. “I’m afraid of someone hurting me.”

Continue reading "Warehouse Company DB Schenker Sued For Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment" »

April 30, 2011

Timken Company Pays $120,000 To Settle Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

The Timken Company pays $120,000 to settle a gender discrimination and americans with disability act ("ADA") discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of part-time employee Carmen Halloran. According to published accounts the company refused to hire Halloran full-time because managers believed that Halloran, who is the mother of a disabled child, would be unable to work full time and care for her disabled child.

The problem with that logic is Timken employed men who were the fathers of disabled children. It is remarkable that a company would treat an employee this way. Timken failed to hire Halloran into the full-time position based on an unfounded gender stereotype that the mother of a disabled child would necessarily be the primary caregiver for the child and therefore would not be a reliable employee.

“Employers must be careful not to apply stereotypes against women based on perceptions that they must always be the primary caregivers and therefore are unreliable employees.” said EEOC attorney Lynette Barnes
April 27, 2011

StoneRidge Health and Rehab Center, LLC Pays $22,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

StoneRidge Health and Rehab Center, LLC, pays $22,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a female supervisor. According to published accounts the supervisor filed a complaint of racial discrimination with the company and was fired days later. When a good employee is fired within a short period of time after complaining about discrimination there is always a retaliation charge to follow.

In this case such a short period of time lapsed that it gives the impression that she was only fired because she complained to the company about a racial issue. It is very important to document was is going on at work and to file a complaint internally if you believe you are the victim of discrimination. I am glad the EEOC got involved and this woman would not let the company push her around.

“The number of retaliation lawsuits has risen across the country and within the Memphis District,” said EEOC Attorney Faye A. Williams “People have a right to complain about discrimination in the workplace, and the EEOC is committed to aggressively combating retaliation for it.”
April 25, 2011

Morgan & Morgan Law Firm Sued For Sexual Harassment

Michelle Burman a former employee of the Morgan & Morgan law firm filed a sexual harassment lawsuit in federal court against the firm. Burman filed her claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and then received a right to sue letter. Burman claims she was exposed to sexual comments, sexual jokes, and sexual stories while working for the firm as a client service intake specialist. Burman claims her supervisor was the source of the sexual harassment. Burman also claims her supervisor was often intoxicated and that female employees had to provide sexual favors in order to get ahead at the firm.

Burman alleges when she rebuffed her supervisor's advances he became more and more hostile toward her and he treated her differently from co-workers. If her claims turned out to be true, Burman would have been subjected to a hostile work environment. Burman also alleges that the firm's Human Resources department did not properly investigate claims. The firm is disputing both her claim and that fact that the Human Resources department did not investigate. One of the founders Mr. Morgan said there was a large file regarding Burman and her complaint.

"That's a lie," said Morgan. "The HR department conducted a full investigation. There's a large file."
April 24, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Settles For $79,000

Prestige Home Centers, Inc. pays $79,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of several man. According to published accounts male employees were subjected to sexual harassment from a male supervisor. The sexual harassment included touching, requests for sexual favors and sexual comments.

When the men complained about the sexual harassment the supervisor retaliated. This type of behavior also creates a hostile work environment for all the workers and could lead to additional complaints. In this case, the men would not take the abuse from the supervisor any longer and filed directly with the EEOC. I am glad to see the case resolved in a favorable manner.

“Employees should not be subjected to this type of harassing behavior in the modern workplace,” “Employers must act swiftly to correct hostile work environments and prevent employee exposure to such outrageous conduct and retaliation.”said EEOC Attorney Robert Weisberg.
April 23, 2011

Ralph Jones Sheet Metal Settles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit For $160,000

Ralph Jones Sheet Metal, Inc. pays $160,000 to former African-American employees to settle a racial harassment lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on their behalf. According to published accounts a white supervisor and other employees subjected African-American employees to racially offensive comments. The comments included the use of the N word and other such slurs.

This type of activity creates a hostile work environment for all employees. I am glad these employees decided to contact the EEOC and not let this supervisor get away with what he was doing. I know most people don't think this type of activity still takes place but it does. As you can see by the amount the company had to pay to settle this lawsuit, having a mouthy employee can cost a good deal of money.

“Employees should not have to endure a racially hostile work environment as it is a violation of federal law.” said EEOC attorney Faye Williams
April 22, 2011

Four Latino Workers Receive $150,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Willamette Tree Wholesalers must pay $150,000 to four Latino farm workers to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the four workers. There were further allegations of retaliation because one of the workers was fired along with her husband. In a very rare case, the Judge said that the four were subjected to sexual harassment so extreme that the judge agreed to extend a 300-day statute of limitations to allow the complaint to go forward. Normally, you have 300 days from the date of sexual harassment to file a complaint with the EEOC.

There are other shocking details including allegations that one of the sisters was taken to remote areas of the farm by a supervisor, who allegedly threatened her with pruning shears, termination and bodily harm and then sexually assaulted her repeatedly over a period of several months. The woman would not give in to the sexual demands and was fired. Here is a great article on 20 Ways to lesson your chances of sexual assult.

April 21, 2011

Car Dealership Settles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit For $300,000

Auto dealer Ganley Lincoln of Bedford, Inc. pays $300,000 to four African-Americans to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on their behalf. According to published details of the lawsuit, Jay Walsh, Ganley’s general manager routinely used derogatory terms to refer to blacks, including the epithet “n----r.”

In a shocking statement Walsh said about an older African-American employee,that he wished the old n----r ... would hurry up and die. To make matters worse Walsh utilized a compensation system that disadvantaged black salespeople with regard to sales opportunities and commissions. This type of activity ended up costing the company a great deal of money and probably some good employees. Walsh is no longer employed there--big suprise.

“Racial harassment is utterly unacceptable and illegal,” said EEOC Attorney Debra Lawrence. “It demeans the entire workplace as well as the direct victims."
April 16, 2011

Charlene Miles Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit With EEOC

Charlene Miles, who is a former county worker filed a sexual harassment lawsuit alleging former county commissioner David Ridley forced her to have oral sex, constantly subjected her to sexual harassment and viewed pornography on her office computer. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on Miles behalf. Ridley resigned from his position shortly after news of the allegations became public.

According to published accounts Miles said that Ridley continuously made sexual advances and remarks to her for more than a year. In probably the most outragous claim Miles said Ridley forced her to give him oral sex at her trailer. Other forms of sexual harassment included Ridley removing his penis from his pants and taking his hand and reaching up her skirt. This type of behavior also created a hostile work environment for Miles.

April 15, 2011

Sam's Club Settles Hostile Work Environment and National Origin Lawsuit For $440,000

Sam’s Club pays $440,000 to settle a national origin harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of nine employees. The employees of Mexican descent endured ethnic slurs and derogatory remarks by a fellow co-worker who is Mexican-American. The nine victims complained about the hostile work environment to management but nothing was done to stop it. In fact the harassment only intensified and led to intimidation.

The comments about the Mexican's included being called wetbacks and references to Mexicans only being good for cleaning the harasser’s home. The person that was making the comments even threatened to report three of the victims to immigration authorities despite their legal status. The person doing the harassing was finally fired by Sam's Club but only after the EEOC filed the lawsuit.

“A work environment that is free of harassment ensures a more productive and vibrant workplace for all.” said EEOC attorney Anna Park
April 13, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Facts

Sexual harassment seems to be a growing problem for employees. It ends up being a double whamy. First, they are exposed to the sexual harassment and then usually to retaliation for reporting the sexual harassment. Unfortunately, many companies don't seem to spend the time properly training their human resource staff on how best to handle a sexual harassment complaint. I see many employees in my office who have been the victim of conduct that rises to the level of sexual harassment and then they report the conduct to human resources, only to be terminated. There seems to be a sense that if you rock the boat in a company, you get thrown off.

It is very important for employees to seek the advice of an experienced sexual harassment and employment law attorney once they first encounter a problem. The employee must realize that human resources is concerned with the best interest of the company and not necessarily the best interest of the employee. There are strict time limits in place for filing a complaint of discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). For sexual harassment the complaint must be filed with the IDHR within 180 days and for the EEOC 300 days. Don't let the companies human resource department drag out an investigation and make you miss those filing dates.

April 10, 2011

Illinois Firm Pays $8 Million To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

International Profit Associates ("IPA") which operates as a business-development firm will pay $8 million to 82 female employees as part a settlement in a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the female workers. This case has been ongoing for ten years and is a good illustration of how long it can take a case filed with the EEOC to reach settlement.

The EEOC claims the company filed motions intentionally to stall the case and drag it out. Sometimes companies take a strategic position that it is better to drag cases out and wear down their opponents. In this case the EEOC hung tough and the workers stuck around and will receive a nice payday. When this type of activity takes place in the workplace, it also creates a hostile work environment for all workers. IPA is located in Buffalo Grove Illinois and according to its' website has over 1500 full-time workers.

“The decree and the fact that sizable checks are going out to the victims of IPA’s discrimination are signal achievements,”said EEOC attorney Diane Smason and she added “It’s going to be a better day for all the women covered by the decree.”
April 9, 2011

Age Discrimination Lawsuit Settles For $467,165

The Minnesota Department of Human Services ("MDHS") pays $467,165 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of 29 workers. According to published accounts the 29 workers were denied employer contributions for retiree health and dental insurance because they were older than age 55 at the time that they retired. Once a person reaches the age of 40 they become a member of a protect class due to age.

If older workers are treated in a different manner, it may become age discrimination, like it did in this case. You can see how expensive this type of behavior is for a company or in this case state agency. Like the state didn't have anything better to do with taxpayer dollars. In the future I am sure a new plan will be formulated that is not discriminatory in nature.

“The EEOC litigated and won on the issue of the illegality of this incentive plan.” said EEOC attorneyJohn Hendrickson.

Continue reading "Age Discrimination Lawsuit Settles For $467,165" »

April 8, 2011

Adam Brothers Farms Pays $27,500 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

It seems like the workers who need the most protection are facing the most difficult working conditions. A recent case involving a vegetable packer illustrates the point. What makes this case even worse is the fact that the female who was the victim of sexual harassment was a teenager. Adam Brothers Farming, Inc. agreed to pay $27,500 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the teenage worker.

According to published accounts a male supervisor began sexually harassing the teen by asking the teenager to perform oral sex, touching her body, brushing his body against her backside, and making lewd gestures. The teenager reported the conduct that was taking place and the sexual harassment to a foreman in an attempt to have it stopped. But in an amazing series of events she was transferred and disciplined, then fired within two weeks of her complaint. This forms the basis of her retaliation claim. It is really shocking that the company acted this way.

“Our nation’s youngest workers can be particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment, particularly in the agricultural industry.” said EEOC attorney Anna Park

Continue reading "Adam Brothers Farms Pays $27,500 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit" »

April 7, 2011

Trucking Company Pays $32,500 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Family owned trucking company Howard Sheppard, Inc. pays $32,500 to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Sarah Waller. The lawsuit alleged Sheppard fired truck driver Waller in retaliation for making a complaint about sexual harassment. If an employee complains about discriminatory conduct and then has a negative job action taken against him or her, it is considered retaliation. In this case the complaint of sexual harassment was the discriminatory conduct and therefore being fired was retaliation.

Sheppard denied any liability or wrongdoing in the lawsuit however, they are paying $32,500 to settle the case. It still amazes me how many companies fire employees who complain about discrimination in the workplace. How hard would it have been to just investigate the sexual harassment complaint and take the appropriate action? Hopefully Sheppard learned a lesson and will do things different in the future.

“By coming forward with her discrimination charge, Ms. Waller’s efforts will go a long way towards preventing future mistreatment of female truck drivers.” said EEOC attorney Robert Dawkins
April 6, 2011

Software Support Company Settles National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit For $60,000

Integrated Broadband Services pays $60,000 to settle a national origin discrimination and racial discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a black female Tanzanian network analyst who was fired for leaving work 30 minutes early. To show discrimination the EEOC pointed out that a similarly situated white network analyst received only written discipline after leaving work two hours early and the white worker did it twice in one week.

Many times national origin discrimination can also include discrimination based on ancestry or citizenship status. Both of those categories go unreported many times but they are viable forms of discrimination. Along with the settlement amount the company agreed to terms that include additional training on discrimination and posting anti-discrimination notices.

“The EEOC filed this lawsuit because the difference in treatment between these employees was clear, and a woman lost her livelihood due to this discrimination,” said EEOC attorney Robert Dawkins
April 4, 2011

Murphy Healthcare III, LLC Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit For $30,000

There has been a rise in the number of pregnancy discrimination lawsuits my office is seeing. It seems like I am getting calls every day about women having adverse job actions taken against them at work once it becomes known they are pregnant. Here is a recent case that I wasn't involved with but it is interesting and illustrates my point. Murphy Healthcare III, LLC. agreed to pay $30,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Myesha Kerr.

Published accounts indicate that Kerr was fired after her supervisor learned that she was pregnant. Kerr worked as a housekeeper for the company and during discovery in the case the supervisor said he never would have hired Kerr had he known of her pregnancy, because he believed Kerr might injure herself by working. Sorry to break the news to you Mr. Supervisor but that is illegal and will cost the company you work for money every time you do it.

"The result of the employer’s actions in this case was to deprive a working mother of an income.” said EEOC atttorney Meaghan Shepard


Continue reading "Murphy Healthcare III, LLC Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit For $30,000" »

April 3, 2011

Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit Settled For $25,000

The city of Attleboro paid $25,000 to settle a hostile work environment and racial discrimination lawsuit with Vincent Bailey, an African-American firefighter. Because of the allegations against the city and specifically against the supervising officer, Bailey will not have to report to him in the future. The Sun Chronicle reports there is a gag order in affect and neither side is commenting, however a freedom of information request did get some information. The case was filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination ("MCAD") which is similar to the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"), and the federal counterpart the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

According to reports in the Sun Chronicle, allegations include supervisor Perkins making racially based derogatory comments, such as:

"Vinny, while you're here, why don't you shine my shoes?"

These types of comments are not acceptable in the workplace and I am glad to see Mr. Bailey hold the city accountable. There were also five witnesses to the comments so it wasn't just a case of one person's word against anothers. This type of behavior not only makes work difficult for the person who is the target of the comments but it creates a hostile work environment for the other employees. You can imagine how uncomfortable it makes everyone at work.

April 2, 2011

College Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $20,000

Arkansas Baptist College ("ABC") pays $20,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Mary Jarrett. According to details which have become public, Jarrett was retaliated against because she previously filed a discrimination claim against the college and the college canceled her contract based on the former complaint. Her previous discrimination complaint involved age discrimination and gender discrimination among others.

My chicago office is seeing an increase in the number of college and university related claims of discrimination. I don't know if it is the arrogance of college administrators or the fact that the job market is so tight right now that people think they can engage in discrimination against workers. I am glad to see Mary Jarrett stick to her guns and not let the college push her around. There are protections available to people who file discrimination charges and hopefully the college learned a lesson on how to treat employees.

“It is plainly illegal to fire an employee for engaging in her statutorily protected right of filing a charge with the EEOC, and we are pleased that the parties were able to resolve this matter.” said EEOC attorney Faye A. Williams

Continue reading "College Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $20,000" »

April 1, 2011

Jury Awards $451,000 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Kerrry Woods is a happy man today because a jury awarded him $451,000 for his sexual harassment lawsuit against Boh Bros. Construction Co. The iron worker first filed his complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to documents and statements produced during the lawsuit the superintendent flashed him and routinely taunted him about seeming feminine. Most of the time sexual harassment lawsuits involve male-female or female-male harassment, but in this instance the sexual harassment was male-on-male.

Woods first filed an internal sexual harassment and hostile work environment complaint with the company. The company did not take the complaint seriously and after receiving his complaint, the company engaged in retaliation according to Woods. He claims the company transferred him to its another facility where he earned less and had a longer commute. The company laid him off a short time later. As is typical in these types of cases the company said they laid Woods off for business reasons--but the jury wasn't buying it.

Woods said "I knew it wasn't right that the company should be able to treat people this way," "No one should have to put up with that kind of abuse day after day."
March 31, 2011

South Basin Packing Pays $80,000 To Settle ADA Discrimination Lawsuit

South Basin Packing will pay $80,000 to settle an Americans With Disabiliy Act ("ADA") discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts South Basin fired a worker immediately after he informed the company of his recent diagnosis for a chronic medical condition. This is a violation of the ADA because employers by law are required to make reasonable accommodations for an employee disability.

In Illinois my office is seeing an increase in the number of ADA claims filed by employees. Of course I am seeing an increase in all types of employment discrimination lawsuits. It seems that employers are forgetting about how to properly treat employees and they are disregarding the law. There could also be a claim for retaliation if the employee is terminated for complaining about an ADA related issue.

EEOC atorney William R. Tamayo said, “This settlement should emphasize to employers that hiring and firing decisions must be based on facts -- whether or not an applicant or employee has the ability to do the job -- and not fears concerning disability.”
March 30, 2011

Tandy Brands Pays $95,000 To Settle Age Discrimination Lawsuit

Tandy Brands ("Tandy") pay $95,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed in federal court by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Merta Withrow. According to published reports regarding the case, Tandy violated federal law by terminating Merta Withrow, a 62-year-old manager, because of her age. The company claimed the termination was part of a reduction-in-force but the company kept a lesser qualified and substantially younger manager.

However, during the discovery phase of the lawsuit the EEOC determined that within four months Tandy terminated another five supervisors, whose ages ranged from 75 to 58. If you are over the age of 40 you are protected by federal law regarding discrimination based on your age. The theory the EEOC alleged was that Tandy wanted a younger image and that is why they began to terminate older workers. This settlement should signal to Tandy that they can't behave this way.

EEOC Attorney Jim Sacher said “Making employment decisions based on one’s age is unlawful, and there is no excuse for such a practice in the 21 st century.”
March 29, 2011

International Profit Associates Pays $8 Million To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

International Profit Associates pays $8 million to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit that involves 82 female employees. The lawsuit was filed against the Buffalo Grove Illinois company by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the women. You can see how long these cases can take as this case was filed 10 years ago.

The main allegations against the company were that women were regularly propositioned for sex, offered job benefits contingent on the performance of sexual acts and offered money for sex. In some cases women were given negative job performances if they did not go along with the requests for sex which is retaliation. More than 40 women reported being sexually assaulted consisting of everything from attempted rape to slapping

“This is, by far, the most egregious sexual harassment that our Chicago office has ever seen,” said EEOC attorney Diane Smason
March 25, 2011

Country Inn Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $85,000

Country Inn pays $85,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Candace Bland and other female employees. According to published accounts Bland who worked as a housekeeper, and other female staff members employed in the kitchen were subjected to sexual harassment by male employees. A very troubling piece of evidence was that two of the females that were sexually harassed were 18-year-old high school students.

Details of the sexual harassment included male employees requesting the women go out on dates and the use of sexually explicit language. Additionally the males engaged in offensive and unwelcome touching and groping of the female employees. In the most bizarre allegation, a female claims the male exposed himself to her while she was working. Bland complained to the owner and management, but the employer failed to stop the sexual harassment and instead unlawfully reduced the working hours of women who had complained to punish them. This is referred to as retaliation and is the basis for the second charge.

“Sexual harassment of employees in the hospitality industry continues to be a serious problem,” said EEOC attorney Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.
March 24, 2011

DiMare Ruskin Farms Subjecting Women To Sexual Harassment

DiMare Ruskin, Inc. had a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") claiming the company subjected an entire class of females to sexual harassment and then retaliation, when they complained about it. According to published accounts, father-and-son supervisors at the DiMare tomato facility subjected female employees to severe sexual harassment. Any sexual harassment is horrible but some instances are more aggregious than others and in this case the alleged sexual harassment was on the high end of the scale.

The sexual harassment included physical contact such as groping and forcibly attempting to kiss the female employees. It seems as though the father-and-son team thought they could do anything to these females and no one could hold them responsible. There was also verbal harassment, which included the usual vulgar sexual comments. When the females decided to complain the father-and-son supervisors engaged in retaliation. Retaliation takes place when a negative job action results from a complaint of discriminatory conduct.

“It is crucial that the EEOC continue its efforts to eradicate sexual harassment and all other types of discrimination from the workplace whether it occurs in an office, a factory, at a construction site or in agricultural fields.” said EEOC attorney Robert Weisberg

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March 23, 2011

Former Grayville Illinois Mayor Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $17,500

Former Grayville Illinois Mayor Henry S. Kijonka paid $17,500 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit involving former city employee Shelly Osborne. The city ended up paying the settlement amount which is common in these types of cases. According to published accounts Osborne alleged that on a number of occasions Kijonka came up behind her and kissed her on the neck, massaged her shoulders and reached his hands down the front of her sweater.

A problem that can arise in a case like this is witnesses. Many times the person doing the harassment will do it one-on-one and there won't be anyone to witness what took place. I suspect because of the low settlement amount, that is what happened here. I am glad to see Osborne file a complaint and hold the Mayor accountable. Hopefully, the city puts in place a sexual harassment policy and better supervises its' employees.

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March 22, 2011

Wild Beaver Saloon Sued For Pregnancy Discrimination

The Wild Beaver Saloon is being sued for pregnancy discrimination because it unlawfully fired a female bartender/server because of her pregnancy. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after settlement talks broke down. Employers have to be mindful that once an employee gets pregnant, she just can't be fired for that reason. I am glad this female did not just go along with the program and instead filed a complaint with the EEOC.

In a case like this it is not uncommon to seek compensatory and punitive damages as well as a permanent injunction to prevent the company from engaging in any employment practice that discriminates against any employee. Over 90% of cases end up settling prior to trial so there is a good chance this case will settle as well. Many times along with filing a complaint of pregnancy discrimination there will be corresponding complaints of gender discrimination and retaliation.

“Employees who become pregnant should not lose their jobs because of their condition,” said EEOC attorney Laurie A. Young
March 21, 2011

Paramedic Loses Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Kristina Frederick a former paramedic lost her sexual harassment lawsuit when a jury ruled against her. Prior to filing a sexual harassment lawsuit, she had to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Frederick alleged she was sexually harassed by her boss while working for Oldham Emergency Medical Services.

Frederick testified that director Lance Vincent propositioned her for sex while she worked for the department and asked about her sexual preferences. In probably the most damning evidence she said she had intercourse with Vincent. Frederick claims she was given a full-time job that had opened up after having sex with Vincent and says that is why she had sex with him. The lesson here is that if you go to a jury trial and admit you had sex with the boss--it is going to be hard to win. I hope she is able to move on with her life.

"The truth is, she had sex with him because she wanted to,” the other attorney said to the jury.
March 20, 2011

John Muir Health Pays $340,000 To Settle ADA Lawsuit

John Muir Health pays $340,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of eight workers. According to published reports John Muir withdrew job offers to seven nurses and one lab technician based on workplace restrictions that were put in place by independent doctors contracted by John Muir to conduct pre-employment health screenings. You can see how much money it cost the company because they put these poor policies in place.

The problem was that John Muir assumed the eight workers had life-threatening latex allergies and could not safely work in a hospital setting. The workers did not take the news laying down and instead some of the workers were independently evaluated by board-certified allergists, who concluded that they did not have an allergy or sensitivity that would preclude them from working safely in hospital settings. And all of the non-hired workers continued to work in the health care profession.

“The Americans With Disabilities Act requires all employers to ensure that job candidates are not excluded based on a disability or perceived disability". said EEOC attorney Michael Baldonado
March 19, 2011

Brentwood Fire District Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $465,600

The Brentwood, Long Island Fire District pays $465,600 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of firefighters. According to published accounts between 1990 and 2004, the District prohibited volunteer firefighters over age 62 from accruing credit toward a length of service award because of their age.

The end result was that the senior firefighters kept working but did not receive credit for their service once they reaced 62. The lawsuit claims the age restriction violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). You can see how much money this bad policy costs the taxpayers and hopefully the government will get it right next time. You cannot be discriminated against because of your age and the government can't make two policies, one for older workers and one for younger workers.

"The fire department's system penalized older firefighters who continued to actively perform their duties and that was a violation of federal law," said EEOC attorney Adela Santos.
March 17, 2011

Belk Pays $55,000 To Settle a Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

Belk, Inc.pays $55,000 to settle a religious discrimin­ation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Myra Jones-Abid. According to published reports Belk failed to accommodate Jones-Abid's religious beliefs and then fired her because of her religion. The problem started when Belk required Jones-Abid to wear a Santa hat and apron as part of the stores attempt to make store look holiday friendly. Jones-Abid’s religion, Jehovah’s Witnesses, prohibits her from recognizing holidays, and therefore she declined to wear the holiday garb.

Belk terminated Jones-Abid for refusing to wear the apparel. It would not have been too large a burden on the company to allow her to not wear the Santa hat and apron. The company must respect a person's religious beliefs and there was not a legitimate reason for the company to act the way it did. Hopefully in the future, the company will change its policy.

"No employee should be forced to choose between her faith and her job,” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes.
March 15, 2011

Indiana Health Center Pays $45,000 To Settle Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

Indiana Health Center pays $45,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts a female dental hygienist was fired because of her pregnancy and because she was scheduled to go on leave within days of her termination. This also became a case involving gender because men were treated different and therefore she suffered gender discrimination.

With a tight job market, more employers believe they can discard employees who are pregnant and just hire someone else. This case should set an example to employers that if they treat pregnant women different than other employees they may have to pay the price. This is a good illustration of what happens when you discriminate against an employee.

“Pregnancy discrimination continues to rise at an alarming rate,” said EEOC Attorney Laurie Young.
March 12, 2011

University of Cincinnati Sued For Sexual Harassment

Sandra Smith filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the University of Cincinnati ("UC"). Smith was fired last year and was the former Executive Director to The President. Smith is not just suing he University, she is also suing two of its top officials alleging sexual harassment, retaliation and a hostile work environment. According to published accounts, Smith claims UC Executive Vice President Fred Reynolds hugged and kissed her, and made unwanted advances toward her in the office.

Smith first filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") which is required prior to filing a sexual harassment lawsuit in federal court. Smith says Reynolds tried to make her look crazy and blamed her allegations of sexual harassment on a "distorted mind" from medication after back surgery. Smith alleges she complained to UC President Greg Williams about the sexual harassment and creation of a hostile work environment but he did not take her allegations seriously. What he did do is give her a negative performance review and fired her.

The University issued a statement which said " We will defend ourselves vigorously in court."
March 9, 2011

Underreported Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

Last year the number of sexual harassment cases filed with the EEOC dropped to the lowest it has been in nearly two decades. In 2010, the EEOC reports having only 11,717 new cases, nearly as low as it was in1993, and down from a high of almost 16,000 cases in 1997.

One hopes that that this change marks a healthy shift in our workplace culture, that sexual harassment simply happens less now than it did last year. Certainly efforts to educate employers and well-publicized harassment cases have made a positive impact in some employment settings. The decrease in reported cases, however, does not mean that sexual harassment is actually occurring less. It only means that there are fewer reported cases.

Ms. Ziaja regularly writes about law and policy developments for LegalMatch.

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March 8, 2011

Gala AZ Holdings Inc. Sued For Sexual Harassment

A fast food restaurant has been charged with sexual harassment and retaliation. According to published accounts, Gala AZ Holdings, Inc. subjected a female employee to sexual harassment and retaliation according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Andriana Lopez was employed by the restaurant and allegedly she was sexually harassed by an assistant manager. The sexual harassment consisted of the assistant manager fondling himself in her presence, grabbing her buttocks, and attempting to grab her breasts.

Lopez complained to her managers but not only was nothing done to stop the sexual harassment but remarkabely she was suspended and then fired in retaliation for her complaint. This type of behavior seems to be increasing and some employers just don't seem to understand how important it is to properly address a sexual harassment complaint. In this instance, the woman was subjected to a hostile work environment and the company just made things worse.

“Employers who subject people to harassment based on sex are violating federal law,” said EEOC attorney Mary Jo O’Neill, "We have seen an alarming increase in retaliation charges, and we are very concerned that employees know that they can report discrimination without repercussions.”
March 7, 2011

Television Station Settles Age and Gender Discrimination Lawsuit For $45,000

KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City will pay $45,000 to settle a racial discrimination and gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Phyllis Williams. According to published accounts, Williams, a veteran African-American anchor was paid lower wages than comparable white female reporters and male reporters of all races. Williams was also subjected to unequal terms and conditions of employment.

Usually it is difficult to prove racial discrimination because people don't just come out and make racial comments. Instead, you need evidence that shows an unequal treatment and pay difference that can only be explained by a difference in race or gender. I am glad Ms. Williams hung in there and fought for her rights.

“This decree will remind KOKH Channel 25, Sinclair and all news organizations to treat their employees equally as required by law, including women and people of color, who traditionally have been the victims of job discrimination,” said Barbara Seely, regional attorney of the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Oklahoma. “The notice posting and training required by the consent decree will go far in educating the station’s managers on their employees’ right to work in an environment free of race and sex discrimination.”

March 6, 2011

Brand Energy Pays $110,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

Brand Energy & Infrastructure Services, Inc. ("Brand") pays $110,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of former employee, Jauronice Hayes. According to published accounts Hayes worked for Brand at its Conoco Phillips facility and was sexually harassed by her male supervisor. Some of the sexual harassment included inappropriate sexual statements, requests and demands for sexual favors, and sexual touching.

And probably the most revealing testimony was that the supervisor exposed his genitals to Hayes and informed Hayes that if she did not have sex with him, she would be laid off. Threats for sex are not only illegal but forms of sexual harassment and retaliation. In this case Hayes anonymously complained about the sexual harassment to a company hotline and also repeatedly opposed the sexual harassment and rejected her supervisor’s sexual advances.

“I just wanted to do my job and be left alone,” said Hayes. “My boss touching my body and trying to pressure me to have sex with him really hurt me. No woman should have to choose between putting up with this kind of abuse or losing her job and not being able to support her family."

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March 5, 2011

Jury Awards $1.5 Million in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Mid-American Specialties

Mid-American Specialties must pay $1.5 million after a jury found they violated federal law in the sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Mid- American had two managers who subjected three female employees to severe sexual harassment. The sexual harassment consisted of forcing one woman to place her hands on his penis area. Another example was senior managers would make the females become part of what they called the smooching club in order to receive sales leads.

The females rejected these advances and as a result two females were fired which constitutes retaliation. To make matters worse Mid-American had no sexual harassment policy, no training on sexual harassment, and no reporting procedures in place during this time. In what might have been the most remarkable testimony at trial, senior people from the company testified that they did not think that sexual harassment policies and procedures were necessary, so the complaints by the women were not taken seriously. The human resources manager testified that she did not even know the definition of sexual harassment at the time of the events.

"This jury verdict sends the strongest possible message to employers that sexual harassment and retaliation should never be tolerated in the work place,” said EEOC attorney Faye A. Williams
February 13, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuits On The Rise

It looks like 2011 is starting off with an increase in the number of sexual harassment complaints filed with the Illinois Department Of Human Rights ("IDHR") and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), at least by my office. There are probably good reasons for the increases, including the fact that employers are feeling with a high unemployment rate, they can treat employees in a poor fashion. Many times along with filing a complaint of sexual harassment, I also file a charge of retaliation. This happens because the employor will fire or take other negative action against an employee when they complain of being the victim of sexual harassment.

It is very important for people to realize that in Illinois they have 180 days from the last date of the sexual harassment or retaliation to file with the IDHR. They do have 300 days from the last date for file with the EEOC, but in my experience it is better to file with the IDHR as they actually investigate the charge. In any case it is very important to speak with an attorney and discuss the details of your case. Even if you just wish to settle the case quickly, you probably won't be taken seriously if you are not represented by counsel.

February 11, 2011

EEOC Settles Disability Discrimination Lawsuit With Hussey Copper For $85,000

Hussey Copper settled its American With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $85,000. According to published accounts Hussey Copper refused to hire a job applicant because of his record of a disability and because they regarded him as disabled. Apparently Donald Teaford applied for a job as a production laborer and was offered the job but later Hussey Copper rescinded the job offer based on his disability.

Like most companies the job offer required Teaford to pass a physical examination. As a result of the post-job offer examination, the company’s doctor learned that Teaford was receiving methadone as part of a clinically supervised chemical dependency treatment program--normally given to heroin addicts. The company then rescinded the job offer, mistakenly concluding that Teaford was a safety risk due to his methadone treatments. Teaford was qualified for the position, was not experiencing adverse side effects from the methadone treatments, and the treatment program provided the company’s doctor with information verifying Teaford’s successful and compliant participation in the program.

“Methadone treatment is one of the most monitored and regulated medical treatments in the United States,” said EEOC attorney Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. “This case should remind all employers that the ADA requires employers to make individualized assessments about an individual’s ability to do the job instead of acting out of speculative fears or biases.”
February 9, 2011

EEOC Files Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Against Presrite Corp.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against Presrite Corporation claiming it engaged in a pattern of unlawful discrimination by refusing to hire a class of female applicants for certain jobs. The lawsuit says Presrite rejected women for laborer and operative jobs because of their gender since at least 2005.

In gender discrimination lawsuits proof of the discrimination usually lies in comparing males and females regarding their hiring, pay, promotions and discipline. In this case, the EEOC will look at the qualifications and reasons why the females were not hired.

“Title VII makes sex discrimination in employment clearly and plainly illegal,” said EEOC Attorney Debra Lawrence
February 6, 2011

Pacific Seafood Group Settles Retaliation Lawsuit With EEOC For $85,000

Pacific Seafood Group pays $85,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed on behalf of Jesus Perez. According to published accounts Pacific Seafood Group, Inc. illegally fired warehouse worker Jesus Perez after he complained to management about racial discrimination. Perez told his supervisor that he feared he had received a smaller raise than his non-Hispanic co-worker because of his race, he was told that if he was going to accuse the company of discrimination, they should part ways.

Perez was fired the same day he complained of alleged discrimination. This is the basis for his retaliation claim. If the company takes a negative job action against you based on your complaint of discrimination it is retaliation. In this case the evidence was clear, Perez was fired the same day he complained about a difference in pay based on race. The settlement amount is proof the company believed it did something wrong. Good job for Mr. Perez and his ability to hang tough and fight the company.

“I was shocked when they fired me.” “After working there for several years with a good record, I thought they would at least hear me out when I raised my complaint -- not fire me on the spot." Perez said.
February 4, 2011

School Bus Company Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $150,000

First Student which operates a school bus company pays $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of four women. According to published accounts a male supervisor sexually harassed at least four women, including bus drivers and a human resources assistant The four female employees also the victims of retaliation and some were forced to quit,which would be a constructive discharge.

Details of the lawsuit include the supervisor maing constant explicit remarks about the employees' body parts and the sexual acts he wanted to perform on them. It got progressively worse and the sexual harassment turned physical when the supervisor exposed himself, grabbed the breasts of a bus driver and rubbed his private parts against her body.

January 24, 2011

Lesbian Fitness Instructors File Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit Against Gym Owner

Deborah Cooke and Christina Rodino both lesbian fitness instructors filed a lawsuit claiming discrimination based on sexual orientation and the creation of a hostile work environment against gym owner David Barton and his gym David Barton Gym. According to published accounts both women were fired after they put up with antigay comments and sexual harassment. Some of the details of the lawsuit include allegations that Cooke was called Lesbian Deb and asked by a male coworker whether she was going to strap on a penis tonight.

When the women complained about the discrimination the owner fired them which would constitute retaliation. There are facts in this case which indicate the gym had a large gay membership and this type of behavior is not only illegal if proven but also from a business standpoint stupid. This blog will keep track of the lawsuit and post updates when they happen. My guess is the case will settle prior to trial like most lawsuits do.

They both claim they were asked to “engage in sexual relations with another woman at the workplace."


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January 22, 2011

Paul Big M's Grocery Store Must Pay $1.2 Million After Losing Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Big Paul M grocery store must pay $1,260,080 after a jury ruled against them in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to testimony at trial a class of female employees, many of whom were teenagers still in high school at the time, was subjected to a hostile work environment by the store’s general manager for more than 10 years. Details of the sexual harassment included egregious acts of verbal and physical sexual conduct by the company’s general manager, Allen Manwaring.

As an example of the sexual harassment Manwaring suggested a sexual threesome with one teenage cashier’s mother, stuck his tongue in another teenage cashier’s mouth and grabbed and touched the breasts and buttocks of other women. It didn't stop there, Manwaring would also make propositions for sex, make lewd gestures to employees and refuse to stop when asked to do so. Many of the young females could not take it anymore and quit their job. This is often called a constructive discharge.

EEOC attorney Ami Sanghvi said, “The harassment at the store was especially egregious because many of the employees were teenage girls who were harassed by the General Manager, who was engaged to the owner, and felt they had no where to turn for help."
January 21, 2011

Truck Plaza Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $11,500

Timeless Investments, Inc., doing business as EZ Trip Golden State Convenience and Auto/Truck Plaza )"Plaza" settled an age discrimination lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $11,500. The lawsuit was filed because the Plaza failed to hire older workers who were qualified for the positions they applied for.

According to the EEOC, the older applicants were separately instructed to write their ages on the top corner of their respective employment applications and then denied employment based on their age. This conduct is a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"). The company acted in such a fashion as to not even hide their discriminatory conduct. I am glad the EEOC was able to hold the company accountable and stop future discrimination from taking place.

“Age stereotyping continues to remain a problem, and we hope employers proactively ensure that impediments are removed to allow older workers to apply for jobs equally.” said EEOC attorney Anna Park.

January 19, 2011

EEOC Says Firefighter Sexually Harassed

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") completed its investigation and found a female Houston firefighter was subjected to a hostile work environment based on gender discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation. According to published accounts firefighter Jane Draycott found sexual slurs scrawled on her locker after she complained about workplace conditions. The fire department has denied allegations of sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation and the fire department has been unable to find those responsible.

In this case Draycott is not only fighting the city but also the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association ("HPFFA"). The HPFFA is criticizing the EEOC's investigation saying not enough firefighters were interviewed. You would think the union would rally around one of its members when she is being treated in a discriminatory manner. I am glad the EEOC is sticking around and not letting this type of behavior stand. My guess is both parties will want to settle the case at this point and a settlement is probably near.

"There is reasonable cause to believe that the charging party was subjected to a hostile work environment based on her gender and was retaliated against for engaging in a protected activity," the EEOC said.
January 15, 2011

Northwest Cosmetic Labs Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $30,000

Northwest Cosmetic Labs will pay $30,000 to settle a lawsuit based on national origin and retaliation. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf on a British subject born in Zimbabwe. According to published accounts, the employee was hired after a series of phone interviews for a full-time paid internship in cosmetic formulation. She did not interview in person because she was living in England at the time. Upon her arrival in Idaho Falls, she was told by her supervisor that employees at the company would likely be surprised to find out that she was black, since she was British.

What really happened of course was the company saw she was black and did not want her to be an employee. What the company did was try to make it so she failed because she was not the white person they thought they were getting. She received little to no direction from her supervisors and was rarely given assignments, despite her repeated requests to be given work. Her treatment stood in stark contrast to that of the company’s two other interns, who were both Caucasian. She was fired a short time laster.

“Instead of encountering the exemplary American values of justice and equality, this young visitor was treated to discrimination and punishment for standing up for her rights,” said EEOC attorney Michael Baldonado.
January 14, 2011

Cover Girls Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $60,000

Cover Girls, a company engaged in adult business settles an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of waitress Mary Bassi. Published documents in the lawsuit indicated the EEOC alleged Cover Girls violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") by harassing and ultimately firing a waitress because of her age. For its part Cover Girls’ management began hiring younger female waitresses and scheduling them for shifts in place of Bassi, despite the fact that she was performing her duties well and had received no recent disciplinary actions.

Allegedly two male managers at Cover Girls, both in their 30s, began harassing and discriminating against Mary Bassi, who was in her 50s, because of her age. The ADEA protects workers who are over the age of forty. The lawsuit goes on to claim that these managers referred to Bassi as old and made other negative comments about her age, including telling her she was exhibiting signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Bassi worked for the company for 13 years prior to being fired. This case could also have been filed based on gender discrimination because Bassi was being singled out because of her gender as well.

“Age discrimination cannot and will not be tolerated in any business or industry no matter what sector they occupy,” said EEOC attorney James Sacher.
January 13, 2011

Seymour ZX settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $20,000

Seymour ZX a franchisee of the Zaxby’s restaurant chain, pays $20,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of two former employees. According to published lawsuit documements, two employees of a Zaxby’s were fired because they complained about sexual harassment. Both employees were fired on the same day and banned from the store. If someone complains of sexual harassment and is fired or has other negative job actions taken against him, it is referred to as retaliation and it is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In this case the company should have taken the sexual harassment cases seriously and not fired to two workers. Shooting the messenger is never a good idea. There are more cases of retaliation taking place and employers need to educate themselves as to the legal ramifications if they choose to terminate employees for bring illegal acts to their attention. I am glad the EEOC was able to get to the bottom of this case and settle it in a manner that was good for the two fired employees.

“Retaliation charges have been on the rise for years, and it is a real concern,” said EEOC attorney Faye Williams.
January 12, 2011

Marriott Las Vegal Resort Sued For Sexual Harassment

JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort, Spa & Golf is being sued for sexual harassment of its female resort staff. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and alleges at least two female restaurant servers at the resort were subjected to aggressive sexual harassment by a male co-worker who later became their supervisor.

Published accounts allege the harasser repeatedly engaged in verbal and physical harassment including rubbing his body against the women, groping them, and consistently making vulgar remarks. This type of conduct is going to cost the company a great deal of money and I will be checking in on this case and reporting back on the final settlement or if there is a trial, the judgment.

"These women worked in fear on a daily basis,” said EEOC attorney Anna Park
January 11, 2011

Discrimination Filings With the EEOC Hit All-Time High

Discrimination charges filed by workers against their employers have reached an all-time high according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The discrimination that is taking place against workers is at an unprecedented level of 99,922 cases filed during 2010. During that same period of time the EEOC secured more than $404 million in monetary benefits from employers -- the highest level of monetary relief ever obtained by the Commission through the administrative process.

The EEOC broke the categories down into the top five in terms of the most cases that are filed. The numbers are as follows: Retaliation under all statutes (36,258), racial discrimination (35,890) Disability discrimination--Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") (25,165) age discrimination (23,264) and sexual harassment (11,717). I believe the increase in discrimination charges is a direct result of the bad economy and the belief by management that they can do what they want with employees and get away with it.

EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien said. "Discrimination continues to be a substantial problem for too many job seekers and workers, and we must continue to build our capacity to enforce the laws that ensure that workplaces are free of unlawful bias."
January 9, 2011

Women Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit For $110,000

Testing company Measurement Inc. pays $110,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Jacqueline Dukes. According to published accounts Measurement Inc. discriminated against Jacqueline Dukes when it fired her for refusing to work on her Sabbath. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees and applicants because of their religion. Title VII requires employers to reasonably accommodate individuals as long as it does not create an undue hardship on the employer.

Dukes is a member of a Christian denomination called Children of Yisrael which prohibits its members from working on the Sabbath, from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday. The EEOC enforces federal law when it comes to employment issues related to discrimination. In this case, the employer could have made a reasonable accomodation for Dukes and this would have saved the company a great deal of money. The EEOC could have filed an additional charge of retaliation against the company for firing Dukes. Many times EEOC complaints will have multiple counts and allegations.

"Some employers still need to be educated that they are required by law to explore reasonable accommodations to solve situations like this,” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes.
January 8, 2011

Terry Pearson Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $91,000

The City of Greensboro will pay $91,000 to Terry Pearson to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on his behalf. According to published documents in the case the city failed to hire then 58-year-old Pearson and instead hired three younger candidates. The job was an electronic processes specialist within the city’s 911 Division. The job involved maintenance of the city’s radio communication systems for first responders. Pearson previously owned an electronics repair shop and had other substantial experience in electronics repair and maintenance through various technician jobs. Remarkebly, the city selected three substantially younger applicants, all under age 40, who were not as qualified as Pearson.

The lawsuit was filed under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") after the city failed to hire Pearson. Additionally several individuals in the case testified that Pearson was rejected because of his age, and specifically, that the hiring manager was concerned Pearson might retire soon after being hired. There was another twist in this case as well. There was an additional claim against the city for failure to preserve records related to hiring for the position. Federal law requires all employers to keep documents related to personnel decisions for at least one year.

This type of behavior exhibited by management can also lead to a hostile work environment for other workers because of the signal it sends to them. When a work force believes management does not want to hire older workers, it must make them wonder what will happen to them once they turn 40.

January 6, 2011

Chicago Area Jewel Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $3.2 Million

Jewel-Osco stores settled a disability discrimination lawsuit for $3.2 million resolving the case which was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s ("EEOC"). The lawsuit stemmed from a store policy of terminating employees with disabilities at the end of medical leaves of absence rather than bringing them back to work with reasonable accommodations. This policy affected almost 1,000 employees in the greater Chicago area who were allegedly terminated under this policy since 2003.

For various reasons not all of the 1000 former employees are eligable to collect part of the money--only 110 former employees will share in the money. The conduct of the company violated the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). As a result of the lawsuit the policy at Jewel will be revised and this type of activity should not occur in the future. The EEOC did a great job enforcing current law and making sure a large employer did not continue discriminating against its' workforce. This type of behavior by a company also creates a very hostile work environment for employees.

“This very important settlement underscores the EEOC’s commitment to vigorous enforcement of the Americans With Disabilities Act and to ensuring that all workers receive fair and equal treatment in the workplace,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.
January 5, 2011

Car Dealer Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $125,000

David Chevrolet settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with three employees for $125,000. The lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the employees who claimed the dealership created a hostile work environment for the salespeople. According to published accounts because of the sexual harassment the two women quit and the man was fired in retaliation when he complained about the hostile work environment.

Details of the sexual harassment and hostile work environment include exposing the two women to pornography, photos of topless women and lewd comments. The male employee claimed he was sexually harassed based on stereotypes of how a man should act, including assigning him a derogatory e-mail address and subjecting him to comments about highlights in his hair and crude sexual comments when it was learned he had a girlfriend.

Chevrolet attorney Hugh Carlin said "the company agreed to settle the claims because of the anticipated substantial expenditure of time and money necessary to successfully defend itself through trial.”
January 3, 2011

Former Grocery Store Manager Accused Of Sexual Harassment

Eleven former employees of a grocery store called Paul's Big M claim the manager, Allen Manwaring, sexually harassed them physically and verbally over eight years. According to the females allegations Manwaring rubbed himself against them in a sexual way and also touched their breasts and buttocks. As if that weren't enough he also made sexual advances and vulgar comments to them. The sexual harassment lawsuit is finally coming to trial today and this blog will keep you updated as to the result.

Two of the young females were fired after they complained, which is considered retaliation. The other nine said they quit because of the harassment or retaliation, which is considered a constructive discharge. The case was first filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and the EEOC conducted an investigation which substantiated the female workers claims.

“For many, the job at the company was the first they ever held and all were essentially half Mr. Manwaring’s age at the time they were first harassed,” the EECO said.
January 2, 2011

Former Apple Employment Files Lawsuit In Illinois For Disability Discrimination

Former Apple employee Nicole Sutton filed a discrimination lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Illinois alleging Apple discriminated against her in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). The allegations include negative job actions after treatment by a psychiatrist for a nervous disorder, the company keeping her in limbo without duties for several months because of the disability and Sutton being denied a promotion after Apple questioned her mental stability.

The complaint says that she was not mentally ill and she was constructively discharged by Apple’s actions. A constructive discharge occurs when an employee is under such harsh conditions that she must quit and therefore it is treated as a termination by the company if able to be proved. Sutton also claims she suffered humiliation, emotional distress and is seeking $300,000 in damages.

Sutton said "her medical condition was improperly disclosed to Apple store personnel by the company handling her disability claim."

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December 31, 2010

Haven Manor Settles Disability Discrimination Lawsuit For $10,000

Haven Manor settled an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $10,000 ending the litigation. According to legal documents Haven refused to accept temporary placement of Amanda Huff, a hearing-impaired certified nursing assistant ("CNA") because of her disability. An employer may not discriminate against a person because of a disability.

I am seeing more ADA claims in Chicago and I believe it is due to the bad economy. Every citizen has a right to an equal chance at work as long as they are qualified. Although this case settled for a small amount of money, it sends a message and depending on the circumstances, the money may be adequate to fulfill Ms. Huff's needs.

EEOC attorney Melvin Kennedy said. “Such cases should remind employers that the EEOC can effectively enforce the nation’s anti-discrimination laws with the help of its partnerships with state agencies such as the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission, which investigated Ms. Huff’s discrimination charge.”
December 29, 2010

Subway Franchise Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $55,000

SKMATCH, Inc a franchise for a Subway restaurant pays $55,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The EEOC also alleged the creation of hostile work environment because of what happened to two female employees. Published accounts allege that the male assistant manager at the Subway store where Helena Miller worked, subjected her to repeated sexual comments, sexual propositions and name calling and sexual touching.

Miller was only 18 years old at the time she was sexually harassed, and the assistant manager who harassed her was 28. Miller complained to other managers about the sexual harassment but no action was taken in response to her complaints. The harassment was so intolerable that Miller was forced to quit her job in order to avoid being harassed. When an employee quits their job because of discrimination or sexual harassment it is referred to as a constructive discharge. This type of behavior by a member of management not only cost the company money but also bad publicity which will probably cost it customers.

“All workers have the right to work in an environment free from sexual harassment,” says EEOC attorney Lynette Barnes, “No one should have to put up with sexual comments or touching in their place of work.”

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December 28, 2010

Cobra Pavers Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $125,000

Cobra Pavers pays $125,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to details which were published Cobra managers subjected female office employees to a hostile work environment and engaged in sexual harassment by telling stories of sexual exploits, making inappropriate sexual comments, and engaging in unwelcome sexual touching.

Sometimes in traditionally male dominated work places this type of activity seems normal, but in fact it is sexual harassment and will cost the company money every time. It is wise for companies to make sure all of their employees are training in what type of behavior is proper and legal under the law. It has been my experience that the more senior managers are the ones that need the most training of discrimination in the workplace.

“Sexual harassment can never be tolerated in any workplace, and the construction industry is no exception,” said EEOC Attorney Robert Weisberg.
December 28, 2010

Crothall Healthcare Pays $88,000 To Settle Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

Crothall Healthcare, Inc pays $88,422 and reinstates a fired employee to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to court documents Crothall Healthcare fired a housekeeping employee after discovering that she was pregnant. This type of behavior is illegal and will usually result in a lawsuit. Employers seem to think that a pregnant employee can't do the same level of work that was performed prior to being pregnant.

In this case, the amount of money is probably double what the housekeeping employee was making per year so you can see how expensive this type of behavior is. Not only will Crothall have to pay over $88,000 but they will have to submit reports to the EEOC for two-years showing they are not engaging in discriminatory behavior. They will also have to provide training for employees and management so this type of activity does not happen in the future. Engaging is this type of treatment of an employee also forms a hostile work environment to all employees.

“Employers cannot refuse to allow women to work based on discriminatory stereotypes about pregnancy. They must treat pregnant women just as they would any other employee,” said Faye Williams, EEOC attorney.
December 25, 2010

Staffing Firm Settles Constructive Discharge Lawsuit For $20,000

Wisconsin Staffing Services, Inc. pays $20,000 to settle a racial discrimination and constructive discharge lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit was the occured because allegedlly the president of the company engaged in repeated, acts of racial harassment toward a Native American employee, Carolyn Red Bear, allegedly including derogatory comments about Red Bear’s “ethnic” appearance, suggestions that she seek alternative employment in personal home care as more consistent with the skills of Native American people, and statements that she did not “fit in” with the white community in Ladysmith, Wis.

The constructive discharge lawsuit originated out of the company forcing Red Bear out of her job when she refused to comply with a directive from the company president to cut her hair, change her last name, and to stop “rubbing in” her heritage. When you are constructively discharge, it means you have to quit your job because things are so bad that no reasonable person would continue to work there. It is the same as being fired by the company.

"No employee can be required to endure harassment or mocking of her ethnic heritage as a price of holding on to her job,” said John Hendrickson, EEOC attorney.
December 24, 2010

Kaplan Higher Education Corp. Sued For Discrimination

Kaplan Higher Education Corporation is being sued because it participated in a pattern or practice of unlawful discrimination by refusing to hire a class of black job applicants nationwide. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the class of workers after a lengthy investigation. It a common practice but is one that usually doesn't result in a lawsuit, Kaplan rejected job applicants based on their credit history. This practice has an unlawful discriminatory impact because of race and is neither job-related nor justified by business necessity.

As a result of this practice the company engaged in racial discrimination. This can also create a hostile work environment because of the impact this has on the workplace in general. In order to deny someone a job because of their credit score, one would have to show that a person with poor credit would have a negative impact on their job performance. For example in the banking industry it would probably be okay to not hire a person working with money all day if they had a poor credit score because of the involvement with money.

“Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was intended to eliminate practices that serve as arbitrary barriers to employment because of a job applicant’s race,” said EEOC Attorney Debra Lawrence.
December 23, 2010

CasaBlanca Casino Pays $60,000 To Settle Age Discrimination Lawsuit

CasaBlanca Casino settled an age discrimination lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of two sales manager who were over the age of 40. According to documents this office obtained, the two sales managers working at the CasaBlanca Resort & Casino, ages 67 and 55 were informed that their positions were being eliminated.

The problem with that story was the two older sales managers were subsequently replaced by two younger new hires within approximately two months of eliminating their positions. Because they were replaced within a short period of time they were discriminated against due to their age, a direct violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). This type of behavior is not only illegal but it creates a hostile work environment for other employees.

“Notwithstanding, employers should be proactive in reviewing their own procedures and training staff accordingly so that older workers are not treated differently simply because of their age.” said EEOC attorney Anna Park
December 22, 2010

Omnicare Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $195,000

Omnicare, Inc. pays $195,000 to five female workers to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on their behalf. According to published accounts a pharmacy manager engaged in repeated, egregious acts of sexual harassment toward female employees, such as unwelcome touching that included approaching female employees from behind and grinding his crotch on them, and making sexually explicit and demeaning comments to female employees.

The women came forward to reported the conduct to management but nothing was done to stop the sexual harassment and it only got worse. This type of conduct created a hostile work environment for the five women. You would think in a professional atmosphere like a pharmacy this type of behavior would not take place but it seems all to common in todays work environment. I am glad these females came forward and the EEOC was able to settle the case.

“One would think that if any workplace would be free of egregious sexual harassment, it would be a workplace connected to health care -- like a pharmacy,” said EEOC Attorney John Hendrickson.

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December 21, 2010

United Airlines Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $600,000

United Airlines settled a Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit for $600,000. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a group of employees who had disabilities. According to published accounts a group of reservation agents with disabilities were subjected to a blanket policy forcing the group to reduced hourly schedules..

Because of the downtown in the economy many companies feel they can treat workers in a discriminatory way and get away with it. In this case the employees fought back and the EEOC stepped in. You can see how much money this cost the company and hopefully they will change their behavior.

One worker who had worked for United for 25 years and had worked a reduced-hour schedule for 23 years prior to the policy change, said, “Contributing 25 years of work, in a way compatible with my health, was positive for me, for United and for society."
December 19, 2010

Spud Seller Inc. Sued For Sexual Harassment

A Monte Vista potato company, Sput Seller Inc. is being sued for sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment for female employees. Five women claim they were the victims of sexual harassment.Spud Seller denied the allegations and is taking the case to trial. The case was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

According to published accounts the supervisor, Mauricio Gaytan tried to kiss female employees and also engaged in other activity the elevated the claim to sexual harassment. The lawsuit alleges that five female workers are victims of sexual harassment by the supervisor, at least as far back as 2004. It alleges the supervisor physically assaulted one female and propositioned her for sex in 2007. Also Spud Seller created the hostile work environment by purportedly allowing Gaytan to harass women and by failing to prevent and correct the situation.

December 18, 2010

Cheesecake Factory Sued For Sexual Harassment

The Cheesecake Factory is being sued for sexual harassment after Michael Knight claims other male line chefs sexually harassed him and the Factory punished him when he complained. Punishing someone because they report sexual harassment is referred to as retaliation and is illegal. According to details in the lawsuit, Knight claims line chefs continually grabbed each others' buttocks and genitalia and simulated sexual intercourse in front of him.

For his retaliation claim he alleges that the company punished him and then fired him after he expressed his discomfort and complained. In what is the most disturbing allegation, somone put a sanitary pad on a serving of meatloaf that Knight was about to prepare for a customer. When Knight showed this to a person in charge, the person just smiled. This type of behavior creates a hostile work environment and obviously resulted in this lawsuit. The Cheesecake Factory settled a similar claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $345,000 last year. In that case the EEOC conclued the evidence:

"overwhelmingly showed that the men suffered sexually abusive behavior, including abusers directly touching victims' genitals, making sexually charged remarks, grinding their genitals against them, and forcing victims into repeated episodes of simulated rape."


December 17, 2010

The EEOC Has Record Number of Discrimination Claims

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") said it received a record 99,922 charges in FY 2010, the highest number of charges in the agency’s 45-year history. The EEOC secured more than $319 million in monetary benefits for individuals which represents the highest level of relief obtained through administrative enforcement in the EEOC’s history. It is clear the EEOC is stepping up enforcement of discrimination throughout the country.

In Illinois if you are the victim of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, or many of the other types of discrimination that create a hostile work environment, you can contact my office to file a charge with the EEOC or the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") which automatically cross-files with the EEOC. I prefer to file with the IDHR because they have fewer cases and more staff to handle the cases. Also the state route in my opinion is a much faster way to proceed and have your case resolved. The EEOC does a good job, but just not as good as the IDHR when it comes to a speedy resolution.

“The EEOC is on the path toward rebuilding and on track to make further progress in the upcoming fiscal year to more efficiently and effectively enforce the federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.

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December 16, 2010

Hi Care Settles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit For $150,000

Hi Care, Inc. pays $150,000 to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to accounts which have been published, Hi Care engaged in a pattern and practice of race-based assignments of its caregiving employees. Hi Care employed a practice known as racial coding. Racial coding would identify clients who preferred Caucasian caregivers. It is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to make employment decisions about job assignments based on an employee’s race.

As part of the settlement with the EEOC, Hi Care agrees to monitoring by the EEOC to ensure they are not letting this practice happen again. In a case like this the paper work trail of evidence would be difficult to refute. This is a classic case of the company's own business records hurting them. I am glad to see the EEOC hold this company to good business practices.

“We believe that by entering into this consent decree, Hi Care is expressing its determination to prevent future race-based assignments and discrimination,” said EEOC attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
December 15, 2010

Patton Archery Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $21,000

Patton Archery Manufacturing, Inc. will settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $21,000. According to published settlement details, the owner of Patton subjected three female bow sanders, Brenda Maynard, Julie Roberts and Leslie Querio, to a hostile work environment and engaged in sexual harassment of the females. The sexual harassment included telling and disseminating detailed sexual jokes and unwanted physical touching.

Under the terms of the agreement, Patton will also be prohibited from retaliating against any employees for filing a charge of discrimination or participating in the investigation of any charge of discrimination. Because the industry is dominated by males it makes it even harder for females to break into the field. In this case the owner was doing the sexual harassment which puts the employees in a very tough spot. It is always hard to go against the owner of a company but these women hung in there and fought until the end.

“Although the company closed after the EEOC filed its lawsuit, we continued to pursue this case because these three women were harmed and were entitled to relief,” said EEOC attorney Trek Carethers.
December 12, 2010

Denver Hotel Management Company Pays $105,000 To Settle Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

The Denver Hotel Management Company pays $105,000 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The EEOC alleged the company refused to promote a single mother because she had children. According to published documents the woman was denied promotion to a newly created position of assistant human resource director because of her caregiver responsibilities as the mother of two young children, and the job was given to a less qualified and less experienced employee.

The reason give by management was that the woman was being passed over for the job because of her role as a mother of young children, asserting that she could not relocate or work the required 50-60 hour work week because she had a full-time job at home with her children. It is not appropriate or legal to assume just beacuse someone is a single mother they can't do the job. Because woman are affected more by this type of behavior, it falls under the category of gender discrimination.

“Making assumptions about a woman’s ability to perform a job which are not grounded in fact, but instead on stereotyped assumptions about her inability to work long hours due to her child care responsibilities, is unlawful discrimination,” said EEOC attorney Mary Jo O’Neill.
December 11, 2010

Securitas Security Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $65,000

Chicago-based Securitas Security Services will pay $65,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Sheilandra Walker. According to published accounts security guard Walker was subjected to sexual harassment by two male guards; one of whom was her supervisor. If someone is sexually harassed by their supervisor there is strict liability to the company.

The two guards subjected Walker to unwelcome sexual comments, gestures and sexual touching. In probably the most troubling details one of the guards engaged in conduct such as licking his lips and grabbing his crotch while staring at Walker’s breasts, and he would physically touch Walker by blocking the door of the guard shack when she tried to leave so that she had to brush up against him. Once the conduct was reported to management nothing was done to stop it. In fact, the company took a negative job action against Walker and this was the basis for the retaliation claim.

“Employees must be free to report harassment without fear of reprisal,” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes

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December 9, 2010

Sahara Casino Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $100,000

Sahara Hotel & Casino will pay $100,000 to settle a national origin discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").
According to details which were published as part of the settlement, Sahara 's supervisors and coworkers continuously belittled and harassed Ezzat Elias, whose job entailed maintaining and delivering food to the hotel buffet, because of his Egyptian heritage. Mr. Elias had to endure many hostile work environment type commnets while doing his job. The commnets included, “Go back to Egypt,” “f-----g Egyptian,” and often referred to him as “Bin Laden.”

Elias also endured graffiti in the men’s locker room and elsewhere, targeting him with phrases such as “sand n----r” and “the Taliban must die.” You can imagion how difficult it would be to go to work every day under these types of conditions. Elias made repeated complaints to management about what was going on and management did nothing to stop it. Instead supervisors retaliated against Elias shortly after his initial complaint by increasing his workload, subjecting him to closer scrutiny, formally disciplining and ultimately suspending him.

“Under federal law, employees of all national origins are protected from this type of harassment,” said Anna Park, EEOC attorney.

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December 7, 2010

Sexual Harassment and Christmas Parties

Oh tis the season to be jolly, but don't get too jolly at the Christmas (holiday) party. For some reason otherwise good employees get a little liquor in their system and act like damn fools at the Christmas party. I guess some can't handle their liquor or some just don't care. Remember at a Christmas party, lewd and sexual comments are not okay and can form the basis for a sexual harassment complaint. Probably the most damning thing that people do at these parties is sexually harass their co-worker in front of everyone. Talk about leaving some nice evidence.

It is probably a good idea for the boss to remind people that the rules and conduct apply to parties and also the boss should make sure a limited amount of alcohol is available--if any. My office sees a spike in sexual harassment cases after these types of parties and it always amazes me that a better job isn't done by management in that regard. Remember the conduct at a party can also create a hostile work environment. Complaints about sexual harassment or a hostile work environment can be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

December 5, 2010

Akai Security Pays $1.62 To Settle Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuits

Akal Security pays $1.62 million to a class of 26 female security guards, settling a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of them by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Details which have been published claim Akal began a nationwide pattern and practice of forcing its pregnant employees, working as contract security guards on U.S. Army bases, to take leave and discharging them because of pregnancy. Akal also engaged in retaliation against one female by filing criminal charges against her because she filed a claim with the EEOC. That type of activity by a company is scarey and I am glad that the EEOC pursued this matter in an agressive fashion.

In addition to that type of behavior, Akal also created a hostile work environment by subjecting the women to less favorable terms and conditions of employment because of pregnancy, including preventing them from completing their annual physical agility and firearms tests or forcing them to take such tests before their certifications had expired. This type of large settlement should send a message to management that this type of behavior will not be tolerated and will be costly. To other companies that wish to hire Akal Security, I hope they will demand that any discrimination does not take place in the future.

“This is a very important settlement that will help protect an entire class of women from discrimination on account of pregnancy,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.
December 1, 2010

LAZ Parking Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit With EEOC For $46,000

LAZ Parking pays $46,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a Muslim woman. According to accounts with have been published LAZ Parking unlawfully subjected a practicing Muslim woman to discrimination when it terminated her because of her religious beliefs and refusing to remove her head covering (hijab).

This type of activity is taking place more and more and there has been a real increase in religious and national origin discrimination. Both of these types of discrimination cause a hostile work environment for employees.

“LAZ Parking worked diligently with the parties in this case to come to a speedy resolution,” said EEOC attorney Robert Dawkins. “Going forward, we believe LAZ Parking is sincerely committed to avoiding these types of problems.”
November 30, 2010

Marlow 6 Theater Settles ADA Lawsuit With EEOC for $20,000

Innershore Enterprises, Inc., doing business as Marlow 6 Theater, pays $20,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts the company unlawfully fired a concession manager because of her disability, Human Immunodeficiency Virus ("HIV"). The theater fired Robin C. Adams when the company became aware that she was HIV-positive. The Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") makes it unlawful to discriminate against a qualified individual because of an actual disability or because he or she had a record of disability or was regarded as disabled.

This type of activity creates a hostile work environment and usually results in a company paying money to settle the lawsuit. It was be good of companies stopped being ignorant about HIV and instead educated management about the facts and allowed employees to do their job without fear and intimidation.

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said “It is illegal to treat employees or applicants based upon myths, fears and stereotypes about HIV and AIDS.”
November 29, 2010

ESI Settles Disability Discrimination Lawsuit For $95,000

ESI LA Corporation pays $95,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to details of the lawsuit a former truck driver, Ronald Harper, alleged IES violated the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") when it fired Harper because of his disability, dyslexia, even though Harper was able to perform the essential functions of his job. Specifically on the morning of August 12, 2005, Harper told his new supervisor that he is dyslexic. Approximately four hours later, the supervisor fired Harper, stating that he did not want to take the chance of Harper’s dyslexia causing him to see things “swirly” and have an accident.

After contending for five years that Harper did not have a disability and that he was not fired because of a disability, IES admitted shortly before the scheduled trial date that Harper does have a disability within the meaning of the ADA, that he was at all relevant times qualified to do his job, and that IESI did dismiss him because of his disability and in violation of federal law. It is hard to believe that IES took that long to admit what they did.

EEOC attorney Gregory Juge said, “This is a classic case of an employer firing a worker with a disability because of its own misconceptions. Employees with disabilities such as dyslexia are every bit as protected under the ADA as those with more obvious, visible impairments such as blindness or being in a wheelchair.”
November 23, 2010

Holiday Inn Sued for Sexual Harassment

Tamara Byrd and other female employees who worked at the Holiday Inn Express in Simpsonville had a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed on their behalf by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to the lawsuit a new general manager who isn't named in the complaint, took over at the hotel and engaged in a pattern of harassing behavior toward Byrd and other female employees. The most troubling allegation was that two months after the manager was hired, Byrd was fired in retaliation for turning away repeated sexual advances including touching and complaining to company owners.

Byrd complained but the owners dismissed her complaints in one day without a thorough investigation. A week after she complained to corporate officials, the manager told Byrd that he had feelings for her and winked at her and Byrd was fired two days later. When a termination occurs a short time after complaining of discrimination or sexual harassment it is usually in retaliation for reporting the conduct.

November 22, 2010

Tony's Restaurant Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $75,000

Illinois based Tony’s Restaurant pays $75,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a teenaged hostess and two young female cooks who were subjected to sexual harassment. According to the lawsuit while working at Tony’s Restaurant, Kristie Comer, an 18-year-old high school student, was subjected to sexual harassment. The sexual harassment was perpetrated by Tony’s Lounge vice president, Michael Ventimiglia and included repeated unwelcome sexual advances, touching and sexually explicit comments. In addition to that sexual harassment Ventimiglia subjected at least two other young female employees to similar conduct.

Verntimiglia in no longer working for the company and as part of the settlement the company agreed not to rehire him. This is common in the settlement process and hopefully future employers will take note of this conduct. It is important that employers who hire young women, give extra training in sexual harassment to them and the men that supervise them. The young women need to know their rights and how to file a complaint without fear.

“Sexual harassment of teenage girls is a recurring problem in the restaurant industry,” said James R. Neely, Jr., EEOC attorney. Teenage girls and young women are particularly susceptible to sexual harassment and are frequently targeted by sexual predators."
November 21, 2010

EEOC Says Age Discrimination On the Rise

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") heard testimony that age discrimination is causing the nation’s older workers to have a difficult time maintaining and finding new employment, a problem exacerbated by the downturn in the economy. According to published numbers from the EEOC the number and percentage of age discrimination charges filed with the EEOC have grown, rising from 21.8 percent of all charges filed in 2006, to 24.4 percent in fiscal year 2009.

Another alarming statistic is that the rate of unemployment for people age 55 and over rose from a pre-recession low of 3.0 percent (November 2007) to reach 7.3 percent in August, 2010, making the past 22 months the longest spell of high unemployment workers in this age group have experienced in 60 years.

November 20, 2010

One Communications Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit For $66,000

One Communications Corp. will pay $66,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit was filed after first trying to reach a settlement in the case. According to published accounts, the vice president of sales regularly subjected account executives Collin Buten, Alan Gordon and Marc Reinstein to harassment because of their religion, Judaism, at the company’s facility in Conshohocken, Pa.

The three employees complained to management about the discrimination, which included anti-Semitic remarks, but the company failed to take effective remedial measures to stop the offensive conduct. The religious harassment was so intolerable that Gordon was forced to quit, which is considered a constructive discharge.

“Unfortunately, the number of religious discrimination charges filed with the EEOC has increased dramatically over the last decade,” said District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. of the EEOC.
November 18, 2010

Railroad Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $95,000

Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Company ("BNSF") pays $95,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of two made ages 55 and 43. According to the lawsuit Jimmy Rider and Randy Aultman were not hired because of their age. Anyone who is over 40 is a member of a protected class and afforded protections based on age.

Because of the economy many employers are seeking out younger workers and cutting corners when it comes to following the law. Age Discrimination is real and seems to be on the rise as the country has a worker aged work force. It is very important to protect your rights and contact an attorney if you believe you are subject to discrimination.

“It is vitally important, especially given the current economic climate, to protect members of our work force from discrimination based on characteristics that have no correlation with job performance, such as age,” said EEOC Attorney Barbara Seely.
November 16, 2010

McDonald's Pays $50,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

McDonald’s pays $50,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The case involved an assitant manager sexually harassing a teenage female worker. According to published reports an assistant store manager made lewd comments to a teenaged crew member and touched, spanked and hugged him in a way that made him very uncomfortable.

The crew member was only 16-17 years of age when these incidences took place. This type of behavior can create a hostile work environment for all employees not just the one being harassed.

EEOC attorney Elizabeth Grossman said, “The EEOC takes very seriously allegations of sexual harassment involving teenagers because many of them are in the workplace for the first time and don’t know how to complain, especially when the harasser is their supervisor.”
November 14, 2010

Sexual Harassment Cases Increase In Illinois

My office is seeing an increase in the number of sexual harassment cases in Illinois, particularly in my Chicago office. There may be several reasons for the increase including the downturn in the economy and the pressure employees are feeling to go along with whatever is happening at work or else get fired. Because more of the sexual harassment takes place face-to-face and without witnesses it be extremely frustrating for those getting harassed. This harassment also creates a hostile work environment and can lead to a person quitting.

In Illinois you can file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") or the Illiniois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). I prefer the IDHR as they are required by statute to complete their investigation within one year and seem to be better staffed and focused on investigating the complaint. Remember there are very strict time limits for filing and it is very important to contact my office at once to review the facts of your case.

November 12, 2010

Construction Company Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $125,000

Cobra Pavers & Engineering, Inc. and Cobra Construction, Inc., pay $125,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Published reports indicate that Cobra subjected female office employees to a hostile work environment and to sexual harassment. The sexual harassment included telling stories of sexual exploits, derogatory remarks about females, inappropriate sexual comments and engaging in unwelcome touching of a sexual nature by Cobra's managerial agents.

Even though there is constant publicity about sexual harassment and what not to do, there seems to be a never ending stream of cases. Industries that are dominated by males seem to have a hard time adjusting to females and to treating females with respect in the workplace. This type of settlement should send a message and make the owners and management take notice.

"Sexual harassment can never be tolerated in any workplace, and the construction industry is no exception," said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg.
November 11, 2010

Guardsmark Pays $52,500 To Settle Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Guardsmark LLC pays $52,500 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Danielle Jones and other female guards. According to published accounts Jones was not treated like the males guards because the company listened to customer preferences for male security guards and reassigned Jones and the other female guards to inconvenient, lesser-paying security guard posts.

Even though the company is in business to make money and to serve the needs of its' clients, the company may not engage in discriminatory conduct. This type of behavior is illegal and will end up costing the company cash and goodwill. It is very important to contact an employment lawyer if you believe you are the victim of discrimination in Illinois. This type of behavior can also create a hostile work environment and make the employees life miserable.

“This settlement serves as reminder to businesses that a customer’s preference to be staffed or served by workers of a particular gender is never an excuse to engage in illegal sex discrimination,” said EEOC attorney Jim Sacher.
November 10, 2010

Days Inn Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $50,000

Days Inn Hotel pays $50,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a spanish speaking female housekeeper. According to published accounts, a supervisor sexually harassed the housekeeper and when she complained to management they did nothing to stop it and even cut her hours.

The sexual harassment created a hostile work environment for the housekeeper. In the complaint it was alleged that the housekeeper was sexually assaulted, including being subjected to an attempted rape by a supervisor. This was a very serious sexual harassment case and I am glad the EEOC was able to help this woman and hold the company and supervisor accountable.

"The EEOC takes extreme forms of sexual harassment, like the attempted sexual assault in this case, extremely seriously," said Nedra Campbell, the EEOC attorney assigned to handle the case.
November 9, 2010

Cactus Grill Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $150,000

The Cactus Grill will pay $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit involving a former teenage employee. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the female employee. According to published reports, an assistant manager asked the 18-year-old female server for sex, touched her and made unwelcome sexual advances toward her. It is also alleged that the Cactus Grill had received complaints about the assistant manager before and did nothing to correct or stop his behavior.

After the female reported the sexual harassment, she claims it did not stop and resulted in a hostile work environment. She felt unsafe and uncomfortable at work so she quit. When this happens it is called a constructive discharge and can be a separate discrimination complaint. Cactus Grill is owned by Northstar Inc.

“The young woman told the restaurant that she did not want to return to work,” said Paul Pautler, Northstar’s attorney.
November 1, 2010

Northern Illinois Based Maxwell House Sued For Gender Discrimination

The Maxwell House Coffee headquartered in Northern Illinois is being sued for gender discrimination for subjecting a female employee at its Jacksonville, Fla., coffee plant to discriminatory terms and conditions. The company allegedly also disciplined and terminated Francena Smith on the basis of her gender. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Smith. According to published accounts Smith was disciplined more harshly that her male co-workers when they were involved in incidents where coffee was damaged, and was then fired because of her gender.

An arbitrator ordered Smith reinstated in March 2010, however she did not receive any monetary damages. This can happen with arbitration and it does not affect the ongoing litigation. It puts the company in a tough spot because they are being sued by a person who is working for them. This also can create a hostile work environment and can be tricky for the person who was just ordered back to work.

“Subjecting a person to different standards and discipline simply because of the person’s gender is just plain wrong,” said EEOC Acting District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas.
October 28, 2010

Rally's Hamburgers Settles Teenage Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $150,000

Rally's Hamburger's will pay $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published reports at least one former Rally's Hamburger's manager violated federal law by sexually harassing teenage females. The manager subjected teenage female employees to unwelcome sexual comments, advances and groping. The manager did not stop there, according to published accounts the manager also assaulted one teenage female.

This type of activity creates a hostile work environment and makes working tough for all employees. When there are female teenage workers and older male supervisors, the owners of the company must take extra steps to ensure there is not sexual harassment going on. Because the teenage workers are not experienced, they may be more apt to not report the sexual harassment or to go along with it.

October 21, 2010

McDonald's Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $50,000

McDonald’s pays $50,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to details that are published, McDonald’s unlawfully subjected an employee to sexual harassment. The details include an assistant store manager making lewd comments to a teenaged crew member and that he touched, spanked and hugged him in a way that made him very uncomfortable. The employee was only 16-17 years of age at the time.

This type of activity creates a hostile work environment and is illegal. I am glad the EEOC held McDonald's accountable for the actions of its management team. At fast food restaurants, many employees are young and may seem easy to take advantage of. McDonalds needs to put better protections in place so this doesn't happen in the future.

Adela Santos, the EEOC trial attorney assigned to the case, added, “We are very pleased that McDonald’s agreed to settle this case without protracted litigation and that it is taking steps to prevent future workplace discrimination."
October 20, 2010

Austin Foam Plastics Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $600,000

Austin Foam Plastics pays $600,000 to settle a racial discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment and retaliation lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Austin Foam subjected African-American employees to a racially hostile work environment, subjecting two male employees to a sexual harassment and fired one employee for opposing and reporting the discrimination and harassment.

The pubished accounts allege the harassment included black employees being routinely subjected to discriminatory intimidation, racially offensive comments, insults, cartoons and jokes. A female manager sexually harassed male employees by subjecting them to unwelcome sexual comments and unsolicited physical contact of a sexual nature. She also offered more favorable terms of employment to those males who went along with her sexual harassment and punished those that didn't.

“The law requires employers to take reasonable steps to prevent and to correct racial and sexual harassment,” said David Rivela, EEOC attorney.
October 19, 2010

Planet Ford Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $160,000

Planet Ford pays $160,000 to settle a sexual harassment, age discrimination and racial discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Published accounts claims that one employee was subjected to race discrimination by his supervisor and was retaliated against for complaining about the supervisor’s discriminatory conduct. Another employee was subjected to sexual harassment by the supervisor. The sexual harassment included comments of a sexual nature and taunts by the supervisor that the original complainant, who is heterosexual, was engaging in homosexual activities.

The supervisor also repeatedly berated the employee for being too old for the job and washed up in the industry. The supervisor repeatedly sabotaged the employees work efforts. Both employees complained to management but nothing was done by Planet Ford to put a stop to the conduct. In the end one employee transferred and one quit. This is considered retaliation by Planet Ford because they did nothing to stop the discrimination and forced the complaining employees into other positions as a result of their complaints.

“This settlement demonstrates that harsh treatment against workers because of their age and/or race, whether they are white or members of other races, will be aggressively opposed by the EEOC,” said EEOC Attorney Jim Sacher.

October 18, 2010

Forrest City Grocery Sued For Gender Discrimination

Forrest City Grocery Company is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for gender discrimination for not promoting a female worker, Amanda McMillan because of her gender. McMillan worked as a clerical employee then applied to an outside salesperson position but was denied solely because of her gender. Additionally, the company refused to pay her what it paid male employees performing comparable duties.

In cases like this, it is easy to determine the facts as far as pay is concerned. One only need to review the checks of the males and Amanda McMillan and they were either paid more than her or they weren't. This type of discrimination can lead to a hostile work environment.

“Remarkably, some employers still believe women should be excluded from certain types of work simply because of their gender,” said Delner Franklin-Thomas, EEOC attorney. “This is not just bad business, it is illegal.”
October 14, 2010

Strip Club Settles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit For $95,000

A strip club called Papermoon will pay $95,000 to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Papermoon subjected two black doormen to racial harassment, segregation, and differing terms and conditions of employment. The company also engaged in retaliation against white employees who complained about the treatment they witnessed.

Managers at the Papermoon referred to black employees using offensive racial slurs, forced black employees to work in the back of the club instead of at the club entrance, and complained that “black music makes the club look bad.” Additionally company managers did not stop the harassment, but instead either forced out or fired white employees who opposed the abusive conduct. This type of behavior is not tolerated and is illegal. As you can see this type of activity cost the club almost $100,000.

“It is important for employers to recognize that this type of racial discrimination has no place in the modern workplace,” said EEOC Attorney Robert Weisberg. “Employers must treat employees of all races with dignity.”
October 12, 2010

Taxi Driver Applicant Settles ADA Claim For $30,000

Vegas Western Cab Company pays $30,000 to a disabled job applicant to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to documents published in the case. Western Cab refused to hire Joel Walden, a single-arm amputee who applied for a taxi driver position. Walden was rejected although he met all of the requirements stated in the job announcement, had experience as a driver and an unblemished driving record. This type of conduct by the company is illegal and not very kind. I am glad to see Mr. Walden stand up and fight the company and assert his rights.

People with disabilities are some of the most vulnerable people in society and we need to work extra hard to protect them from the abuses of employers. Organizations like the EEOC along with plaintiffs attorneys like myself are working hard to fight for the justice and equality of disabled Americans. If you believe you are being discriminated against, please seek help and don't let the companies get away with this type of behavior.

“In this case, the applicant was ready, willing and able to do the work,” said Anna Y. Park, EEOC attorney. “When evaluating a disabled job applicant, the sole consideration should be whether the applicant can do the job."
October 11, 2010

Prologix Distribution Services Pays $162,400 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Prologix Distribution Services pays $162,400 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published reports, several women who worked as magazine order fillers were subjected to sexual harassment by a longtime supervisor. The sexual harassment included sexually explicit remarks and inappropriate touching. You can see how much this type of behavior cost the company.

In instances where many women are coming forward with the same complaint it usually looks bad for the person being accused. Of course, there are many facts that will ultimately determine whether or not there was actually sexual harassment. In this case, the settlement amount would indicate the company believed there was damaging evidence.

EEOC attorney Kaleb Kasperson said, “Inappropriate touching and lewd comments are perfect examples of conduct which has no place at work. The law requires that the workplace be free from this type of blatant harassment and sexual innuendo.”
October 10, 2010

Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit Settled For $35,000

Better Family Life pays $35,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination suit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the pregnant woman. According to published accounts of the lawsuit, a company representative telephoned a former employee to offer her a job as an employment lead trainer. The woman was well qualified for the postion and was ready to accept employment. However while on the telephone the former employee told the representative that she was pregnant. The representative called back a few days later to rescind the job offer because of the former employee’s pregnancy. This is a clear violation of the law and resulted in the settlement.

“All employers, for-profit and non-profit companies alike, must comply with federal anti-discrimination statutes, including the law prohibiting pregnancy discrimination.” said Barbara A. Seely, EEOC attorney.
October 7, 2010

Concrete Company Pays $325,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Concrete company Bardon, Inc. pays $325,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Bardon created and maintained a hostile work environment for Ora L. Borrell -- the only female quality control technician employed at the company.

The sexual harassment included repeated public urination in her presence, overt and explicit sexual comments and requests, touching and grabbing against her will and other sexually offensive conduct while on the job. This type of activity at work is against the law and will cost a company money each and every time. Borrell’s managers were aware of the sexual harassment because they witnessed some incidents. Borrell was subsequently fired by the company’s human resources department in retaliation for opposing these discriminatory practices.

“Sexual harassment continues to be a persistent problem 45 years after the enactment of Title VII, which prohibits gender discrimination in employment,” said EEOC Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
October 6, 2010

Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit Because Of Race-Based Preferences

The United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit issued a ruling regarding what constitutes a hostile work environment. In Chaney v. Plainfield Healtcare Center, the 7th Circuit ruled a nursing home which had a policy of honoring a patient's racial preferences is not required to do so by law and therefore can be sued for creating a hostile work enivornment for it's workers. It is crazy that in this point in our country's history we still have companies and people who are acting like it's 1700. You would think people have evolved to the point where they don't have to discriminate like this.

The problem started when black nursing assistant Brenda Chaney did not help a patient because the patient did not want any black people helping her. Chaney claimed that the healthcare center rules on racial preferences caused her to become depressed. Chaney sued the healthcare center but the district court dismissed the case after granting summary judgment in favor of the healthcare center. The 7th Circuit reinstated the lawsuit and my guess is the parties will now settle. Aside from creating a hostile work environment, the company probably engaged in racial discrimination from the behavior as well.

"The policy puts Plaintfield at risk of violating duties of medical care that it owes its residents" Judge Ann Claire Williams said.

Continue reading "Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit Because Of Race-Based Preferences" »

October 5, 2010

Magazine Distributor Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $162,400

Prologix Distribution Services a magazine distributor, pays $162,400 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of several female employees. According to published accounts the women worked as magazine order fillers and were subjected to sexual harassment by a longtime supervisor.

The sexual harassment included the making of sexually explicit remarks and inappropriate touching and groping of the women. This type of sexual harassment is the most common and I am glad to see the women take a stand and not let the company or the supervisor get away with it.

“No one should be subjected to this type of harassing conduct in the modern workplace,” said EEOC Attorney Robert Weisberg. “Employers must take appropriate steps to assure that this kind of abuse does not occur.”
October 3, 2010

Williams Sausage Sued For Hostile Work Environment and Racial Discrimination

Williams Sausage sued for racial discrimination by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of an African-American maintenance worker who was paid less than others. The EEOC also alleged that Williams Sausage subjected him to a hostile work environment because of the discriminatory acts and this led to him quitting. What an employer forces an employee out of a job it is referred to as a constructive discharge.

According to published documnets, Williams Sausage gave raises and paid higher salaries to all maintenance department employees except the department’s lone African-American employee and allowed a supervisor to regularly use racially offensive language toward the employee because of racial animus. It is hard to believe that this type of behavior still exists but sadly it does. It takes vigilence and hard work to ferret out these types of companies and to protect the rights of all employees.

“Sadly, race discrimination continues to exist in the workplace where workers are paid less and subjected to harassment. Addressing such conduct remains a priority for the Commission,” said Katharine W. Kores, EEOC attorney.

Continue reading "Williams Sausage Sued For Hostile Work Environment and Racial Discrimination" »

October 2, 2010

Veterinary Clinic Sued For Sexual Harassment By EEOC

East Hawaii Veterinary Center a veterinary clinic is being sued for sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit was filed by the EEOC on behalf of at least six female employees, ranging from receptionists to a veterinarian, who were subjected to extremely offensive, vulgar comments geared solely toward female staff by a co-owner of the clinic. The male staff members were not subjected to any of this type of behavior.

On a near-daily basis, the co-owner insulted the women by calling them “worthless,” “whores” and other extremely vulgar epithets, and generally treated the women differently. When one of the females complained about what was going on, a different co-owner took no action to stop it and fired at least three of the females which is retaliation. Others were forced to quit and this is referred to as a constructive discharge. A constructive discharge takes place when the company takes steps to make work so miserable for a worker that the worker is forced to quit. This type of behavior by professionals is remarkable and will end up costing them money.

“Supervisors and top managers have a higher duty to ensure a workplace free of hostility,” said Anna Y. Park, EEOC attorney “Women have the right to work without the utter degradation displayed here, and the EEOC will fight to ensure that employers pay for such injustices.”
September 30, 2010

Fry's Electronics Sued For Sexual Harassment

Fry's Electronics is being sued for sexual harassment of a young female employee and retaliation for actions it took against her supervisor after he spoke out on her behalf. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of America Rios. According to published documents an assistant manager began to sexually harass sales associate America Rios who was under 21 years old at the time. Rios repeatedly refused his advances but the harasser continually sent her sexually charged text messages with invitations to his house and offers of alcohol.

Rios reported the sexual harassment to her immediate supervisor, Ka Lam. Lam immediately spoke to upper management about the sexual harassment and was told to focus on his job and that some changes might be happening. A very short time after Lam reported the sexual harassment he was fired for poor performance, even though the EEOC found that he had never received a bad review and had consistently been promoted during his four years with the company.

“This was my first job,” said Rios. “I was overwhelmed, uncomfortable, stressed out, and I didn’t know what to do. I tried to let it go, but I felt violated and didn’t know how to pretend that nothing happened.”

“I worked hard for this company, and tried to do what was right by standing up for Ms. Rios,” said Lam. “Firing me for speaking out was wrong.”

Continue reading "Fry's Electronics Sued For Sexual Harassment" »

September 29, 2010

McDonalds Franchise Pays $15,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

A McDonald's franchise pays an female ex-employee $15,000 to resolve her sexual harassment lawsuit which also included a charge of retaliation. Published accounts claim that cashier Gladys Rivera was subjected to consistent sexual harassment by a male co-worker for several months. She claims that a supervisor and restaurant manager knew of the sexual harassment and did nothing to stop it. She kept complaining about the sexual harassment and was terminated because she would not stop complaining. This is called retaliation.

Rivera also alleged the same co-worker slapped her on the backside and said Rivera looks good. Although McDonalds denied that Rivera was sexually harassed, several witnesses interviewed by the human rights division supported Rivera's version of events. I suspect that the additional witnesses are what caused the company to settle the case. In Illinois you can file a claim of sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and they will cross-file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

Rivera alleged that a co-worker, Edwin Andujar of Newark, invited her to get together in private and "see how much of a man I am."
September 28, 2010

Roberts Truck Center Sued For Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

Roberts Truck Center is being sued for sexual harassment and retaliation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC")on behalf of a class a female workers. According to published accounts of the sexual harassment, a co-worker employed by Roberts subjected Katherine Abernathy and a class of women, including at least three others, to sexual harassment. When the EEOC files a lawsuit based on a class of discriminated workers, there is usually a very good case. In this instance I believe this case is going to cost Roberts a great deal of money to settle.

Published documents allege the women were subjected to sexual comments, sexual innuendo and unwelcome touching of their bodies, which created a hostile work environment for them. Additionally, Abernathy suffered retaliation with respect to sales opportunities and in the terms and conditions of her employment because she opposed the sexual harassment. Abernathy was fired because she opposed the unlawful employment practices which is referred to as retaliation.

"Our investigation revealed that a co-worker of these women was permitted to harass them and Roberts Truck Center managers did not act promptly to provide corrective relief,” said EEOC attorney Rayford Irvin
September 27, 2010

Holiday Inn Sued For Sexual Harassment

The Holiday Inn is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for sexual harassment. According to published accounts the Holiday Inn fired front desk clerk Beatriz Garcia for complaining about being sexually harassed by her boss. Firing her for reporting sexual harassment would be retaliation and is an additional charge that Holiday Inn is being charged with. According to the complaint, Garcia was subjected of unwelcome touching, sexual comments and threats in response to complaining about the sexual harassment from a supervisor.

Garcia was fired in retaliation for complaining about the harassment to Holiday Inn management and faced further retaliation for filing a complaint with the EEOC. This type of behavior is not tolerated and what really makes things bad is her former manager at the Holiday Inn called her new employer in an attempt to warn him about Garcia and obtain her new contact information. This type of activity will be the undoing of the case for Holiday Inn and I suspect they will settle rather than go to trial.

"I came to this country to work hard and achieve the American Dream. Soon after being promoted, I realized that the promotion came at a price I did not want to pay. I could not continue to work where I was being treated as a sexual object." Garcia said.
"By law, employers must protect their workers and take responsibility for the actions of their supervisors," said EEOC attorney William Tamayo.

Continue reading "Holiday Inn Sued For Sexual Harassment" »

September 26, 2010

IHOP Pays $105,000 In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Two waitresses who were sexually harassed by a manager when they worked at the International House of Pancakes ("IHOP") were awarded $105,000 by a jury in their sexual harassment lawsuit. Both women were teenagers when they worked at IHOP and their manager Rosalio Gutierrez sexually harassed them. According to their testimony at trial both women complained about comments, touching and sexual propositions by the manager. Gutierrez has since left IHOP and his current occupation is not known.

The restaurant did nothing to Gutierrez and fired one of the females. This type of behavior is not only wrong but ended up costing the company a great deal of money. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the two females. This type of behavior also creates a hostile work environment for all employees.

September 25, 2010

T.A. Loving Company Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit For $47,500

T.A. Loving Company settles a religious discrimination lawsuit for $47,500. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Elvis Cifuentes and two other workers. The men worked as laborers and were fired for refusing to work on their Sabbath. Cifuentes Angel and the other laborers are members of the Seventh-Day Adventist faith, which prohibits work on a member’s Sabbath, which runs from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday.

Companies need to make reasonable accomodations for workers and if they don't it will cost them time and money. As you can see, in the end the company had to pay and what was the point. Workers have many rights and they need to exercise them when they believe they are the victim of discrimination.

“Employers must respect employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs and carefully consider requests made by employees based on those beliefs,” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes.
September 24, 2010

Mineral Met Pays $440,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Mineral Met pays $440,000 to settle a racial discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts, a class of black employees was subjected to racial hostility and discriminatory behavior at Mineral Met’s Cleveland facility. The examples of the discrimination are plentyful. Quality Control Supervisor Langston Satterwhite had an excellent work history, but a white supervisor unfairly disciplined him for trivial matters, such as having facial hair or using a cell phone, even though white co-workers were not reprimanded for doing the same things.

Satterwhite complained to upper management about the racial discrimination he and other black employees experienced, but these complaints only resulted retaliation. Also once Satterwhile came forward and complained the company moved his office from the second floor, where other managers worked, and placed him in the basement with his subordinates. This type of behavior is obviously discriminatory and one has to wonder what the company was thinking. At the end of the day, companies are going to be held accountable for their actions and should think twice about how they handle situations.

“I am very pleased that Mineral Met has agreed to a settlement that not only remedies the harmed individuals, but implements policies preventing reoccurrence of such egregious behavior,” said EEOC Attorney Debra Lawrence.
September 23, 2010

Dentist Sued For Sexual Harassment

Smile Brands a dental company was sued for sexual harassment by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to the lawsuit two female employees were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment and to sexual harassment by the lead dentist David Mikitka. The lawsuit claims dental hygienist Deanna Chaney and dental assistant Jan Pawelek were subjected to unwanted sexual conduct shortly after they started working.

The sexual harassment included unwanted sexual comments, touching and making sexual comments about female patients. Pawelek and Chaney repeatedly told the dentist to stop his unwanted sexual behavior but he ignored their multiple requests. Once the dentist refused to stop the sexual harassment both women complained to management but management failed to conduct a proper investigation and to stop the harassment. This type of behavior is not appropriate in the workplace and will probably result in a settlement that will cost the dental company a substantial amount of money. Also the negative publicity will cost the dental company business as most females will not want to have their dental work performed in such an environment.

“A medical or dental office is a place where both employees and patients should feel safe from sexually-charged comments or assessments,” said EEOC Attorney Robert Canino
September 22, 2010

Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit Settled For $130,000

Southwest Dental Group settles pregnancy discrimination lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $130,000. Published accounts claim that an upper-level member of management made inquiries during interviews of female applicants regarding their marital status; whether they were or planning to become pregnant; and if they had children. All of these questions are not appropriate and should not be asked during a job interview.

That was bad enough by also three former female employees were either demoted, discharged or forced to resign as a result of their pregnancies. This shows a clear pattern of discrimination by the company. One of those female employees was even discharged during her pregnancy. Another was demoted and ultimately discharged after she was unable to follow the manager’s instruction to take only two weeks of maternity leave following an unanticipated C-section. Upon return from maternity leave, a third female employee was forced to resign after she was demoted from her prior position of assistant manager to that of a clerk tasked with passing out flyers in a parking lot. When a person is forced to resign it is also referred to as a constructive discharge.

“The question of whether or not a woman is pregnant, wants to have children or already has them, cannot play a role in an employer’s decision to hire,” said Anna Park EEOC attorney.
September 21, 2010

EEOC Settles ADA Lawsuit For $47,500

Evans Solutions which is an alternative school will pay $47,500 to settle an American With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to accounts of the lawsuit Evans Solutions discharged a school social worker diagnosed with breast cancer because it regarded her as disabled, even though she had a solid work record with the company. That kind of behavior by a company is ridiculous and I am glad the EEOC made the company pay.

The employee Doris Bennett was a capable school social worker who informed her employer that she had been diagnosed with stage-zero breast cancer. In response, Bennett’s supervisor prepared an e-mail for Evans’ chief of staff which gave details about Bennett’s breast cancer and recommended that another school social worker be hired for the following academic year. Defendant let her go at the end of the year.

“We are pleased with the relief provided by the consent decree,” said Dale Price, the EEOC attorney. “It provides meaningful relief to Ms. Bennett and protections for the employees of Evans Solutions. It also reminds employers that they cannot make employment decisions based on fears and stereotypes about people with cancer.”
September 17, 2010

Illinois Company Roadway Express Pays $10 Million To Settle Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Roadway Express and YRC, Inc. will pay $10 million to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to details which have been published, the company subjected black employees at its Chicago Heights, Ill., and Elk Grove Village, Ill., facilities to a racially hostile working environment and racial discrimination in terms and conditions of employment. There seems to be an increase in discrimination cases in the Chicago area and in Illinois.

The EEOC claimed black employees were subjected to multiple incidents of hangman’s nooses, racist graffiti, racist comments, and racist cartoons. Additionally black employees were subjected to harsher discipline and scrutiny than their white counterparts. Discipline for employees should be the same and when an entire class of employees is disciplined differently, it usually means there is some discrimination taking place.

“No one should have to endure degrading racial harassment in order to earn a living,” said P. David Lopez, General Counsel of the EEOC.
September 16, 2010

Plastics Manufacturer Settles Gender Discrimination Lawsuit For $170,000

Polycon Industries, a plastics product manufacturer pays $170,000 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit was filed by the EEOC on behalf of female employees who were not getting promoted to production positions which earn more money.

According to the allegations in the lawsuit Polycon illegally considered gender when placing new hires into entry-level positions, to the detriment of female new hires, who were overwhelmingly placed into lower-paying entry-level jobs. In cases like this the documents available through human resources can make or break the case. Either the evidence will show discrimination or it won't--in this case it obviously did.

“Despite the Commission’s 45-year existence, some employers still make the mistake of basing job placement decisions on gender, said EEOC Attorney Laurie Young.
September 15, 2010

Hospital Worker Gets $50,000 To Settle Retaliation and Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

A San Juan hospital pays $50,000 to settle a religious discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Javier Gonzalez-Torres. According to published accounts of the lawsuit, Torres claims the hospital failed to accomodate his religious beliefs. Torres worked at the hospital as a registered nurse and told the hospital that he could not cut his hair because of his religion, Santeria.

The hospital refused to allow him to wear his hair long, even though the hospital has a policy allowing female employees to wear their hair any length. If that weren't bad enough the hospital retaliated against Gonzalez-Torres by firing him after he complained about the discrimination. There seem to more be men filing discrimination charges with the EEOC. I don't know why the hospital would have a problem letting a man have the same length of hair a women does.

“Employers must reasonably accommodate employees’ religious beliefs and practices, and there is no gender distinction for that,” said EEOC Attorney Michael O’Brien.
September 11, 2010

Applebee's Sued For Gender Discrimination By The EEOC

Applebee’s is being sued for gender discrimination for denying a promotion to a qualified female employee. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and alleges Amanda Antisdel worked as a server for Applebee’s and throughout her employment at Applebee’s, Antisdel excelled as a server. When she learned of an upcoming open bartender position she immediately informed the restaurant’s bar manager of her interest in the position. The bar manager assured Antisdel that as soon as the job became open she would be selected. The bar manager also permitted Antisdel to train behind the bar with the other bartenders for about three weeks.

A few weeks later she learned that Applebee’s recruited a less qualified male for the open bartending position and placed him in the position. Although Antisdel met all the qualifications for the position and was the most qualified person for the position and had more seniority than the male employee, the company recruited and selected him because Applebee’s wanted a straight male behind the bar. This type of activity is illegal, if proven and will cost Applebee's some cash.

“Denying a person a promotion because of her sex is unjust and unlawful,” said Lynette A. Barnes, EEOC attorney.
September 10, 2010

School Sued For Age Discrimination

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed an age discrimination lawsuit against Thomasville City Schools. According to the lawsuit Thomasville failed to hire Arlene Lent for two assistant principal positions because of her age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). If a worker is over 40 years of age, the ADEA kicks in.

The lawsuit alleges Thomasville Schools selected two younger, less qualified candidates for assistant principal positions over Lent because of her age, 54. Lent met all of the minimum qualifications for the positions while neither of the younger candidates who were selected met the qualifications. As an example, neither of the selectees who were 39 and 35 years of age, respectively, held a principal’s license. Employers often leave a paper trail in age discrimination cases and in this csae the qualifications of Lent and the other two candidates was the paper trail.

“Too often, age bias is the determining factor in hiring decisions and older applicants are simply written off and not given a fair chance to compete,” said Lynette A. Barnes, attorney for the EEOC. “Employers cannot refuse to hire qualified older workers because of their age; it is illegal as well as unfair and counterproductive.”
September 7, 2010

Interior Decorator Settles Sexual Harassment Case for $250,000

It looks like being an interior decorator is a pretty good way to make a living-that is if you have ties to the housing authority. According to published reports, the Philadelphia Housing Authority ("PHA") will pay through its' insurance company $250,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim against executive director Carl R. Greene. The claim was first filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") by Elizabeth Helm, 29, a former interior decorator with PHA. According to her allegations Greene made advances including touching, grabbing, and groping her. Helm repeatedly told Greene to stop but Greene continued to forcibly and physically pursue inappropriate and unwanted contact of an intimate nature with her.

Because of this sexual harassment Helm was advised by her doctor not to return to work. She requested a medical leave, but was denied one by PHA. Because she was denied she took her vacation time and when it was exhausted and she did not return to work, PHA stopped paying her. She then applied for unemployment and PHA engaged in retaliation by fighting her claim. Fighting unemployment when allegations like this are brought to the attention of management is just stupid. It only makes the person want to pursue a claim and makes the amount available to them in damages increase. Additionally, if a person is unable to continue at work because of the discriminatory actions that are taking place at work, it is called a constructive discharge.


September 6, 2010

Former Moline Illinois Public Library Worker Gets $1 Million for Retaliation Lawsuit

Mary Clark a former Moline Public Library worker settled her retaliation lawsuit with the city of Moline for $1 million. According to published reports Clark who worked for the library for 24-years, claimed Leslie Kee a retired library director fired her in retaliation for complaints she made against the director. It all started back in 2008 when Clark complained to the library board alleging Kee was creating a hostile work environment, and acting in a vulgar and offensive manner. The lawsuit claimed that Kee and the City of Moline were discriminating based on sexual harassment, racial discrimination and national origin. In cases like this it is not unusual to have multiple claims of discrimination. She is basically saying I complained about all these types of behavior and as a result I was retaliated against by being fired.

After the complaint to the board Kee was reprimanded for her behavior and one month later, Kee recommended to the library board that Clark’s position be eliminated to save money. Clark was fired and based on the close proximity to her complaint, one could see the retaliation. The city was fighting the lawsuit but statements began to emerge that hurt the city's case and they decided to settle. You can see how important it is to have documents that are favorable to your case. In this case, a million dollar settlement was reached because of the documents.

“The city and insurance company were surprised and disappointed by the content of those statements,” city officials said.

Continue reading "Former Moline Illinois Public Library Worker Gets $1 Million for Retaliation Lawsuit" »

September 4, 2010

Chrysler Pipefitter Awarded $4.2 Million In National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit

A Rockford Illinois federal court jury found in favor of pipefitter Otto May and ordered Chrysler to pay $4.2 million to the 60-year-old. According to court testimony May endured years of harassment based on his national origin. The harassment included hateful graffiti and death threats over his Jewish and Cuban-American ethnicity. Additionally, May had his tires shredded in the parking lot by co-workers as part of the ongoing harassment. He was even denied the same overtime opportunities as other similarly situated employees.

The jury listened to the evidence for a week and awarded May $709,000 in compensatory damages and $3.5 million in punitive damages. It is nice to see someone stand up and fight back when they are being discriminated against at work. This type of discrimination at work creates a hostile work environment and makes it difficult to function.

Mr. May showed extraordinary courage and determination which paid off in the end. This case should act as a warning to companies who refuse to protect workers when they are being subjected to harassment of any kind. Congratulations Mr. May.

"I'm glad the jury believed me," said May


Continue reading "Chrysler Pipefitter Awarded $4.2 Million In National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit" »

September 2, 2010

ABM Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $5.8 Million

ABM Industries Inc., pays the large amount of $5.8 million to 21 female former employees to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts, one employee was actually raped by a supervisor while others were subjected to indecent exposure, groping, asking for sex and trading sex for promotions. This supervisor was out of control and you wonder who was managing him.

It is hard to imagion that this type of outrageous behavior and criminal activity was occuring at a place of business and top management did not know about it. This goes to show you how detached management can be from the day-to-day activities of its' business. You wonder why they call themselves management--what were they managing? In cases like this, once an investigation begins by an outside agency, the truth comes out and usually there is more than one victim. If management were doing its job, this could have been stopped with victim one and the others could have avoided all of the heartache and financial burden caused by the sexual harassment.

“We commend ABM for addressing what we found to be a grave and ominous situation for its female staff,” EEOC AttorneyPark said
September 1, 2010

Abercrombie & Fitch Sued For Religious Discrimination

Clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, Co. violated federal law when it refused to hire a Muslim job applicant because she wore a hijab (religious head scarf), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") charged in a religious discrimination lawsuit filed today.

In March 2008, the 18-year-old female applied for a job stocking merchandise at the “Abercrombie Kids” store at the Great Mall in Milpitas, Calif. In accordance with her religious beliefs, she wore a colorful headscarf to her interview. According to the EEOC, the Abercrombie & Fitch manager asked if she was Muslim and required to wear a head scarf, then marked “not Abercrombie look” on the young woman’s interview form. The EEOC’s suit alleges that Abercrombie & Fitch refused to accommodate the applicant’s religious beliefs by granting an exception to its “Look Policy,” an internal dress code that includes a prohibition against head coverings.

“This was the first job I ever applied for, and I was excited about the idea of working for Abercrombie & Fitch,” said the job applicant. “I was into fashion, and wore skinny jeans and imported scarves that matched my outfits. The interview crushed me because I never imagined anyone in the Bay Area would reject me because of my head scarf. To this day, I can't walk into Abercrombie & Fitch stores. They didn't just miss out on a hard worker, they lost a customer.”
August 31, 2010

Grays Harbor Community Hospital Sued For Sexual Harassment

Grays Harbor Community Hospital is being sued for sexual harassment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed the lawsuit on behalf of several female employees. According to allegations in the lawsuit, employee Jamie Toste repeatedly informed upper-level management that a supervising pharmacist was sexually harassing her and several other pharmacy technicians. The sexual harassment included offensive sexual comments, unsolicited discussion of his sex life and habits, showing explicit material from the Internet, and physically intrusive behavior such as approaching Toste from behind to whisper in her ear, blocking her pathway, and rubbing her back, legs and arms.

An investigation by the EEOC found the harassment of Toste escalated during 2006 and 2007, and that she felt compelled to resign after the hospital repeatedly failed to take effective corrective action to address her concerns about her safety. When an employee has to quit her job because of sexual harassment, it is referred to as a constructive discharge.

“Grays Harbor violated the law when it repeatedly failed to take action, despite numerous complaints from its employees concerning the conduct of this supervisor,” said EEOC attorney William R. Tamayo.
August 30, 2010

Pizza Pub Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $40,000

Pizza Pub pays $40,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of an 18-year old female worker. According to published accounts the manager of Pizza Pub subjected the female worker to physical touching and verbal comments of a sexual nature. The sexual harassment included telling her that he wanted to lick frosting off her body. The employee objected to his behavior but when it continued, she quit her job which is called constructive discharge.

If an employee is being sexually harassed at work and cannot escape the harassment other than quitting her job, it is the same as being fired. In this case the young woman was unable to escape the comments and physical harassment so she quit. Management needs to do a better job of training and supervising its' workers. Hopefully after paying this amount of money, the company will take the welfare of its' workers more serious.

“Teenage workers are especially vulnerable to sexual harassment in the workplace and must be protected. The EEOC will remain vigilant in its enforcement of federal laws prohibiting such discrimination in the workplace,” said Barbara A. Seely, EEOC attorney.
August 27, 2010

Allegiance Industries Settles Gender Discrimination Lawsuit For $25,000

Allegiance Industries pays $25,000 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Brenda Lowery. Lowery was a female cleaning team supervisor and she was fired because the district manager wanted a male supervisor at the cleaning site where she worked. This type of behavior is against the law and is referred to as gender discrimination.

Many times even though a company will not come right out and say we are firing you because you are a female and we want a male worker, the evidence will show that is the case. For example if you are a good worker and you are replaced by a male, there isn't much else that could be going on. In other instances gender harassment or discrimination can take the form of creating a hostile work environment. In both cases, it is important to seek legal help and fight for your rights.

“Firing someone simply because of her gender is unjust and unlawful, plain and simple,” said EEOC Attorney Robert K. Dawkins.
August 25, 2010

Hospital Sued For Sexual Harassment--Gives New Meaning To Bedside Manner

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against Garfield Medical Center alleging the hospital allowed a male worker to sexually harass an entire class of female workers. According to reports which were published, the sexual harassment included inappropriate touching and rubbing of body parts, propositions for romantic dates and sex-for-pay, graphic discussions of sexual activities, vulgar comments regarding female employees’ body parts, and even obscene comments regarding underage patients at the facility.

In an even more shocking revelation Garfield terminated an employee because she complained about the sexual harassment, while others were compelled to quit rather than endure the severely hostile work environment. When a worker is forced to quit because of a hostile work environment, it is called constructive discharge. This type of behavior by a large employer is sure to cost them plenty. I am glad the workers who are being sexually harassed decided to stand up and fight. This case will be followed closely and the results will be posted.

“The facts of this case are truly disturbing,” said Anna Y. Park, EEOC attorney. “While hospitals and health care facilities tend to focus on patient care, federal law requires them to protect their employees as well from harassment and sexual abuse.”
August 24, 2010

Racial and National Origin Lawsuit With Paramount Staffing Settles For $585,000

Paramount Staffing pays $585,000 to settle a racial discrimination and national origin discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of African American workers. According to published accounts, the company failed to hire African Americans based on their race or national origin, American; and discriminated against African American employees on the basis of race or national origin, American; and engaged in retaliation against them.

Paramount hired Hispanics in bulk in order to pay less money to their workers. This wholesale discrimination resulted in an investigation by the EEOC and this lawsuit. Paramount is based in Illinois and this type of action will not be tolerated. It is great to see workers stand up for their rights and fight for what is right. Employment lawyers can look to this case and see the large dollar amounts that are available in Illinois for cases similar to this.

Faye A. Williams EEOC attorney said, “we commend the former employee who had the courage to step forward and file a charge of discrimination under Title VII. Her action allowed the Commission to challenge the employment practice, preferring one group of employees over another based on race or national origin.”
August 23, 2010

Cheaters Television Show Pays $50,000 To Settle Sexaul Harassment Lawsuit

The companies that own and produce the Dallas-based “Cheaters” television paid $50,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of two female employees. According to published reports, two female office assistants were subjected to sexually explicit remarks and unwelcome touching from the companies’ owner and upper management for the duration of their employment.

The sexual harassment included frequent comments and jokes of a sexual nature, propositions for sex, and unwanted aggressive physical advances. One problem was there was no effective outlet for the women to complain about the behavior because members of upper management were participants in the harassment, and there was no employee handbook or policy explaining the procedure for reporting inappropriate workplace conduct at that time.

“Just because the creator of Cheaters promotes a TV show business which thrives on featuring sexual transgressions, it is no justification for engaging in sexual improprieties which violate the employment rights of his female employees behind the scenes,” said EEOC Attorney Robert A. Canino
August 20, 2010

Mercury Air Centers Gets Cleaned By EEOC and Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $600,000

Mercury Air Centers, Inc., will pay $600,000 to settle a national origin, racial and sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC'). According to allegations made by the seven victims – including one Filipino male and six Hispanic males the company tolerated large amounts of discriminatory conduct and did nothing to stop it. In one instance a Filipino line technician was regularly referred to as a “chink,” “chino,” and “stupid Chinese,” and subjected to offensive statements about Filipinos.

The alleged harasser peppered the Guatemalan workers with derogatory remarks regarding their national origin, including references to them as “stupid Guatemaltecos” and stating that Guatemalans are useless and inferior to Salvadorans. Prior to learning the actual national origin of one of the Guatemalan victims, the alleged harasser also called him a “stupid Mexican.”

“We commend Atlantic Services for taking steps to rectify the hostile work environment that persisted at Mercury Air Centers,” said Anna Park, EEOC attorney.
August 11, 2010

Illinois Human Rights Act Trumps Title VII On Sexual Harassment

In Illinois it is better to file a complaint of sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") rather than the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The reason is because the Illinois Supreme Court held that the plain language of section 2-102 (d) of the Illinois Human Rights Act imposes strict liability on employers for the hostile environment sexual harassment of employees by supervisory employees. The strict liability applies even if the supervisor has no authority to affect the terms and conditions of the employee's employment.

The Court held that it is not unfair to hold employers responsible for sexual harassment by supervisory employees because not only are supervisors the public face of the employer, but employers are in the best position to train supervisors and make them aware of the laws prohibiting sexual harassment. If you file a complaint with the EEOC, federal law will apply and you will be held to the standards of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It is a much better approach to file with the IDHR and have more employee friendly standards.

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August 10, 2010

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

I get questions all the time on whether to file a complaint for sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). I believe there are great advantages in filing with the IDHR for certain cases and advantages for filing with the EEOC on others. First, in cases that large verdicts or settlements are unlikely due to the facts of the case, I file with the IDHR. The reason is the IDHR does a faster and more thorough job of investigating cases and bringing the case to the point where it will either settle or get set for a hearing with the Illinois Human Rights Commission.

The EEOC on the other hand does a poor job of investigating charges of sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination and in my experience it takes years for them to work the file. The advantage of filing with the EEOC is if you plan on asking for a right to sue letter and filing a lawsuit in federal court. I would only do this with the cases with the best facts. As an aside when you file with the IDHR they automatically cross-file with the EEOC. The bottom line is each case has to be evaluated on its' own merits and a determination made based on the facts of the case.

August 8, 2010

Five Police Officers Receive $900,000 In Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

A jury awarded $900,000 to five black police officers in a retaliation and racial discrimination lawsuit. The jury believed the officers version of events that they had been punished for complaining about racial discrimination. According to testimony at trial the officers who worked in the vice unit, complained twice about alleged discrimination in the vice unit. However, after they complained management labeled them troublemakers and their real problems began.

Management began to retaliate by withholding information needed to do their jobs, such as the presence of armed suspects in their vicinity. Within weeks of the officers' formal complaint, all five were removed from the unit and given lesser posts which the jury viewed as retaliation. I am glad to see these officers stick up for themselves and pursue this matter until the end. Before filing their lawsuit they first had to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

August 3, 2010

Female Police Officer Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $100,000

Female police officer Jennifer Gentile settles her sexual harassment lawsuit for $100,000. According to published accounts, Gentile claims she was subjected to repeated and degrading sexual harassment after she moved from the day shift to the night shift. She claims it continued after a move to the detective bureau. Gentile said officers made commnets about her breasts and one manager even said he wanted to get in her pants.

Gentile went to great lengths to avoid coming into contact with co-workers who were sexually harassing her. She eventually asked to be moved to a different shift so she could avoid being around these men. The city did not take effective steps to stop the harassment after it was reported to top management. Now that the taxpayers have to pay this large amount I am sure management wishes it stopped the sexual harassment. In Illinois a case like this would be first filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

A police dispatcher told her he would like to "bend her over."
August 2, 2010

Restaurant Pays $170,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

A Korea-based food company, which owns a restaurant called Chilbo Myunok agreed to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $170,000. The sexual harassment allegations were against a former restaurant manager by many women who worked as waitresses.

According to the EEOC, their investigation found a class of waitresses were sexually harassed at the Chilbo Myunok restaurant. The accused manager was fired which was a good first step. However, the manager was not fired until after the EEOC got involved. In addition to the $170,000 settlement, the agreement also stipulates that all employees will receive anti-discrimination training.

July 31, 2010

Police Administrative Assistant Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $188,000

Lisa Easi, who was employed as an administrative assistant to chief deputy Terry Tichava, settled her sexual harassment lawsuit against him and the department for $188,000. According to her complaint, Tichava would touch her, make lewd comments and force her into lewd sexual positions. The sexual harassment also included sexual jokes. Easi complained to Tichava's superiors however nothing was done to stop the sexual harassment.

Easi claims she was fired after she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). This would also be referred to as retaliation. When people settle their lawsuits they don't admit liability as part of the settlement however, paying this large amount of money gives you an idea of the truth of the allegations.

July 30, 2010

Broccoli Packing Company Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $48,000

Hilltown Packing Company settles sexual harassment lawsuit for $48,000. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Filomena Ruelas and other women who worked for the company. According to published reports, Ruelas and others were sexually harassed by their supervisor and then the company engaged in retaliation when they opposed the sexual harassment.

The company which packages Broccoli denied any wrongdoing but the settlement amount should serve as evidence as to what really happened. Supervisors are in a position of authority over employees and they must act in a responsible manner. I am glad that the EEOC stepped in and held the company responsible.

“Women in the agricultural industry are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment, especially immigrant women who may not be proficient in English and are unaware of their employment rights,” said EEOC Attorney William R. Tamayo.
July 29, 2010

ServiceMaster and Terminix International Sued For Sexual Harassment

Terminix International and Service Master are being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for sexual harassment. In addition to the claims of sexual harassment the EEOC is also alleging the companies subjected their employees to a hostile work environment. In the lawsuit it is alleged that Terminix and ServiceMaster permitted a class of female employees to be repeatedly sexually harassed by a supervisor. The sexual harassment included repeated sexual comments by a supervisor directed at a class of female employees. Lawsuits like this tend to settle for big amounts because of the number of people involved.

According to published accounts a supervisor suggested to the female employees that they come to work not wearing a top. The same supervisor told the women to wear nothing but Vaseline. When you make comments like that, it is hard to plan a good defense. This supervisor also made repeated comments to female employees telling them that they could be strippers and could give him lap dances.

“Employers who subject individuals to harassment based on sex are violating federal law,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the EEOC.
July 28, 2010

Area Temps Pays $650,000 To Settle Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Area Temps will pay $650,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The discrimination lawsuit is based on age discrimination, gender discrimination, racial discrimination and national origin discrimination. It is rare to find a lawsuit that is sucessful and allegeding all four categories.

According to published accounts of the lawsuit Area Temps unlawfully complied with discriminatory requests made by its clients based on race, sex, national origin and age, and unlawfully fired two of its employees in retaliation for their opposition to Area Temps’ discriminatory practices. The company also fired one employee for participation in the EEOC’s investigation. The company that made the request of Area Temp for the discriminatory practices should also be held accountable.

“The EEOC is pleased that Area Temps joined with the agency to negotiate a fair settlement resolving this matter,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence.
July 27, 2010

Female Farmworkers Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $300,000

The Musselman Company will pay $300,000 to a class of female workers to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed the by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of the women. In court papers the EEOC alleged a class of female farmworkers was subjected to sexual harassment by male coworkers at its processing plant. The sexual harassment included lewd comments and unwanted sexual advances.

The male coworkers also used a forklift to chase women as they walked down the hall. The company wrongfully disciplined or reassigned employees in retaliation for their complaints about the abusive treatment. The EEOC was able to hold the company responsible and make them pay a significant amount of money.

"The EEOC has seen a troubling number of sexual harassment charges filed by farmworkers across the country,” said Debra Lawrence, the regional attorney of the EEOC"
July 26, 2010

Religious Discrimination Lawsuit With Marriott Hotel Settled For $40,000

The Louisville Marriott Downtown Hotel pays $40,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Published reports indicate the company failed to provide an accommdation to four Somali women of the Moslem faith by not allowing them to work while wearing their hijab which is their custom.

Laurie Young, regional attorney for the EEOC said, “Discrimination because of a person’s religion is illegal and will not be tolerated. While that should be clear by now to all employers, some of them sadly continue to ignore the law."
July 24, 2010

Ashland Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $38,000

Ashland, Inc. pays $38,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit was filed after the EEOC attempted to settle the lawsuit with the company. According to published reports, Michael Roach, who worked as a manager for Ashland, was subjected to
discrimination based on his age. The discrimination comprised of comments about his age and continued when Roach complained about the comments and nothing was done.

Ashland fired Roach because of his age in October 2006 and the EEOC filed the lawsuit shortly after that. You can see how long a lawsuit takes before it finally gets settled. This is a good reason to always try to explore settlement early.


“Age-based harassment, just like other forms of discriminatory workplace harassment, is against the law and should not be tolerated by employers,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence. “Older workers should be valued for their experience, not viewed as a liability.”

July 22, 2010

Construction Company Sued For Hostile Work Environment

Mike Enyart & Sons, a construction company is sued for racial discrimination and illegally firing an employee who complained about the conduct. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed the lawsuit on behalf of Mareo Allen an African-American. According to accounts that were published, Allen was subjected to a hostile work environment based on his race, when he worked for the company on a sewer line installation project. While working on that project co-workers and a foreman repeatedly used racially offensive slurs and epithets to Allen and other black persons, including n----r, black boy and colored boy.

The company failed to stop the discrimination and prevent the hostile work environment. In a crazy statement the company told Allen he could only stay employed if he agreed not to pursue his discrimination claims. When Allen refused to withdraw the discrimination claims, the company terminated him in retaliation for his opposition to the racial harassment.

“It is appalling that the company not only condoned the vile and offensive racial epithets made to Mr. Allen, but actually warned him that he had to drop his complaints about the racial harassment in order to keep his job,” said EEOC Attorney Debra Lawrence
July 21, 2010

Oracle Transportation Settles ADA Lawsuit For $30,000

Oracle Transcription Company pays $30,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Mary Bobik. According to published documents, Oracle denied Bobik a position as a full-time medical transcription editor even though she was well qualified. Oracle’s supervisor told Bobik that they didn’t want to stress her out with the responsibilities of a full-time position, even though she had worked at Oracle Transcription for 20 years and was regularly assigned to work more than 60 hours a week as a part-time editor.

In a case like this it is easy to prove a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") because Bobik had nearly 20 years as a medical transcriptionist and as an editor. Additionally she was physically capable and willing to perform the duties. Instead of giving her the job another person with less qualifications was given it. This is a violation of the ADA and I am glad to see Bobik get compensation from the company.

July 20, 2010

Federal Court Says No Questions About Sexual History In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

A federal district court ordered an employer to stop questioning Hispanic farm workers who filed charges of sexual harassment and retaliation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") concerning their immigration status, employment history and, in one woman’s case, her sexual history. The employer is this case was trying to kick up as much dirt as possible to distract from what was really taking place.

The Judge reasoned that the public interest would be far better served if meritorious discrimination claims were filed by immigrants regardless of their status. Another words, if people have to fear being deported or getting into immigration trouble they are less likely to come forward and complain about sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination.


July 18, 2010

Sears Settles Age Discrimination Lawsuit For $30,000

Sears will pay $30,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a 61-year old applicant who was turned down for employment. According to the lawsuit, Sears refused to hire the man into an entry-level loss prevention/asset protection position despite his qualifications and 27 years of investigative experience. This type of conduct is illegal and violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA").

This type of case is a good example of how large corporations don't believe they are accountable. This man had a ton of experience and was well qualified yet the company decided to not hire him and instead hired a less experienced and less qualified individual. Hopefully after paying this settlement and getting the unwanted attention, Sears will act different in the future.

“We are pleased that Sears worked cooperatively with the EEOC in bringing a resolution to this case,” said EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Judith G. Taylor of the EEOC.
July 17, 2010

Illinois Elks Lodge Pays $107,500 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

An Elks Lodge in Jerseyville Illinois will pay $107,500 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of three female bartendors. According to the lawsuit the club’s trustees sexually harassed the three female bartenders. Details of the claims include that three trustees made repeated unwelcome sexual advances and sexually explicit comments to three bartenders but when the women complained, they were threatened, their hours were cut and they were assigned the least desirable shifts. This type of treatment is also referred to as retaliation.

One woman was fired, and the other two felt forced to quit. When an employee feels that because of discrimination directed toward them they must quit their job, the legal term utilized to describe it is constructive discharge. As part of the settlement, the Elks Lodge also agreed to conduct sexual harassment training for Elks managers and employees and to report complaints of sex harassment made by Elks employees to the EEOC regional attorney for a period of three years

July 14, 2010

Adecco Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $62,500

Adecco settled a retaliation lawsuit that was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $62,500. According to published accounts, Adecco disciplined and fired Jeffrey A. Byard, a former office supervisor because he spoke out in support of his supervisor when she complained of sexual harassment by her boss. In sexual harassment and other discrimination cases, they people who are part of the investigation also have protections.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful to retaliate against an employee because he testified, assisted, or participated in a proceeding protected that law. I see many cases where the company retaliates against people who are involved in an internal investigation and it ends up costing the company more to settle those cases than the original case. This company needs better internal processes in place with regard to conducting a proper investigation. I bet after paying this amount of money they will put better processes in place.

“Claims of retaliation are taken very seriously by the EEOC,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, EEOC Attorney. “Employers cannot take action against employees because of their participation in employment discrimination claims, either as a witness or because the employee gave a statement, as Mr. Byard did."
July 12, 2010

Home Builder Settles Gender Discrimination and Racial Discrimination Lawsuit For $378,500

Home builder John Wieland Homes pays $378,500 and must hire at least 10 blacks and women in management positions over the next six years to settle a racial discrimination and gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The lawsuit was filed on behalf of one white woman and five black sales agents. The lawsuit was the culmination of various lawsuits and investigations into the employment practices at this place of business. It is good to final see a resolution to all of the employment law issues.

According to published reports Wieland discriminated against black sales agents by purposely sending them to specific housing subdivisions based on the race of the surrounding community. The black sales agents ended up mainly in black subdivisions which did not have the same dollars in sales as the white subdivisions. Because of this black sales agents earned less than their white counterparts. People have to be given a level playing field in order to properly compete with their counterparts.

Robert Dawkins, attorney for the EEOC, said in a statement. "This resolution provides relief to the last remaining victims of that alleged practice.”
July 10, 2010

Health Delivery Pays $45,000 To Settle EEOC Lawsuit

Health Delivery Inc. will pay $45,000 to settle an Americans With Disability Act ("ADA") lawsuit with the Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). In the lawsuit the EEOC alleged Health Delivery, Inc. unlawfully refused to return to work an employee with a record of depression even though she had completed a course of treatment and had been approved to return to work by her doctor. This was in violation of the ADA and is a form of discrimination.

The lawsuit claims Linda Perry was a capable nurse for more than five years with Health Delivery, but the company refused to return her to work after a leave of absence because of her history of major depression. This type of treatment of a good employee not only violates the law but is just bad business. Hopefully the company will undergo some serious discrimination training and treat future employees better. This year is the 45th anniverisary of the EEOC and they continue to do a great job.

“We are pleased with the relief provided by the consent decree,” said Dale Price, EEOC attorney. “It provides meaningful relief to Ms. Perry and protections for the employees of Health Delivery."
July 9, 2010

Billboard Company Pays $55,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Billboard company Trinity Products, Inc. pays $55,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a female assistant. According to the published documents in the lawsuit a high-level manager sexually harassed the assistant with offensive language and gestures. Additionally the manager asked the assistant for sexual favors.

The female rejected the advances and because of that the manager tried to replace her. She also complained about the conduct of her manager and that resulted in her discharge. Such conduct is called retaliation. It is unlawful to fire someone because they are complaining about sexual harassment. This is a classic case of the company trying to sweep a person complaining under the rug. Hoepfully the company will spend some time training its' managers and other high ranking employees on discrimination law and give them a primer on sexual harassment.

“Federal law mandates a workplace free from sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting such misconduct,” said Barbara A. Seely, attorney of the EEOC.
July 8, 2010

Exterminator Pays $80,000 To Settle Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

Terminix International pays $80,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a pregnant female employee. Terminix fired the employee after forcing her to take medical leave. Once the female became pregnant she informed management about a medical restriction against handling pesticides. The company did honor the restriction for her but for only six weeks, and then they fired her.

The company claimed they had to fire her because they did not have enough work for her to perform with the restrictions. However after firing her Terminix hired two male employees to perform reinspections that the female technician could have performed. Another words, there was work she could have performed and instead of letting her work, they chose to fire her. The EEOC could have also filed gender discrimination charges against the company because the fired a female and hired two males to take her job.

“Pregnancy discrimination charges have nearly doubled since 1992,” said Faye Williams, attorney for the EEOC. “Many employers operate on the mistaken belief that they may treat pregnant employees differently by forcing them to take medical leave and then terminating them. This settlement should place employers on notice that pregnant employees may not be singled out for termination or forced medical leave.”
July 6, 2010

Proving Your Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The only thing worst than being subjected to sexual harassment and retaliation for either reporting the sexual harassment or rejected the advances is to not be able to prove your case and therefore be left holding the bag. It is very important to have either a witness or a tangile piece of evidence that will support your allegation. I won't spend much time on the witness because if you have one, that person can speak to what happened. One thing I would say about witnesses in general are that sometimes they are reluctant to come forward because they fear for their job. The point is, sometimes you think you have witnesses but when it comes right down to it, you won't.

The next best evidence are the words from the harasser. The best way to get his words are if he leaves a voice message or is he sends you a text or email. Remember in Illinois you can't record someone without their permission. On the other hand if the person leaves a voice message, he is consenting by leaving the message so saving his message is legal and you can utilize this at trial. If your harasser sends you a text message save it and get in touch with an attorney early on so he can show you how to properly save the text message for use later on. Your case will first be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and 90% of all cases settle so there is a good chance you will never have a trial.

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July 5, 2010

Restaurant Pays $170,000 To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Chilbo Myunok USA LLC, a Korea-based food company which owns a Los Angeles restaurant and a chain of fast-food stores in Korea, pays $170,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a class of waitresses. According to published reports the waitresses were sexually harassed at the Chilbo Myunok restaurant and four of them were forced to quit to escape the harassment--this is commonly referred to as a constructive discharge. When the harassment gets too severe and a person can no longer work because of the harassment they are forced to quit and this is a separate discriminatory act that is compensatable.

Details of the lawsuit include the victims facing continuous verbal and physical sexual harassment from the restaurant's manager. The manager, who has since been fired, repeatedly subjected the women to sexual touching with a sexual device and to unwanted hugging and kissing. The EEOC many times will take up cases where there are more than one victim and they can get more bang for the buck. If there were only one waitress the chances are the EEOC would issue a right to sue letter and the waitress would be left to hire a private attorney to continue the lawsuit. In Illinois I prefer to file directly with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") which automatically cross-files with the EEOC. I believe the IDHR does a faster and more thorough job than the EEOC of investigating individual charges.

"By working with EEOC this way, Chilbo Myunok has clearly shown its commitment to making needed changes to policies and practices to ensure equal employment opportunities for all of Chilbo Myunok's employees," said EEOC's Perry.
July 3, 2010

Chicago Based Silgan Containers Settles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit For $45,000

Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corporation pays $45,000 to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of an African-American man who suffered discriminatory treatment that resulted in his termination. According to published documents Silgan intentionally delayed the hiring of Romardro Henderson and then firied him because of his race.

When Henderson was finally hired, his immediate supervisor subjected Henderson to disparate and discriminatory treatment such as holding him to a higher standard on his work than non-black employees. Silgan fired Henderson for racial reasons after less than one month on the job. The supervisor who subjected Henderson to the treatment is no longer working for the company. This case illustrates how one person can engage in discrimination and hold the company responsible. The company must do a better job training its' employees and management.

“This case demonstrates that racial discrimination in the American workplace is a serious and ongoing concern,” said John Rowe, EEOC district director in Chicago.
July 2, 2010

EPI Advanced Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $190,000

EPI Avanced a company that makes plastic injection moldings pays $190,000 to settle a sexual harassment case which was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of several female workers. According to published reports, a male supervisor and a male co-worker made sexually explicit comments and propositions toward the females workers and it even escalated into physical contact. In some instances women were grabbed and touched.

The allegations of sexual harassment were brought to the attention of management, but management failed to stop the sexual harassment. I bet after paying $190,000 management will take allegations and complaints of sexual harassment more serious in the future. It amazes me that a company could take such a neutral stance toward sexual harassment and didn't spend more time investigating the problem and fixing it. I am glad these females pursued their claim and made the company pay. Good job for hanging in there and fighting for their rights.

July 1, 2010

McGriff Industries Pays $100,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

McGriff Industries, Inc. pays $100,000 to settle a racial harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Todd Roseborough, Sr., Paul Hogan and Aaron Greenwood all African-American employees. According to details in the lawsuit employees and managers used racially derogatory comments, slurs, and insults directed at African-Americans employees. The racial misconduct escalated to threats and intimidation, including a derogatory threat to cut one of the black employees.

Both white and black employees were offended by the racial harassment but were retaliated against when they complained. In once instance an employee was terminated when he complained about the discrimination that was taking place. This type of behavior by a large company is outrageous. These individuals hung in there and fought for their rights and in the end they prevailed. Hopefully, the company will not wish to dole out this kind of money in the future and will better train employees on the proper work behavior.

“This case is important because no employee should be subject to racism in the workplace and every employee can be offended by a racially hostile work environment,” said EEOC Birmingham District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas.
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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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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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
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."
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.”
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."
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
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.“
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.


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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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.
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.”
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.

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.
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.”
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.

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.
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.
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
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."
May 31, 2010

Dollins Construction Pays $15,000 To Settle Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

According to the lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") the Dollins Construction company punished black workers for complaining about a noose display and racist statements. According to the lawsuit Dollins violated federal law by racially harassing three African American construction workers and then engaging in retaliation against them when one complained.

Apparently the racial discrimination included the use of racially charged comments and the display of a noose. After they complained about the racial harassment they were not sent out on any further jobs, which is retaliation. As part of the settlement they will receive $15,000. Not only does this type of behavior cost the company money but I am sure it will cost them business with people who do not want to hire a company that allows this type of activity to take place.

“No matter how small an employer may be or how limited its resources, the EEOC will use the full measure of the law to eradicate racist displays from any place of employment,” said EEOC District Director James R. Neely, Jr.
May 30, 2010

Orkin Pest Control Getting Rid Of More Than Pests: Sued By EEOC For Discrimination

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a religious discrimination lawsuit on behalf of a Thomas Kokezas claiming he was discriminated against because he wasn't a certain religion and because of his age. Additionally the EEOC said Orkin engaged in retaliation against an applicant who complained to the company’s corporate headquarters about the alleged discrimination.

The age discrimination lawsuit claims Orkin discriminated during the hiring process against Thomas Kokezas, as well as a class of individuals based on their age, over 40, or religion, non-Mormon. The lawsuit alleges Orkin advertised on Craig’s List for a recruiter to assist in hiring LDS missionaries for seasonal employ­ment and stating that the summer position was great for re