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 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
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
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
April 21, 2012

Chicago Employment Discrimination Tips For Workers

So you are working in downtown Chicago and now after doing such a great job you now have a problem. You are the victim of what you perceive to be employment discrimination and you don't know what to do. In Chicago, discrimination in the workplace is governed by the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act"). The Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") is tasked with investigating claims of discrimination under the Act. My office regularly practices at the IDHR and having an experienced attorney discuss your options is a good first start. There are many nuances during the investigation process that can mean the difference between your case being taken to the next level. In this case the next level would be for a trial at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). The IHRC is where an administrative law judge either finds in your favor or against you. If she finds in your favor you can collect lost wages, attorney fees, and money for emotional distress.

It is very important that you properly document what is taking place at work if you believe you are the victim of employment discrimination. Some types of documentation are emails, text messages, voice messages, the names of witnesses and items like performance reviews. If the boss gives you great performance reviews prior to the discrimination and then you get fired, it would seem obvious that you are the victim of retaliation and the paper trail of performance reviews would be great evidence. My office never charges to discuss your employment related discrimination case. Protect yourself at work and don't let the company's lawyers and human resource personnel dictate your rights.

April 4, 2012

Standard For A Sexual Harassment Complaint In Chicago

You work in downtown Chicago in the Loop and you love your job. Your work seems to be going rather well and you get great reviews and evaluations. However, there is now a sudden problem. Your boss keeps making semi-sexual comments and seems to be taking a rather personal interest in you. He seems to stop by your desk more than he should, he asks about matters outside of work and his tone is more flirtatious than business. He is now trying to meet you outside of work for pretend business reasons and you don't know what to do. Because he is your boss there is strict liability on the company for sexual harassment if this rises to sexual harassment. These facts may be enough to rise to the level of sexual harassment in Chicago and in the rest of Illinois.

In order to rise to the level of sexual harassment in Illinois under the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act"), the sexual harassment has to be unwanted and purvasive. That standard is subjective and based on the facts of each individual case. Does the boss have a business reason for his actions? Is he taking similar actions with male employees or other females? Is there a reason he has to see you outside of business or is this just a pretext? If you believe you are the victim of sexual harassment in Chicago, my office can file a complaint of sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). Under the Act, the IDHR is tasked with investigating complaints of sexual harassment and other forms of employment law discrimination. It is very important to file right away because there are strict time limits that apply and failure to meet those deadlines can adversely affect your legal rights.

March 30, 2012

Chicago Sexual Orientation Cases Can Be Filed At The Illinois Department of Human Rights

If you are the victim of sexual orientation discrimination in Chicago you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). There is an important time filing requirement that can't be missed. In Illinois you have 180 days from the date of the last act of discrimination to file your complaint with the IDHR. If you miss this time limit you will be barred from filing a sexual orientation complaint with the IDHR. I suggest you meet with an experienced employment discrimination lawyer to discuss the facts of your case.

Many times sexual orientation discrimination may be subtle. Another words, the boss may not come out and make nasty comments but may discriminate against you in the following ways. First, he may deny you a promotion even though you have superior qualifications. Second, he may discipline you in a way that non-gay employees are disciplined. And lastly, he may not give you the best work and relegate you to menial tasks based only on your sexual orientation not based on your job skills.

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 27, 2012

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Settles For $6 Million

Aaron's Inc. has settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with a former employee for $6 million. This was a wild employment discrimination case that had many twists and turns. According to published accounts the female employee claimed she was sexually harassed by a former manager in 2006. You can see how long these cases take before any money changes hands if the case goes all the way to trial. In this case the lawsuit went to trial in 2011 and a jury awarded $95 million to the woman. Of course the company appealed saying the award was excessive.

The judge then lowered the judgment against Aaron's to $39.8 million because the damages exceeded the maximum allowed by law. The lower award was then appealed and the case could have ended up in future litigation for many years. The parties decided to end the case and settled for $6 million. This happens often in large awards. The plaintiff just wants to get some money in her pocket now, and the company doesn't want to risk having the large award sustained and wants to end the large legal bills. In this case Aarons set aside over $35 million for payout and legal fees. You can see how expensive these cases can be.

March 22, 2012

Taking An Employment Discrimination Case To the Illinois Human Rights Commission

The Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") located in downtown Chicago and in Springfield Illinois is a cost-effective way to proceed with your employment discrimination case. Many times cases will come up that don't warrant filing in state or federal court because of low damages. Determining which venue to take a discrimination claim is fact specific and an experienced employment attorney can help with this calculation. One factor to keep in mind is whether or not you wish to have a jury trial. At the IHRC, an administrative law judge will hear the case and you can't have a jury trial. However, in state or federal court you may elect to have a jury trial.

One advantage of a jury trial is emotion can sway a juror to award a large amount in damages. Whereas a judge is more likely to stick to the facts and not let emotion rule the day. An advantage of a trial in front of the judge is if you have strong facts you don't have to worry about the judge missing them. A jury may get caught up in the trial and miss important facts. So there are pros and cons to taking your employment discrimination claim in front of the IHRC.

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.

January 31, 2012

No Upfront Costs For Chicago Sexual Harassment Cases

I am always amazed when I walk into the waiting area of the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") at the Thompson Center in Chicago and see people filing out paperwork by themselves. Most of them don't realize that they could have an employment attorney working for them for basically free. My Chicago office doesn't charge unless you recover some money so in affect you are getting me for free. Just think how much stress this would take off of you and what a feeling of relief knowing you have someone with real experience helping you. I know how important your sexual harassment or other discrimination case is to you. Don't go it alone and chance losing your case.

If going it alone with the IDHR isn't bad enough, when I go to the Chicago office of the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IHRC") I see even more people who are going it alone. This is very bad because the other side will have an attorney and this puts you at a real disadvantage. Do you really think you can go one-on-one with an experienced employment discrimination attorney ? And if you can get an attorney for contingency fee, why would you want to try? My Chicago offices never charges a fee to discuss your employment case. Do the right thing and call for a free consultation. Don't go it alone.

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.

November 1, 2011

Illinois Department Of Human Rights Staff Cuts

The Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) is having budget issues and recently laid off employees. This means that the investigative phase of the agency will be slowed. The agency is mandated by law to complete an investigation into sexual harassment and other forms of employment discrimination within one year from the date of filing a charge. This is going to be very difficult now that there have been substantial layoffs.

The good news for plaintiffs lawyers is that the cases can perhaps get fast tracked and end up at the Illinois Human Rights Commission (“IHRC”) faster. After all the IHRC is where the money will be made because the IDHR only has the authority to issue a finding of substantial evidence or lack thereof. The IHRC on the other had can issue a monetary judgment. I will keep readers up to date on what is happening at the IDHR and if there will be further layoffs.

October 10, 2011

Taxes And A Sexual Harassment Settlement

This question comes up quite often in my Chicago office. I am going to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit and the client wants to know if the settlement is tax free? The short answer to that question is no. Unlike a personal injury, workers compensation or wrongful death case, an employment law case is generally subject to tax liability. The reasoning is as follows. In a personal injury case, the person is being compensated for a physical injury and the money is to make them physically whole. So if you lost your thumb, the money you get is to make up for the lost thumb because you will go the rest of your life without the thumb.

In a sexual harassment lawsuit or other case involving employment discrimination, the money is usually for lost wages and benefits. The Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") has published literature available regarding the taxation of employment related cases. I always tell clients to seek the advice of a C.P.A or other financial professional regarding your tax issues. There is a caveat to the taxation of employment settlements and that is if a portion is attributed to medical bills or a physical injury that is the result of the sexual harassment.

October 9, 2011

Sexual Orientation Discrimination and Social Media

Many corporations today employ an Internet search of prospective job applications as part of the employment process. Typically someone from human resources will do a Google search for the prospective employees name and see what is "out there" regarding the prospective employee. I believe this is a very dangerous and unwise practice and opens the corporation up to discrimination claims that would otherwise not exist. Lets take the following example. A gay man applies for a job and obviously his sexual orientation is not known at the time of his employment application. The corporation then conducts an Internet search and finds his Facebook page. Upon reviewing the Facebook page, the human resources representative sees picture of the applicant with his gay male boyfriend. Lets further say that the gay man doesn't get the job he applied for. What's the big deal you say? Well employment law may end up making the corporation wish it didn't engage in this practice.

Well, the gay man may now file a sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit based on not being hired because he is gay. If the corporation never did the Internet search this claim would not exist because the corporation could say we had no idea the man was gay. However, once they "snoop" on the Internet and find out he is gay, the corporation is now in a position where they knew the man was gay when they made their employment decision. This allows the gay man to file a discrimination charge based on sexual orientation with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). So I believe it is a bad idea for corporations to conduct background type checks on the Internet for prospective employees.

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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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
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.
April 28, 2010

Union Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $80,000

The Maryland Classified Employees Association ("MCEA") union pays $80,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Oppor­tunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Gail Tate-Buntin. According to the lawsuit Buntin was involved in an EEOC investigation based on allegations of another employee, Michele Handy. Buntin claims she suffered retaliation because she was truthful during the investigation and the company did not like what she witnessed.

According to the lawsuit MCEA denied a promotion to Handy and subjected her to discriminatory terms and conditions of employment because she filed a discrimin­ation complaint with the EEOC. This is a classic case of an employee minding her own business and being brought into an investigation and then having something negative happen to her. Employers would be wise to look at this case and develope employment practices that don't violate the rights of its' employees.

“Title VII depends for its enforcement upon the cooperation of employees who are willing to oppose or report employment discrimination,” said EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
March 8, 2010

Firefigher Settles Employment Discrimination Lawsuit For $150,000

Steven Napolitano agreed to settle his employment discrimination lawsuit with the Omaha Airport Authority for $150,000 and as part of the agreement they must reinstate him. In the lawsuit Napolitano alleged he was fired after refusing to support the airport fire chief's claims against Napolitano's captain. The main issue was that the captain was accused of falsifying training records for Napolitano and other firefighters.

It is very tough to assert your rights in the workplace. Napolitano in this case was not afraid to stand up to management and as a result he has a nice payday plus he has his job as a firefighter back. Employment discrimination is a very broad term and covers many different types of discrimination. There are many remedies available for employees who believe they have been discriminated against. There are also very strict time limits, also called statutes of limitation that must be followed. It is very important to act quickly to protect your rights and available remedies.

Napolitano also told the chief that “the firefighters would not be intimidated into making false statements.”
December 30, 2009

Outback Steakhouse Pays $19 Million To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Outback Steakhouse settled a gender discrimination lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for $19 million. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of over a thousand female employees in restaurants throughout the country. The lawsuit alleges that Outback Steakhouse unlawfully discriminated against female employees by treating the females different from male employees. In the legal industry this is known as discrimination based on terms and conditions of employment. The female employees were denied equal opportunities for advancement within the company.

When this happens to female employees it is known as the glass ceiling. The glass ceiling at a corporation takes place when females cannot get promoted to the higher-level profit-sharing management positions within an organization. In this case the female employees at Outback Steakhouse were not able to advance into upper management where the lucrative jobs are. In this particular case, the EEOC claimed females were denied favorable job assignments, including kitchen management experience. This is important because without experience in those positions employees were unable to make it into top management. If you look at the management profile of most corporations, they are still made up of white males.

“There are still too many glass ceilings left to shatter in workplaces throughout corporate America,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “The EEOC will continue to bring class lawsuits like this one against employers who engage in gender discrimination on a systemic scale. Hopefully this major settlement will remind employers about the perils of perpetuating promotion practices that keep women from advancing at work.”

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December 24, 2009

Allstate Pays $4.5 Million To Settle Age Discrimination Lawsuit

Allstate Insurance company settled an age discrimination lawsuit the the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ('EEOC") for $4,500,000. The lawsuit was filed by the EEOC on behalf of 90 claimants. The EEOC alleged that Allstate violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). Allstate which is based in Illinois is said to have treated a class of older workers negatively during a companywide reorganization. In particular Allstate adopted a plan called Preparing For The Future Reorganization Program. The program was part of Allstate’s reorganization from employee agents to what the company considered independent contractors. That program had a disproportionate impact on employees over the age of 40 because more than 90 percent of the agents subjected to the hiring moratorium were 40 years of age or older.

Of course Allstate denied that its hiring moratorium violated the ADEA, however the $4.5 million dollar settlement says different. Companies cannot institute policies that disproportionately affect older workers. There are many reasons why companies would like to get rid of older workers, namely they can pay younger workers less money, and younger workers are less likely to have large medical bills. Also, younger workers are less likely to challenge the policies of a company.

“We at the EEOC are now bringing more and more lawsuits like this one to challenge company-wide policies or practices which discriminate against a large number of workers,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “Make no mistake: As this settlement shows, we will insist on significant compensation and meaningful injunctive relief to resolve these cases.”

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September 21, 2009

EEOC Report Shows Increase in Discrimination Lawsuits

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") released its' report for 2008 and it shwos there were 16,752 complaints alleging employment discrimination– up 2.4 percent from the prior year. These complaints are allegations against government agencies only and do not include complaints against private companies. The complaints were filed against federal agencies on the basis of retaliation, gender, race, national origin, religion and age.

Other interesting statistics in the report include of 7,538 cases closed on the merits, 2.5% resulted in findings of unlawful discrimination. Both parties entered into settlements in 19.5 % or 3,249 complaints. Agencies awarded a total of over $50 million in monetary benefits to complainants for unlawful discrimination.

“Federal agencies must step up their efforts to improve complaint processing time, while also focusing on quality results,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “

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September 11, 2009

Disabled Women Gets $275,000 in Lawsuit Settlement

The state of Wisconsin will pay $275,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by Wendy Sturz a parole agent who resigned in 2005. Sturz suffers from a degenerative joint disease that makes it hard for her to walk and stand without pain. Sturz worked in as a probation and parole agent since 1993 and had received positive performance reviews. In increasing pain, she requested accommodations in 2003 to reduce the stress on her weakening knees, elbows, shoulders and ankles. Sturz claimed the state violated the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The department rejected her requests to reduce her number of home visits, took more than a year to install an electric door so she could get through on a scooter, and rejected her request to work from home in bad weather. The department also did not make sure the sloped office parking lot was clear of snow, which meant Sturz fell on numerous occasions.

"A reasonable jury could find that plaintiff's conditions were objectively intolerable as a result of defendant's failure to accommodate her," Crabb wrote. "An employee should not have choose between her job and her health."

The state will pay Sturz, of Ellsworth, $171,000 in back pay and damages under the settlement. Her attorneys will receive $104,000.

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September 6, 2009

Restaurant Worker Sues For Sexual Harassment After Hot Dog Used in Lewd Gesture

A Taxi's Restaurant worker, Joanne Cole was was sexually assualted by a male co-worker who used hot dogs in lewd gestures simulating fornication and she was bitten by the co-worker until she bled. The lawsuit by Cole alleges sexual harassment, sexual assault, discrimination and retaliation. The lawsuit alleges that while she worked for Taxi’s Hamburgers in Dublin California, she was subjected to ongoing sexual harassment, sexual assault and discrimination, and upon complaining of the unlawful behavior, nothing was done.

The lawsuit alleges that a Taxi’s supervisor directly observed Joanne Cole being assaulted by another co-worker who was by biting her lips and back while she fought him off telling him to stop. The supervisor did nothing after seeing the assault occur and instead turned his attention back to the television program he was watching.

The allegations state that Ms. Cole was subjected to lewd and lascivious gestures by other male employees including gesturing to their penises to simulate masturbation and holding a hotdog to their lower extremities as if it was a penis and gesturing to female employees. Ms. Cole was also repeatedly bitten on the lips and back by another male co-worker. Taxi’s Hamburgers took no action. Officers from the Dublin police department ultimately arrested the former co-worker.

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August 19, 2009

St. Louis Rams Get Tackled By EEOC And Pay $134,000 To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

The St. Louis Rams settled an Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") involving disability discrimination for $134,000 and important remedial relief on behalf of Ron DuBuque, a long-term employee with a seizure disorder. DuBuque, who had been an assistant trainer with the team for 11 years before he was terminated, had epilepsy during his entire employment. DuBuque and the EEOC alleged that he had successfully performed his job until the Rams' management, in June 2006, claimed he was a medical liability and posed a threat to his own safety and that of coworkers. DuBuque was diagnosed with trauma-induced epilepsy in 1984, more than a decade before working for the Rams.

Under the terms of the consent decree the Rams will pay a total of $134,000 to settle the case – including emotional distress damages of $100,000 and a $34,000 contract in which DuBuque will be engaged as a Rehabilitation Specialist for two years. The decree also requires the team to provide training on the ADA to managers and supervisors of the Rams. These types of discrimination cases violate the civil rights act of 1964.

“As this case and many others show, disability does not mean inability,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “All employers should make workplace decisions based on merit and qualifications to do the job, rather than on myths, fears, or stereotypes associated with a person’s disability.”


August 13, 2009

EEOC Files Reverse Discrimination Lawsuit

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed a lawsuit against Propak Logistics alleging reverse discrimination. According to the lawsuit, from October 1, 2002, through June 30, 2004, based Propak Logistics, Inc. engaged in unlawful employment practices by refusing to hire an entire class of people for non-management positions at its Shelby, N.C., facility because of their non-Hispanic national origin. The complaint said that the company hired predominantly Latinos to the exclusion of equally or more qualified non-Latinos--this is also known as reverse discrimination.

This type of discrimination is national origin discrimination and it is usually filed against companies for not hiring minorities but the door swings both way. A company cannot discriminate against any group based on race or national origin. If a company does discrimination based on national origin, the employee is protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Discrimination based on national origin is simply illegal, regardless of the background of the victims or the beneficiaries of that misconduct,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru.
“This case represents the unfortunate reality that some employers are willing to discriminate against one racial or cultural group in favor of another,” said Lynette Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office.

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July 28, 2009

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

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

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

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

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


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July 26, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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July 21, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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July 19, 2009

Morristown Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For Almost $1 Million

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

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

July 14, 2009

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

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

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

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

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July 10, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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June 28, 2009

United States Supreme Court Gives Union Workers The Shaft

The United States Supreme Court in 14 Penn Plaza LLC v. Pyett, 129 S. Ct. 1456 (2009) by a 5-4 vote held that a provision in a collective bargaining agreement ("Agreement") which clearly and unmistakeably requires employees to arbitrate their statutory discrimination claims is enforceable and precludes employees from asserting their statutory claims in state or federal courts. In laymans terms what this means is that if you are in a union and through bargaining the union agrees to settle all employment claims through arbitration, your sole remedy as a union employee is to arbitrate the claim. You will be forever barred from filing a claim in any federal or state court.

This decision does not affect employees who are not in a union as they have not bargained through their representatives the terms of their employment. The types of claims involved could include sexual harassment, gender discrimination, age discrimination, racial discrimination. Americans with Disabilities, age discrimination, religious discrimination, retaliation claims and sexual orientations claims.

The Court did hold that the Agreement to arbitrate must be "clear and unmistakable". One issue the Court did not address is what happens if the Union does not take the employees claim to arbitration? There are two ways to interpert the Court's decision in Pyett, one the employee would have no further remedy or in that case the employee court take the case to state or federal court, however the latter seems less likely under Pyett.

June 8, 2009

Menards Ordered To Pay $1.5 Million To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Dawn Sands, former vice-president and executive general counsel of Menard Inc. was awarded $1.5 million in back pay and damages and rehired at a higher salary according to an arbitration agreement. The case started when Sands was earning $70,000 and she complained, prompting the company to terminate her employment. She filed a lawsuit claiming gender discrimination and retaliation.

Menards appealed the arbitration award and on April 14, 2009 the Wisconsin Third District Court ruled against Menards and upheld the arbitration award. The Court also found Menards in contempt for not rehiring sands and scheduled another hearing to determine damages.

Laws in Illinois provide that gender discrimination occurs if a company terminates or otherwise take an adverse job action against an employee because of the sex of the employee. A companies policies and employment rules must be applied equally to all employees. Policies and employment rules which have a disproportionately adverse impact on one sex are strictly prohibited under both Illinois and Federal law. In short, if you are a female and have the same qualifications of a man and do the same job but get less money you may have a gender based discrimination claim.

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May 26, 2009

Damages In A Sexual Harassment Case

Although the title suggests damages in a sexual harassment case, these damages are also available in most discrimination cases.
1. Economic Damages--consist of back and front pay plus incidentals. Included in this calculation are benefits. Back pay is the amount of money equal to wages an employee would have earned, including all benefits from the date of discharge through the date of final judgment. Front pay is an amount of money equal to wages and benefits the employee will lose in the future because of a lower paying job or no job at all. Incidentals may be relocation costs, education costs for retraining and costs for tools if required at a new position.

2. Emotional Distress Damages--There is new specific formula for this calculation and there are many factors to consider including, the credibility of the employee, length of employment, believeability of witnesses, prior or pre-existing similar injuries, nature and extent of counseling or other medical treatment, and strength of the underlying case.

3. Punitive Damages--Under Title VII and ADA violations punitive damages may be awarded. In order to recover the employee must prove the employer engaged in a discriminatory practice or discriminatory practices with malice or with reckless indifference to the federally protected rights of the employee, but also that liability for the punitive damages should be imputed to the employer.

4. Attorneys' Fees--All federal anti discrimination statutes and those in Illinois provide for the recovery of attorney fees by the prevailing party. Discretion as to the amount is up to the Judge.

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May 13, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Yellow Pages

A Valley Yellow Pages employee, Lori Gardner, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her supervisor David Golla, alleging that he repeatedly asked her to take photos of her breasts in order to leave work early and talked about what it would be like to have sex with other employees. The lawsuit against employee David Golla and AGI Publishing Inc., which publishes Valley Yellow Pages, alleges sexual harassment, discrimination in employment and retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract.

According to papers filed in the lawsuit, Gardner, an account executive alleges Golla, her supervisor, created a hostile working environment by repeatedly commenting about her breasts throughout the day for months. Gardner also alleges that Golla tried to kiss her and reached into her blouse and grabbed her breast.

“He would regularly comment on the bodies of women, making statements like ‘Look at the udders on that one’ or ‘Look at those, nice …’ ” according to the lawsuit.

Gardner also alleges that when she resisted Golla’s advances, he threatened to take her job away, threw materials on the desk and spoke harshly to her. Gardner repeatedly reported the sexual harassment but nothing of substance was done to stop it according to the lawsuit.


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April 30, 2009

Female Stock Brokers Settle Gender Discrimination Case For $33 Million

Four female stock brokers sued Citigroup Global Markets Inc. alleging gender discrimination. So, Varner, Orlando and Amochaev, all earned less than their male counterparts and had fewer assets to manage and fewer opportunities to earn more income. The females complained to the company's human resources department about the firms discrimination actions.

The four females filed a lawsuit alleging Citi intentionally maintains policies that lock in, perpetuate, and increase gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e and California Civil Rights Laws. So also alleged race discrimination under Title VII.

Citi responded that there was no difference in treatment between the male and female employees. The parties settled before trial for $33 million plus interest. Citi also agreed to institute several anti-discrimination policies.

April 28, 2009

Illinois Supreme Court Rules on Sexual Harassment Case

The Illinois Supreme Court overturned an appellate court deceision and ruled the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Department is liable for damages and legal costs in a sexual harassment case. The case was sent back to the Illinois Human Rights Commission to determine the amount of damages. The case stems from actions in 1998 involving Sgt. Ron Yanor and Donna Feleccia Scroggin. In that case Scroggin alleged Yanor invited her to accompany him to a bar, showed up at her house uninvited, and forced her to kiss him.

Scroggin’s attorney, Mary Lee Leahy, said the court’s decision will force employers to take more initiative when it comes to curbing sexual harassment.

The Illinois Human Rights Commission initially awarded Scroggin $10,000 in damages and her attorney $13,400 in legal costs.

In the majority opinion, Justice Anne Burke wrote that “the evidence of the forged letter, together with the other conduct proved by Feleccia, was sufficient to establish a hostile working environment.”
April 10, 2009

Illinois Supreme Court Update--Illinois Human Rights Act Doesn't Bar Federal and State Claims

The Illinois Supreme Court held in Blount v. Stroud, 2009 WL 153862 (Ill Sup Ct. 2009) that the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") doesn't preclude employees who file a claim under the Human Rights Act from bringing other claims based on common law, or federal statutes in state court.

Background

Jerri Blount filed a multicount complaint in Cook County Circuit Court against her former employer Jovon Broadcasting Corporation and the owner and general manager. The two counts of interest to his analysis were her common law retaliatory discharge and retaliation under 42 USC Section 1981. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss claiming the Act precluded her from filing in the circuit court. The court rejected the motion to dismiss and she was ultimately awarded over $3 million dollars by a jury. The appellate court reversed holding the Act deprives Illinois Courts of subject matter jurisdiction. The Illinois Supreme Court heard the case and ruled that whether facts giving rise to a civil rights violation as defined under state law might also give rise to a civil rights violation under definitions found in federal statutes was not relevant and Blount had a right to pursue her claim under federal law in state circuit court.

April 1, 2009

Illinois Schnucks Employee Files Age Discrimination Lawsuit

Gary Rittenhouse had worked for the Belleville Schnucks Markets from Aug. 15, 1977, until his termination on May 15, 2007, according to the complaint filed Feb. 27 in St. Clair County Circuit Court. Rittenhouse, 44, alleges he was wrongfully terminated from his employment as an assistant manager because of his age--which is age discrimination. Rittenhouse began working for the company as a bagger and eventually worked his way up to assistant manager.

Because of his termination, Rittenhouse lost income, suffered a diminution in his employability and suffered humiliation and severe emotional distress that required medical and professional treatment, according to the complaint, which is in St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-109.

"At the time of his termination, Rittenhouse was doing the job well enough to meet the employer's reasonable expectations," the suit states. "Rittenhouse was discharged in whole or in material part because of his age."

Rittenhouse is seeking a judgment in an amount that will fully compensate him, plus attorney's fees, costs and other relief the court deems appropriate.

March 22, 2009

Seattle court sexual harassment case settled for $135,000

A former Seattle Municipal Court worker is getting $135,000 to settle a sexual harassment case involving a judge. According to the settlement agreement half the money will be paid by the taxpayers and half by Judge Ron A. Mamiya. The former courthouse worker is not identified in court documents and it appears the relationship started as a consensual affair last year. The former staff member, a mother of two, says Mamiya repeatedly made unwanted advances after they agreed to break off the affair-which constituted a hostile work environment.

In February 2008, the two began a sexual relationship, meeting at a hotel in Seattle and another hotel near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, she said. He also visited her in her court office in the late afternoon and would kiss her and touch her sexually. Mamiya became jealous when he saw her talking to other men at work according to the Seattle Times.

Mamiya has been a Municipal Court judge since 1981. He released a statement acknowledging what he calls "my horrible lapse in judgment."

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March 20, 2009

Over 100 Female Prison Employees File Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

In Florda 111 female employees filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Corrections, alleging they were subject to constant sexual harassment from male inmates. The women who are mostly nurses, said while they made their rounds, male inmates used graphic language and masturbated toward them. 'The conduct is so hostile, notorious and commonplace that it is referred to by prison staff and inmates alike as 'gunning,' '' according to the complaint.

The lawsuit alleges a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 of the 111 current and former employees and their' right to be free from sexual discrimination and harassment. The woman are alleging the creation of a hostile work environment.

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March 14, 2009

Board of Education Settles Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit for $125,000

Joni Kane, the Vineland New Jersey School district's public information assistant, alleged she was placed in a hostile work environment, denied appropriate promotions and pay increases, and sexually harassed by John Sbrana and the school district.

According to the lawsuit, Kane joined the communications office in December 1997 as a part-time clerk after being interviewed by Sbrana. A month into Kane's employment, Sbrana began making sexual advances toward her and sent suggestive e-mails to her private account. Several times during 1998, Sbrana made excuses to show up at Kane's home after hours. Kane claims in retaliation for spurring Sbrana's advances she was told she would be working holidays, evenings and weekends without overtime.

Most board members object to how the sexual harassment case was handled from the moment it was first reported in 2006 through the subsequent legal investigation, according to the DailyJournal.com
The Vineland Board of Education decided to settle the lawsuit rather than risk a potential large judgment.
March 12, 2009

Niner Winery Owner Denies Sexual Harassment Charge

Winery owner Dick Niner testified at the sexual harassment trial that sexual advances from Tammi Herron a former employee alleging he sexually harassed her never happened. Pam Niner, Dick's wife also testified that Herron used her “feminine wiles” to advance in their Paso Robles-based company, and that Herron acted in a pandering manner toward her husband when she visited the couple at their Jackson Hole Wyoming home.

Herron’s lawsuit alleges that Pam Niner and Mike Musso, general manager for Niner Wine Estates, tried to force her out of her job when Pam Niner realized her husband had more than a professional interest in the employee. Herron only worked four months as a sales representative before resigning and filing her lawsuit. Herron claims Dick Niner told her he loved her while they were at the bar of the San Luis Obispo restaurant Koberl at Blue. She also alleged he tried to negotiate to see her more frequently, and then later kissed her with an open mouth twice in her car as she dropped him off at the Niner Wine Estate office.

“The events didn’t happen. … I’m loyal to my wife. I have been for 37 years,” Niner said.
Pam Niner said Herron was one of those women who too often use their feminine wiles to get jobs and advancement.

Herron claimed in her lawsuit that her work environment changed and became a hostile work environment after she stayed as a guest in the Niners’ Wyoming home. Dick Niner paid for her and her children’s round-trip flights, sponsored Herron’s daughter at a Wyoming summer camp and offered Herron a place to stay for a week.

March 11, 2009

Neurosurgeon Awarded $1.6 Million in Sex Discrimination Lawsuit

A federal jury of seven men and two women awarded Dr. Sagun Tuli, a Brigham and Women's Hospital neurosurgeon, $1.6 million in her sex discrimination lawsuit against the hospital and against the chairman of her department, Dr. Arthur Day. According to the jury Tuli was subjected to a hostile work environment at the hospital where she has worked for more than six years and the hospital retaliated against her for complaining about the hostile work environment.

Tuli said Day continually made demeaning statements to her while she was operating, telling her during one surgery in May 2007,

"You are just a girl. Are you sure you can do that?''

The lawsuit was filed in December 2007 in Boston case number 2007cv12338.

March 8, 2009

Attorney Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against States Attorney

Brenda Keys, a Florida attorney filed a complaint against the State Attorney’s Office for the 14th Judicial Circuit, on allegations of sexual harassment, hostile work environment sexual harrassment, and retaliation. These allegations regard specific incidents between Keys and former State Attorney, Steve Meadows. Keys claims that Meadows demoted her and cut her bonus in half once he learned she was helping other co-workers file sexual harassment complaints against him. According to the report, Meadows says Keys’ work was poor. However the Florida Human Relations Commission findings claim that a recent review rated Keys as stellar.

One of the findings relating to hostile work environment sexual harassment includes allegations of Meadows having sex with an employee in his private office. The commission says Meadows had no credible evidence to refute these allegations. Steve Meadows told News 13 he and the woman involved in this situation dated for a brief period in 2005, it was a consensual relationship with a history of more than 10 years and that she has not filed any complaints.

March 5, 2009

Discrimination Lawsuit Filed Against Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Lodge

Five former employees of Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Lodge in Utica Illinois, Leno Campbell, Suzanne Czarnecki, Michael DeLap, Mark Low and Lisa Meyers filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming sexual harassment, racial discrimination and gender discrimination. The lodge's owners are Joseph Hook, Keith and Susan Wolick. The lawsuit also alleges the owners fostered an environment in which sexual harassment of female employees by the male owners was common.

Campbell, an african-american, was the lodge's director of housekeeping and is claiming the owners discriminated against him because of his race including that Wolick often made remarks critical of blacks to other employees and to Campbell himself. Czarnecki the former resort's revenue manager, and Meyers a former reservationist are claiming they were discriminated against because they were women and also allege Hook made sexual remarks and committed assault and battery against them, in that he made physical contact of a sexual nature without their consent.


The resorts attorney Mike Moody had this to say about the lawsuit:

"After an exhaustive investigation by the (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) in which Grand Bear cooperated and steadfastly defended against these false charges, the EEOC terminated its investigation and filed no charges against Grand Bear. Grand Bear has every confidence that it will be vindicated in a court of law and denies that it discriminated against anyone in any way."

However, Plaintiff's attorney Erika Pedersen responded by stating:

““The EEOC terminated its investigation of the claims against Grand Bear only because we, the plaintiffs, asked it to. We wanted to advance the litigation to federal court so we asked the EEOC to issue our clients their Notices of Right to Sue, which it is obligated to do. The EEOC made no finding either way and nothing about that process can or should be interpreted as a reflection on the merits of the claims or defenses. The allegations are very disturbing and serve as a reminder that sexual and racial harassment are still significant problems for many employees in this country. Each of our clients hopes that by bringing these claims, the working environment becomes better for current and future employees of Grand Bear and elsewhere.”

By way of background victims of discrimination must first file with the EEOC before they can file in court. In this case it was the intention of the Plaintiffs to proceed to federal court rather than wait for the EEOC to complete its investigation, which can take years. The Plaintiffs fulfilled their obligation by filing charges first with the EEOC and once they exhausted the administrative process, proceeded to court by filing their lawsuit.

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February 24, 2009

Trash Removal Company Pays $475,000 to Settle EEOC Sex Discrimination Lawsuit

Robertson Sanitation, a Phoenix-based trash hauling, recycling and disposal company that operates in Georgia, will pay $475,000 to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

According to the lawsuit, Jeanine Moore applied for a truck driver position with Robertson at its Winder, Georgia facility in August 2005, was never interviewed or hired even though she was more qualified than a number of male applicants who were hired. A review of the job applications at that location between January 2005 and September 2006 showed that some of the men hired were less qualified than Moore, including six males who lacked Robertson's minimum qualifications for the truck driver position. The EEOC's investigation revealed a class of similarly qualified women who, like Moore, were also rejected despite their qualifications.

The consent decree (the term used when the EEOC settles a lawsuit) provides $475,000 in monetary relief to the class of qualified female applicants who were discriminatorily rejected for employment between January 1, 2005 and October 31, 2006. Moore will receive $70,000 in damages, while the remaining funds will be distributed among the other qualified claimants whose eligibility will be determined by a procedure set forth in the decree.

Additionally the company agreed to exercise good faith in offering employment to qualified female applicants for residential, commercial, industrial and roll-off truck driver positions at the Winder and Austell facilities and the company is also required to submit a report each year identifying the name, sex and qualifications of all qualified applicants for truck driver positions, the persons offered positions, and the persons hired.

February 17, 2009

Movie Company Settles EEOC Case For $75,000

Two movie-production companies, Los Angeles-based Mandate Pictures and Chicago-based Crick Pictures, agreed to pay $75,000 to settle a pregnancy-discrimination lawsuit filed by the Chicago regional office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to the lawsuit both companies refused to hire Cynthia Castillo-Hill for a position as a casting assistant after learning she was pregnant.

Castillo-Hill produced an e-mail from the hiring supervisor which showed that the two companies believed that Castillo-Hill's pregnancy would prevent her from being able to handle the stress and long hours associated with the job. However Castillo-Hill said

"Her own doctor had indicated that the job was appropriate."

Along with the payment of $75,000, the two production companies are enjoined under the decree from future pregnancy discrimination, and are required to provide managers with training on how to avoid discrimination. The discrimination occurred in 2005 during production of the 2006 film "Stranger Than Fiction," which starred Will Ferrell and was filmed in part in the Chicago area.

February 11, 2009

Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments of 2008

The Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") Amendments Act ("Act") of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-325, 122 Stat. 3553, took effect January 1, 2009. Here are some of the changes under this new law:
1. An otherwise substantially limiting impairment which is in remission or episodic may still be covered by the Act;
2. Any person whose impairment has less than a substantial limitation on a major life activity, but who is nonetheless discriminated against by an employer will have redress under the law for all acts of discrimination other than the failure to receive a reasonable accomodation;
3. The courts are instructed to give a broad interpretation to the definition of disability;
4. The courts are prohibited from considering the use of mitigating measures in determining whether an individual has a disability--except contact lenses and eye glasses;
5. An employee who can demonstrate that an impairment substantially limits a major bodily function will now be considered disabled; and
6. In a claim where an employer determines an employee to be disabled, the focus is now on the employers treatment of a person with a disability instead of requiring proof about the perception of the employer.

The new law broadens what is considered a disability to include, epilepsy, cancer, brain damage, hypertension, mental retardation, diabetes, vision impairment, except for contacts and eyes glasses, and depatitis.

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February 5, 2009

Illinois Supreme Court Addresses Retaliatory Discharge Claim

The Illinois Supreme Court in Blount v. Stroud addressed the issue of whether or not Illinois courts have jurisdiction to hear claims brought under the Federal Civil Rights Act. In that case the Court held that employees are not required to file a claim with the Illinois Human Rights Commission even if the alleged conduct also violates provisions of the Illinois Human Rights Act. In this case the cause of action was based on retaliation.

Additionally, a claim by a former employee that she was fired for refusing to commit perjury
states a cause of action for retaliatory discharge under Illinois law. The Court went on to say that because a jury found for the plaintiff on a 42 U.S.C. 1981 claim and awarded damages in excess of $3,000,000, the trial court was justified in awarding attorneys’ fees under federal law in the amount of $1,182,832--basing their decision on the fact that the plaintiff prevailed on her claim.

February 4, 2009

Northhampton County Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit for almost $80,000

Gidget Mock, who worked as a lab technician in the Northampton county's drunken-driving center settled her sexual harassment lawsuit with the county for almost $80,000, with $39,000 to her and $38,500 to her attorneys. In the lawsuit she alleged several incidents of harassment occurred between 2003 and 2005, including comments about her clothing and groping. This is a form of retaliation, although not the traditional workplace retaliation where a person gets a negative job action for reporting sexual harassment.

Mock alleges in her lawsuit that she was evicted from her home in November 2003 and sheriff's deputies were called to remove her belongings from the property.

While they ransacked Mock's closets and drawers, they reportedly made comments about her lingerie, such as, "Gidget, we never knew you wore thong underwear" and "nice teddies."

After that, Mock's supervisor and two co-workers began directing inappropriate sexual comments or sexual advances toward her and the harassment continued as she found a police nightstick beside a sex toy left by co-workers on the kitchen counter.

As part of the settlement of the sexual harassment lawsuit, Mock agreed to resign and the county does not admit any liability and Mock relinquishes her right to ask for reinstatement to her job. According to lehighvalleynews.com, Mock had no comment about the settlement and County Executive John Stoffa said "I'm happy that it's settled. It's unfortunate it had to get to this point," Stoffa said. "I just wanted to get it off our books."

February 2, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed by White Castle Employee

A former White Castle employee filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that her coworkers made constant comments about her body, especially after management started requiring employees to tuck their shirts in, and made consistent sexual advances toward her, including inviting her to have a threesome. The sexual harassment lawsuit alleges the woman's supervisor overlooked the misbehavior because he was friends with the harassers. When the employee complained to the women who were harassing her, she began to have her hours changed intentionally so they would conflict with her church services.

The woman no longer works for White Castle and is seeking damages for mental anguish, pain and suffering and lost wages. When an employee reports harassment and is punished or otherwise has an adverse job action, it is referred to as retaliation. In Illinois an employee who quits or is terminated has a duty to mitigate her damages. Mitigation refers to finding another job to offset the loss of wages. If an employee is unable to find another job but is seeking employment they will be considered to have mitigated their damages. It is important to keep detailed records of job searches for this reason.

January 30, 2009

Firefighter Lawsuit Settled after Jury Verdict of $757,000 Thrown Out

A sexual harassment lawsuit that was filed almost five years ago by four female Jackson Mississippi firefighters, Tiffany Alexander, Sandra Hawkins, Jacqueline Moore and Stacy Prophet, who alleged their male supervisors made unwanted advances and inappropriate comments, and groped them was settled yesterday for an undisclosed amount of money. In addition to the financial portion of the settlement, the Jackson Fire Department ("JFD") must institute yearly sensitivity training.

In 2007, a jury awarded the women a total of $757,000 but the Judge citing jury error and misconduct by one of the plaintiff's attorneys, threw out the award in March 2008 and ordered a new trial. The second trial was expected this year.

Prophet said she had dreams of becoming one of the best firefighters, but sexual harassment by male supervisors forced her to leave the department
Prophet, who now resides in Tennessee, said she can now put the Fire Department behind her, according to the ClarionLedger.

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January 27, 2009

U.S. Supreme Court Protects Sexual Harassment Witness From Retaliation

Vicky Crawford, who testified in her employer’s internal investigation of a sexual harassment charge is protected against retaliation under a federal civil rights law, the Supreme Court ruled in Crawford v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County Tennessee a 9-0 decision. Crawford had been a payroll coordinator for more than 30 years for the public school system in Nashville and Davidson County in Tennessee. In 2002, several female employees complained of sexual harassment by Hughes,the school district's employee relations director. The assistant director of human resources began an investigation and interviewed several employees who worked with Hughes, including Crawford. Crawford told the assistant human resources director that Hughes asked to see her breasts on numerous occasions, grabbed his genitals in front of her and once pulled her head toward his crotch.

The investigation did not result in any disciplinary action against Hughes. A few months after taking part in the investigation, Crawford was suspended and then fired. Two other women who complained about sexual harassment by Hughes also were fired. This constituted retaliation according to the lawsuit.


Supreme Court Justice David Souter, writing for his colleagues, argued that the lower courts erred in ruling that Crawford was not protected because she did not “oppose” Hughes’ harassment, as her colleague who formally filed the charge did. Rather, the courts said Crawford was just answering questions

Souter said Crawford was covered by the law because she had actively opposed the sexually obnoxious behavior by Hughes toward her, a decision that allows her lawsuit to go forward even though she didn't make the initial sexual harassment complaint.

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January 26, 2009

$2.4 Million Sexual Harassment Award Upheld on Appeal

A jury in Simi Valley initially awarded James Stevens $18.4 million in compensatory and punitive damages in a sexual harassment lawsuit in October 2006. But the presiding judge later reduced the damages to $2.4 million. The award was appealed and the California Second District Court of Appeal upheld a jury’s reduced $2.4 million award plus $750,000 in attorney fees to Stevens in the sexual harassment case against the Vons supermarket chain.

Stevens worked for the supermarket chain for 25 years, including 15 years as an inventory clerk, where he proved that a female manager sexually harassed him on numerous occasions. Stevens complained to the company about the sexual harassment, but instead of taking action against the management employee, Vons fired him, which resulted in Stevens filing the sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. Stevens was represented by high-profile attorney Gloria Allred.

Stevens testified he was subjected to daily sexual harassment by the manager. In addition to making sexual remarks, she once simulated sex with a feather duster.

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January 24, 2009

Tacoma Department of Labor & Industries Settles Sexual Harassment Case for $800,000

The state of Washington agreed to pay $800,000 to three women to settle a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit against the Department of Labor and Industries. Two of the women, Linda Bang and Janis Fleming, remain at the office. The third, Mercy Fernandez-Figueroa, left the job because of the stress of the harassment. According to the lawsuit Phillip Scott, a co-worker of the women, and Carter Mitchell, a supervisor, harassed and intimidated the women. In addition their manager, Gail Hughes, retaliated against the women according to the lawsuit. The three women reported their concerns to upper management and then Hughes their manager branded them as troublemakers, took away their job privileges, and criticized job performance despite no change in performance according to the News Tribune.

In the lawsuit the women claim the harassment began with Scott and Mitchell making sexual comments, sexual gestures and giving disparate treatment to them. The lawsuit claims Mitchell made unwanted contact with Fernandez-Figueroa as he would rub his genitalia on her leg during an unwanted hug and dry-humped her chair while she sat in it. Additionally, Fernandez-Figueroa reported an e-mail from an unnamed co-worker denigrating her ethnic background, and when she complained to management was told she had to expect that because she was the office’s token Hispanic--which would constitute racial discrimination.

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January 23, 2009

Prior Record Of Supervisor Used As Leverage to Settle Sexual Harassment Case for $325,000

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services agreed to pay an Oxford woman $320,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. Dorothy Hawley filed a lawsuit against supervisor James Hobgood at John Umstead Hospital. Hobgood had a prior history of mistreating female workers including a conviction for assaulting Hawley and another female employee in October 2000. In Illinois, if an employer retains an employee with a history of sexually harassing women and exposes women to that person, the employer would have created a hostile work environment a new round of sexual harassment takes place.

According to court documents the evidence showed that Hobgood had been fired from another state facility 22 years earlier. In that case, Hobgood was disciplined for sexual harassment after complaints from female staffers about his behavior. His behavior in that case was so outrageous that his personnel file stated he should not be hired again by the state.

According to the News & Observer Hawley had won $433,000 in damages from the N.C. Industrial Commission, but the state appealed the award. Mediation resulted in the $320,000 settlement. In Illinois mediation is available once a claim is filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights or with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

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January 20, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Film Producer in Chicago

A Illinois Sexual Harassment lawsuit was filed by Jill Sandmire the personal assistant to Emilio Ferrari who is the producer of the film Baby on Board, starring Heather Graham, John Corbett, Jerry O'Connell and Lara Flynn Boyle. According to the lawsuit, Ferrari repeatedly slapped her buttocks, groped her, asked her to massage his shoulders and back and told her she would look really hot if she got breast implants. Sandmire also said Ferrari asked her if she and other employees were at a strip club to obtain a stripper's phone number and asked her to buy condoms.

According to the sexual harassment lawsuit Sandmire claims she repeatedly told Ferrari to stop and that when she asked a production coordinator to transfer her to another department, Ferrari prevented it--thus creating a hostile work environment. Sandmire was fired shortly after and believes it is the result of retaliation for reporting the sexual harassment and for refusing to accept the advances of Ferrari.

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January 19, 2009

Illinois Human Rights Act Amendment That Bans Sexual-Orientation and Gender-Identity Discrimination: Three Years Later

The Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") act that bans sexual-orientation and gender-identity discrimination went into effect three years ago and here is an update on the act. According to the Director of IDHR Rocco Claps, a snapshot of fiscal year ‘09 ( from July ‘08 to today ) , shows there have been 89 sexual-orientation charges and, of those, 11 are related to gender identity, 2 based on bisexual, 67 on homosexualality, 2 on heterosexuality and 3 based on perceived orientation.

In Illinois, the IDHR investigates charges of sexual harassment, as well as sexual-orientation. Known as Public Act 093-1078 the new act makes it is unlawful in Illinois to discrimination on the basis of sex, age, race, gender, sexual harassment, sexual orientation, and religion. The other basis of discrimination besides employment include real-estate transactions; public accommodations; sexual harassment in higher education; and financial credit.

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January 17, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against The University of Pittsburg Medical Center

A sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by Lindsey Yeager against the University of Pittsburg Medical Center ("UPMC Horizon") claiming gender bias, sexual harassment, wrongful termination and retaliation. Yeager was a nurse when an unnamed doctor pressured her to date him in and then to have sex with him. Yeager agreed to have sex because the doctor said her career would suffer if she didn’t, she alleges.

Yeager said she complained about the sexual harassment to her supervisors and tried to break off the relationship, but the doctor assaulted her. She claims the sexual harassment not only continued but got worse and the doctor had her supervisor issue written reprimands and criticize her without justification-which is retaliation. Yeager was fired six months after she claims she began to have sex with the doctor.

UPMC said the relationship with the doctor was consensual, and it was the doctor who tried to end the relationship. UPMC also claims Yeager falsely claimed to be working when in fact she was attending classes in Pittsburg and that she never reported sexual harassment allegations until her job performance was being negatively evaluated.

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January 15, 2009

Discrimination Lawsuit Based on Gender, Race, Sex and National Origin Filed Against Nixon Peabody LLP

Lawyer Henry Har filed a multi-count lawsuit against Nixon Peabody LLP in Los Angeles claiming discrimination based on gender, race, sex and national origin. In his lawsuit Har claims his former employer made derogatory comments toward women, homosexuals and minorities. Har claims his co-workers asked him if the office administrator had given him oral sex and made other homophobic comments throughout his employment.

Har who is asian-american claims disparate treatment based on his ethnicity and claims he was treated different that white employees. Disparate treatment bases the claim on whether the claimant was treated different than other employees who are similarly situated. In International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. United States, 431 U.S. 324 (1997), the United States Supreme Court held that disparate treatment occurs when "the employer simply treats some people less favorably than others because of their race, color, religion, sex or national origin."

Har claims he suffered great mental suffering, severe emotional distress, psychological trauma and profound humiliation. He is seeking damages to compensate for his lost earning and benefits, punitive damages for wilful and wanton conduct and other compensatory damages as well as attorney fees.

January 8, 2009

Sexual Harassment Of Female Police Officer Settled for $105,000.

Gender discrimination and a hostile work environment were alleged by Sgt. Valerie Scharfe who claims inequitable treatment as Hasting Minnesota's first female police officer. Scharfe will receive $105,000 and her attorney $25,000 after reaching a settlement with the city over alleged workplace harassment involving sexual harassment.

Although a sexual harassment lawsuit was never filed by Scharfe, the city wished to settle the case to avoid the risk of a long drawn out legal battle which could cost the city a large amount in legal fees, the potential for a large verdict against it and the bad publicity a lawsuit may bring. Both parties utilized mediation to help reach the settlement.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission "EEOC" the advantages of mediation are:
Fair and Neutral
Parties not the mediator have an equal say in the process and decide settlement terms. Saves Time and Money
Mediation occurs early in the process so legal fees are minimal.

Continue reading "Sexual Harassment Of Female Police Officer Settled for $105,000." »

January 6, 2009

Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Lawsuit Against Mayor May Be Dismissed

A sexual harassment and discrimination suit filed by a former city employee Cynthia Rogers against the City of Elizabethtown and Mayor David Willmoth may be dismissed by a Judge in the U.S. District Court in Louisville. She claims that former Public Works Superintendent Bill Owen sexually harassed her from 2003 to 2004 and sexually discriminated against her from 2003 to 2007.

In the sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit Rogers claims her supervisor acted under color of state law, deliberately and consciously engaged in adverse actions and retaliation against her which caused her to suffer injury that would likely chill a person of ordinary firmness from continuing to report other acts of sexual harassment or retaliation. She also claims the mayor’s actions violated her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, according to The News-Enterprise.

The city and mayor filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit claiming Rogers was terminated for excessive absenteeism, which included using 900.25 hours of leave time between 2005 and 2007, frequently being late, and failing to appear without telling a supervisor. The city also claims that Rogers was wearing a City of Elizabethtown shirt, was intoxicated in a local restaurant at lunchtime and was warned about the incident and absenteeism.

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January 4, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit By Female Firefighter Settled for $150,000

A sexual Harassment lawsuit filed by female firefighter Stacy Conaway who claims she was sexually harassed by former Assistant Chief John Wagner and that department officials retaliated when the harassment was reported settled for $150,000.

Conaway also claims retaliation as a result of the reporting of the sexual harassment. Retaliation occurs when an adverse action is taken to try to keep someone from opposing a discriminatory practice, or from participating in an employment discrimination proceeding. The day after Wagner’s resignation, Conaway found a dent that looked like it was caused by a firefighters boot in her Chevrolet Tahoe that was parked in the Fire Department’s lot. Soon after reporting the harassment she received less-desirable job assignments--such as being moved from a firefighting position to administrative staff. This is a form of retaliation.

Soon after Conaway began work, she said that Wagner gave her unwanted gifts, including a negligee, a vibrator and an X-rated movie which she threw away. After not first reporting the incident two department captains told Conaway that she should report Wagner’s behavior, but Conaway said she was reluctant to do so because of possible negative consequences.

Then Wagner compared her breasts to the breasts of a woman taking the department’s physical agility test, and said the applicant must have used Conaway’s doctor--Conaway had breast augmentation surgery, and Wagner was aware of it. Conaway’s supervisor became aware of Wagner’s comments and reported them to city officials.

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January 2, 2009

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed by Firefighter

A sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by firefighter Paulette Rork, 38, of Englewood in the Lee County Flordia Court system alleging the “intentional infliction of emotional distress and sexual harassment.” In Illinois attorneys can file sexual harassment lawsuits for similar actions.

Rork was employed by the Boca Grande Fire Department from 2000 until being “constructively discharged” in September of 2007. He first filed a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") that was dismissed in February. The file was closed because the commission was unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violations of the statutes. In Illinois just as in other states, the dismissal of a charge by the EEOC does not mean the case is necessarily over.

Rork is seeking $15,000 in lost wages, insurance and attorney’s fees as well as money for unspecified damages, gender discrimination and sexual harassment.

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December 28, 2008

Sexual Harassment Settlement of $200,000 Rejected

A sexual harassment case in Ohio in which two women accused Anthony Gutierrez the general services administrator and friend of the former attorney general Marc Dann of sexual harassment rejected an offer of $200,000. The woman are seeking $900,000 to settle their sexual harassment lawsuit. The women Cindy Stankoski, and Vanessa Stout claim persistant sexual harassment which has cost them their jobs. Stout quit and Stankoski is on an extended leave.

According to a report involving the investigation of the sexual harassment, the rude, vulgar and abusive conduct of senior management, including the attorney general himself, created a hostile work environment and sexual harassment was tolerated. Additionally, Jennifer L. Urban, a staff attorney who had alleged sexual harassment by Gutierrez also and Dann's top spokesman, Leo Jennings III, was fired. The office rejected Urban's claims of sexual harassment.

To show how expensive sexual harassment lawsuits are to defend, Littler Mendelson, a law firm hired by Rogers' office to negotiate a settlement, has received $41,198 thus far, more than twice the amount originally budgeted, attorney general spokesman Ted Hart said.

December 20, 2008

NASCAR Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The fastest growing sport in history, NASCAR settled a $225 million dollar sexual harassment lawsuit yesterday, the terms of which are confidential. Former NASCAR official Mauricia Grant said she was subjected to racial discrimination and sexual harassment when she worked as a technical inspector responsible for certifying cars in NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide Series from January 2005 until her termination in October 2007.

In her lawsuit she alleged 23 specific incidents of sexual harassment and 34 specific incidents of racial and gender discrimination. Among Grant's racial discrimination claims, she said she was referred to as "Nappy Headed Mo" and "Queen Sheba," by co-workers, was often told she worked on "colored people time," and was frightened by one official who routinely made Ku Klux Klan references. Grant also said she was subjected to graphic and lewd jokes and sexual advances from male co-workers, two of whom allegedly exposed themselves to her. After an investigation by NASCAR officials of Grant's claims the two male co-workers who allegedly exposed themselves to her were fired.

The settlement was reached after twelve hours of mediation earlier this month in New York. The mediation session was suggested by U.S. District Court Judge Deborah A. Batts after the first court appearance in what was expected to be a multi-year battle between the two sides.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations, as well as to the federal government. The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex. The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee. The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct. Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim. The harasser's conduct must be unwelcome.

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December 11, 2008

Illinois Internet Information Search For Employee Background Information a goldmine or minefield?

Illinois Corporations and companies are turning to the Internet to find out about perspective employees. Utilizing social networking websites like facebook, myspace, avvo and doing google searches to find out what potential employees do in their free time and who they really are. This may open employers up to discrimination charges based on negligent hiring, negligent retention or respondeat superior. Additionally, employers are using the Internet to do credit checks and background checks which may lead to disparate impact challenges under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), credit checks (i.e. resulting in the reporting of credit scores") are done 35 percent of the time in making hiring decisions. Credit scores are much lower for counties that have high percentages of minorities, especially African Americans and Hispanics. Additionally, employees with disabilities may have Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") claims if they are not hired because of low credit scores. As a group disabled people have lower credit scores and therefore an employer who doesn't hire a prospective applicant because of a lower credit score would never hire a disabled person and may be subjected to an ADA claim.

The Internet provides a fast and inexpensive way to gather information about either employees or prospective employees. The problem with the Internet as an information resource is the information may be inaccurate or downright false.

A red flag to an employee that Internet related information may be used against him during the interview process would be mention of either a facebook, myspace or other social networking website. If you believe you were not hired or promoted because of information about you that was found on the Internet or because you have a low credit score, you may have a claim against an employer and should contact an attorney that concentrates in employment law.

September 19, 2008

IDHR Fact Finding Conference

Once a charge is filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"), and the company is served with the charge and responds a client interview will be conducted. After the interview a fact-finding conference will be conducted by the investigator for the IDHR and will include the

Complainant and her attorney, the Respondent and their attorney and any witnesses that the investigator wishes to invite.

All documents or other non-testimonial evidence submitted by any party in support of their position must be submitted to the investigator prior to the fact finding conference.
At the conference, any party may be accompanied by an attorney, however the attorney is not allowed to ask questions directly as the fact finding conference is not an adversarial proceeding.

The attorney may only advise his client at the proceeding. Investigators however will allow the attorney to write questions and pass them to the investigator. If the investigator deems the question relevant, the investigator may ask it.

August 29, 2008

Illinois Sexual Harassment Victims:Tips For Gathering Evidence Against The Harasser

In Illinois as in other states people who sexually harass are not stupid enough to commit the harassment in front of others. In most instances, the harassment is done one-on-one in a private setting--this is why having an experienced Illinois sexual harassment lawyer involved in your case early is very important. Perhaps it is a telephone call--yes you can subpoena the telephone company and get proof a call was made but the subject on the telephone call will be in dispute. Because the burden of proof lies with the person making the complaint of sexual harassment, the mere fact that a telephone call was made will not help. It may be used as circumstantial evidence and if there are many late night or weekend calls perhaps to show inappropriate behavior. A better method is to send an email to the harasser memorializing the telephone call, or perhaps to let the phone ring and go to voice mail so the harasser will leave a message.

In the case where you memorialize the telephone call in an email the key to emailing the harasser is to not make it look like you are gathering evidence but rather that you are just trying to make sure you fully understand what the harasser said on the phone. For example if the harasser said on the phone " I would like to get together with you at a hotel, I think we would have great chemistry"--you can email stating, your phone call the other night took me by surprise and my brain locked up, do you really want to get together with me at a hotel because you think we will be hot in bed? I want to make sure I was not dreaming when I recalled your telephone call. Wait for the reply and print it out-if he calls, don't answer and let it go to voice mail.

This same technique can be utilized if the harasser speaks to you in private one-on-one. Your email to him/her can state you are shy and not able to speak to him/her face to face and therefore you are emailing.

Remember, memorializing a telephone or face to face conversation is powerful evidence that will be hard to deny and will probably increase a settlement or award for your case.