At the conclusion of the law firm’s 2009 holiday party, founding partner Lionel Z. Glancy took employees to a Los Angeles bikini bar named Fantasy Island, paid for their admissions and bought a lap dance for at least one employee, according to the lawsuit.Source: L.A. Times
The lawsuit alleges that female employees at the firm were subjected to a hostile work environment that included “partners’ obsession with discussing sex in the workplace and derogatory comments about women.” One lawyer posted photographs of naked women on the wall of his office, and partners once gave a male employee binoculars to “leer at the hot women through the office windows,” the lawsuit says.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
According to the EEOC’s suit, the president of the company allegedly engaged in repeated, acts of racial harassment toward a Native American employee, Carolyn Red Bear, allegedly including derogatory comments about Red Bear’s “ethnic” appearance, suggestions that she seek alternative employment in personal home care as more consistent with the skills of Native American people, and statements that she did not “fit in” with the white community in Ladysmith, Wis. Despite complaints, the EEOC contended, the company allowed a non-Native American co-worker to refer to herself at work using the fictitious name “Pink Feather,” allegedly to mock Red Bear.
Ultimately, according to the EEOC, Wisconsin Staffing Services forced Red Bear out of her job when she refused to comply with a directive from the company president to cut her hair, change her last name, and to stop “rubbing in” her heritage.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it unlawful to harass employees based on race, including racial harassment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Wisconsin Staffing Services, Inc.. d/b/a Nicolet Staffing, Inc., Case No. 3:10-cv-543) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.
In addition to the $20,000 in monetary relief to Red Bear, the two-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit enjoins Wisconsin Staffing Services from engaging in discrimination or harassment based on race or retaliation in violation of Title VII. The consent decree also mandates that Wisconsin Staffing will implement and distribute policies prohibiting discrimination and retaliation and set up procedures for receiving and investigating complaints. The company must also provide two hours of training on race discrimination laws to managers and employees and an additional hour of training to any manager designated to investigate discrimination complaints. The company is also required to report to the EEOC about the company’s response to any complaints of alleged discrimination and post a remedial notice.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
As the Notice states, the Board “believes that many employees protected by the NLRA are unaware of their rights under the statute. The intended effects of this action are to increase knowledge of the NLRA among employees, to better enable the exercise of rights under the statute, and to promote statutory compliance by employers and unions.”
The proposed notice is similar to one recently finalized by the U.S. Department of Labor for federal contractors. It states that employees have the right to act together to improve wages and working conditions, to form, join and assist a union, to bargain collectively with their employer, and to choose not to do any of these activities. It provides examples of unlawful employer and union conduct and instructs employees how to contact the NLRB with questions or complaints.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Massachusetts’ New Law Bans the Use of Questions About Criminal History on an “Initial Written Application” for Employment
This law is quite different from Wisconsin's prohibition against arrest and conviction discrimination in employment. In Wisconsin it is lawful to inquire about an applicant's arrest and conviction record during the application and interview phase because it allows an employer to decide if any offense falls under the "substantially related" defense to discrimination based upon arrest and conviction record.
Minnesota Court Finds Misrepresentation During Hiring Process Amounts to Misconduct, Denies Unemployment Benefits
Why didn't the employer know about this before they hired her? Well, during the interview process, Santillana was asked why she left her former employer and responded that she left because she was interested in part-time work. The employer never asked her about her criminal background, she did not tell her employer during the interview about the ongoing criminal investigation, and the background check that the employer performed before hiring her came back clear. After Santillana was hired, she was then charged with felony exploitation of a vulnerable adult. The employer didn't have a policy regarding the disclosure of pending criminal charges, etc and Santillana never offered the information up as a courtesy to the employer.
Upon termination Santillana applied for unemployment benefits with the State of Minnesota but was denied after the unemployment-law judge determined that Santillana was discharged for employment misconduct, which was subsequently upheld by the Minnesota Court of Appeals which clarified that “employment misconduct” includes a misrepresentation made during hiring and affirmed the denial of unemployment benefits.
It is somewhat understandable and obvious why Santillana did not inform the employer that she really separated from her last employer because of her alleged stealing and criminal activity. The employer never asked specifically about any pending criminal charges and Santillana did not want to voluntarily bring it up. Santillana did not technically violate any of the employer's policies during the hiring process however she was not 100% honest about why she left her former employer. It is clear she separated from her previous employer because of the criminal activity and the Minnesota Court of Appeals held the employer should have been informed of this despite not having a policy regarding that information.
The case is Santillana v. Central Minnesota Council on Aging and Minnesota Dep’t of Employment and Econ. Dev., No. 23466835-3 (Minn. Ct. App. Nov. 30, 2010).
Saturday, December 18, 2010
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The agency pointed out that the legislation does not provide additional weeks of benefits to those who have exhausted all entitlements under previous law.
In Wisconsin, claimants are currently eligible for up to 86 weeks of benefits. In other states with higher unemployment, claimants are eligible for up to 99 weeks.
The U.S. Department of Labor says 94,291 people in Wisconsin are currently receiving extended unemployment benefits beyond the 26 weeks states always provide.
• Retroactive payments will be mailed Monday.
• Claimants should expect to receive payment within one to three business days after the agency processes their checks.
• Claimants can confirm that their payments have been made by using the claims inquiry system at the website www.ucclaim-wi.org or (800) 494-4944.
• Claimants can see which program (or "tier") they are in by reviewing their most recent benefits statement.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
DOJ Files Title VII Suit Against Chicago School District for Refusing to Accommodate Teacher’s Pilgrimage to Mecca
The pilgrimage, known as Hajj, is required by Khan's religion. According to the complaint, Berkeley School District denied Ms. Khan’s request because the purpose of her leave was not related to her professional duties nor was it leave for any of the specific purposes set forth in the Professional Negotiations Agreement between the district and the teachers’ union.
The matter was initially charged with the EEOC who found reasonable cause to believe discrimination occurred and then it was referred the charge to the Department of Justice after conciliation failed. Here is the DOJ Press Release on the suit.
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7th Circuit Overturns Eastern District of Wisconsin Injunction Against Republic Airways in Union Dispute
The problem originated when Republic Airways acquired Frontier Airlines in October of last year. As with every acquisition, a number of changes were made and Republic Airways announced that it was shifting maintenance work on Frontier’s aircraft to Milwaukee—where maintenance is performed by nonunion workers—from Denver, where Frontier’s maintenance workers are represented by the Teamsters Union. Teamsters argued that its collective bargaining agreement with Frontier determines the rights of Frontier mechanics affected by the shift.
Republic Airways disputes Teamsters' position and asserts that the airlines that it owns, although separately incorporated, constitute a “single transportation system” or “single carrier,” within the meaning of the Railway Labor Act. This is significant because if it is held that Republic Airways and all that it owns is a "single carrier," then the Teamsters Union would not represent a majority of its members, and would not be authorized to represent Frontier’s workers.
Prior to reaching the 7th Circuit, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin issued a preliminary injunction forbidding Republic from altering pay, work rules, or working conditions until the National Mediation Board rules on the issue of whether Frontier is a single transportation system. The 7th Circuit found a problem with this injunction:
The injunction issued in this case does have a problem, but not a problem having to do with the district court’s authority—rather a problem with how that court has exercised its equitable discretion. The injunction maintains, for the indefinite future (it has no expiration date, and is “preliminary” in name only), what may well be an illegal status quo—a union supported by only a fourth of the bargaining unit yet acting as the bargaining representative of that minority. We are given no reason to think that a majority of Republic’s mechanics want to be represented by the Teamsters Union, and if not they may be placed at a disadvantage if Republic is required to extend special privileges to Frontier’s mechanics.That is, the District court has placed a union in a workplace outside of federal law governing unionization of an airline. The 7th Circuit held that this "perverse result" can be fixed through "the application of age-old equitable principles" and ruled that the injunction must be modified to condition continuance on the Teamster Union’s prompt application to the National Mediation Board for a ruling on its representation status.
The case is Int’l Brotherhood of Teamsters Airline Division v. Frontier Airlines, Inc., No. 10-2291 (De. 13, 2010).
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Sunday, December 12, 2010
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Saturday, December 11, 2010
Employer's Remarks About Employee's Miscarriage and Pregnancy Allow Discrimination Claim to Move Forward
1) During the first pregnancy,Rumbley told May (her supervisor) that she was expecting. When she miscarried, Rumbley missed work. Upon her return to work following the miscarriage, Rumbley asked May if she could fill out a slip for sick leave and asked May to sign her sick leave slip. At that point, May told Rumbley “that he didn’t want [her] to start abusing [her] sick leave. And he asked if [she and her partner] were going to try again.”
2) Rumbley informed May on April 10, 2008, that she was expecting again. May responded by saying: “Look around, how many pregnant women do you see?”. Rumbley replied “None.” And then, according to Rumbley, May “said something about keeping it that way . . . [, w]e plan on keeping it that way[, or] we should keep it that way.”
3) On May 19, Rumbley and May met again. May remarked during the meeting that “even if they had to pay for maternity leave[,] then [Rumbley] sure as hell wouldn’t have a job when [she] came back.”
4) May confirmed to Rumbley, via a head nod, that another supervisor was trying to get rid of her beause of her pregnancy.
These comments loaned themselves to the Plaintiff to pursue a sex discrimination claim under Title VII as direct evidence and to avoid summary judgment on her disparate treatment claim, ruled the federal district court in Alabama.
The case is Rumbley vs. Austal USA , Civil Action No. 1:09-499-KD-B
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010
--Woolsey v Klingspor Abrasives, Inc., NDTex, December 1, 2010: Court DENIES in part and GRANTS in part Defendant's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff filed age and sex discrimination claims under the ADA and Title VII and Texas state statutes and retaliation claims under those statutes as well. Plaintiff produced evidence of a remark (employer stated two older employees were no "spring chickens") that related to his age and showed that Defendant's reason for terminating him differed in several areas and at several times which allowed him to survive summary judgment on his age claim.
With respect to Plaintiff's sex discrimination claim, he failed to respond to Defendant's response and was deemed to have abandoned the claim. Likewise, Plaintiff's retaliation claim failed even though a clever attempt to use the expanded definition of "adverse employment action" under Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. White, 548 U.S. 53 (2006) was implemented to suggest Defendant's filing of a declaratory judgment could be viewed as dissuading him from "asking his lawyer to write a letter to the former employer, raising allegations of age discrimination and retaliation, where the employer responds with an out-of-state lawsuit against that now unemployed worker." The court was unconvinced by this argument because Plaintiff filed an EEOC complaint a mere 12 days after the filing of the declaratory judgment.
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Friday, December 3, 2010
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UPDATE: The show will air Sunday, December 19, 2010 from 9:30-10am.