Archive for the ‘EEOC’ Category

Is having a second job at Hooters in order to pay your bills and support your children enough to terminate your employment? Is there a claim for gender or familial status discrimination where a single mother holds this type of job to support her kids? Thess issues are starting to be addressed in the Ft. Myers area in the case of Nicole Zivich.

A high school cheerleader coach in southwest Florida says she was fired because a parent complained about her part-time job at a Hooters restaurant. The 24-year-old Nicole Zivich was fired from Estero High School Nov. 21. Zivich told the Lee County School Board this week that a parent of one of the cheerleaders had sent a flurry of emails complaining about her second job at the popular chicken wing restaurant where waitresses wear tight-fitting uniforms.

Citing a privacy policy regarding personnel issues, the school district has not given a reason for her termination. But school superintendent Joseph Burke said it had nothing to do with her employment at Hooters. She was working under contract as the school’s varsity cheerleading coach.

This matter has created lots of noise for the local school board who has been asked to reconsider its decision. Will keep you posted on how things turn out.

If you believe you have been the subject of sexual harassment or gender discrimination, feel free to contact Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation.

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Well this recent case gives me one more reason to dislike Virginia Tech aside from their last minute win over the Miami Hurricanes this past weekend.

As you know, we have blogged on many occasions about employee rights under the various state and Federal sexual harassment statutes which make it illegal for an employer to harass or discriminate against an employee based upon sexual harassment.

Well, a former Virginia Tech employee has settled a sexual harassment lawsuit in which she claimed her supervisor treated a five-day training session with her “as if the trip was an extended date.”

Getra Hanes, who worked as a fundraiser for the university, will receive $60,000 as part of a settlement reached last week in U.S. District Court in Roanoke.

In her sexual harassment lawsuit, Hanes accused Robert Bailey Jr., her direct supervisor, of repeatedly making sexually inappropriate comments during a five-day training trip to Maryland in 2007.

The lawsuit also said that Bailey held Hanes to different professional standards than he did his male employees, and that he fired her when she complained about the harassment.

On the way to the training session, the lawsuit said, Bailey told Hanes how uncomfortable he was travelling with a young attractive women, then proceeded to ask at length if she was married and whether she was dating.

He later tried to invite himself to her room to discuss the development office’s Moves Management program, emphasizing the first word “so as to focus on the double-entendre meaning of the title,” the suit said.

When Hanes refused, Bailey insisted that she come to his room, where he made her feel uncomfortable by wearing pajama pants, drinking a beer and leaning over her as she sat at a computer, the lawsuit said.

If you believe you have been the subject of sexual harassment in the workplace or by one of your supervisors, make sure and report the matter to Human Resources or to the EEOC. If you are fired or retaliated against based upon your complaints, speak to an employment law attorney on the issue. Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm handle sexual harassment cases and are available for a free consultation.

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Federal and state protections against race discrimination apply to you when working for an employer, but are also relevant when you apply for a job with an employer. An employer may not discriminate against you in making a hiring decision based upon your race, gender, age, etc. Of course, proving the reason why they refused to hire you is another issue altogether. Although, its easier, as in the case of Bass Pro where they tell you why they are not hiring you.

The federal government has sued national outdoor retail chain Bass Pro Outdoor World alleging racial discrimination in its hiring practices dating back to 2005. The Equal Opportunity Commission, a federal agency charged with enforcing anti-discrimination laws in employment, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Houston on Wednesday. The lawsuit alleges that qualified African-Americans and Hispanics were routinely denied positions at Bass Pro stores and managers of stores in Houston, Louisiana and other locations made derogatory racial comments acknowledging the practice. The commission also alleges that Bass Pro destroyed documents related to applications and internal discrimination complaints and retaliated against those who spoke up.

Bass Pro denies all of the allegations and complains that the EEOC suit is prompted in part by the perception that people who like NASCAR and the outdoors are more likely to engage in discrimination.

If you believe you have been refused a job or promotion, based upon your race, age, sex or gender, feel free to file a Charge with the EEOC or call Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation.

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Under Federal law, a woman can not be discriminated against or terminated based upon her being pregnant. Typically, there are also state laws, such as in Florida the Florida Civil Rights Act, that mirror the Federal laws. However, agricultural giant Olam International has not been following the law which has resulted in them being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

A woman named Jennifer Heintz claims she was offered a job as an executive assistant to two presidents with Olam. She took the job, but three days later, she was told the company was holding off on filling the position. Four days after that, Olam hired another person to fill the position. Heitz contends that the job offer to her was withdrawn based upon her being pregnant. Apparently, the EEOC agreed since the EEOC, in most cases, does not bring suit on behalf of an empoyee.

A lawyer for the EEOC stated, about pregnancy discrimination:

“It remains a serious problem — women not getting jobs, women being forced out of jobs, essentially being fired, and in this case, hired and fired immediately after they learned of the pregnancy.”

And the problem seems to be getting worse. In the five years from 1997 to 2001, the EEOC received 20809 pregnancy discrimination complaints. In the last five years, they received 29088, a 40% increase.

The EEOC further stated, “There is an added stigma because you become pregnant, therefore in the future and after even you have your child, that you will not be a productive worker,” she said. “That’s simply not true.”

If you believe you have suffered termination or discrimination due to your pregnancy, or have been denied Family Medical Leave, feel free to contact Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation.

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This blog frequently blogs about sexual harassment in the workplace and the remedies available to employee where they experience sexual harassment.

Well, the television show, “The Price Is Right” has now been accused of sexual harassment in the workplace. A former model on “The Price Is Right” game show filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging wrongful termination and sexual harassment by producers who continually humiliated and berated her, according to court papers.

Lanisha Cole names the producers of the popular game show, Michael G. Richards and Adam Sandler as well as their production company, Fremantle Media North America.

Cole began working on “The Price Is Right” in 2003 but beginning in December 2009, the situation began to deteriorate when Richards suddenly and inexplicably stopped speaking to Cole and began showing favoritism to another model with whom he was having a relationship, the suit alleges.
According to the court papers, Richards used policies “which never before existed” to limit her modeling work on the show and engaged in abusive behavior.

While called into a meeting about alleged sexual harassment involving another model, Cole complained about her own treatment.

Months later, Cole informed management she had to miss a day of work because of a family commitment and was told she would not be able to work for that week, the lawsuit says.

When she returned, she was told she was “holding the show hostage” because of her complaint.

We will continue to keep you posted on any developments in this new lawsuit. In the meantime, if you have problems with sexual harassment in the workplace, go to Human Resources or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) to make a Complaint. If that does not work or the problems become worse, speak to an employment lawyer that handles sexual harassment matters. Feel free to call Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation.

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Dustin Hoffman in the Graduate was told just one word, “Plastics.” However, plastics did not appear to be a good business decision for several employees of plastic company Promens USA.

Promens USA Inc. has agreed to pay $225,000 to four women to settle a sexual discrimination and harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the EEOC has announced.

The women worked at the former Bonar Plastics rotational molding plant in West Chicago, Ill., that was acquired by Promens hf, based in Kópavogur, Iceland, in 2005.

EEOC said the violations occurred during the five years that Promens owned the factory.

The women, who were employed in the finishing department in West Chicago, filed discrimination charges with EEOC in 2007, which sued Promens on their behalf last fall.

The women alleged that a Promens supervisor “repeatedly propositioned temporary female workers,” EEOC said in a news release announcing the settlement. When the women rejected the supervisor’s advances, he fired them.

“This pattern of quid pro quo harassment continued until Promens USA fired this supervisor in July 2010 after yet another woman complained of sexual harassment,” EEOC said.

When EEOC investigated, the agency also found that Promens USA excluded women from jobs in the rotomolding department, which paid more than the finishing department.

The EEOC stated that “Employers should take notice that women cannot be excluded from a class of jobs based on stereotypes about their physical strength of assumed lack of interest. The EEOC uncovered evidence that Promens systematically excluded women from higher-paid positions as machine operators,” Hendrickson said. “Federal law plainly forbids work force segregation on the basis of sex.”

If you believe you have been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace, speak to your human resources department. If your concerns are not addressed, go to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) or an attorney that handles employment law cases.

If you have been subjected to sexual harassment or believe you have suffered discrimination in the workplace, call Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a consultation.

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Long time no blog, now that summer vacation is over its time to getting back to updating my readers on whats the latest and greatest in employment law issues. A fitness companies recent settlement with the EEOC, shows that sexual harassment of employees is bad and even worse is when you retaliate against them rather than attempt to remedy their complaints of discrimination and harassment.

Allstar Fitness, Seattle, has agreed to pay $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The agency claimed that a Latina janitorial worker who worked at two Allstar Fitness clubs in Seattle was repeatedly sexually assaulted by her immediate supervisor. The EEOC also said that the supervisor forced her to have sex with him on a regular basis and warned her to keep quiet about it.

When the worker told the supervisor not to harass her anymore, he fired her the next day, according to the EEOC investigation. After she reported the supervisor to the company’s upper management, the EEOC and the worker claim that Allstar Fitness failed to investigate the matter and expressed disbelief in her allegations.

The EEOC filed the lawsuit in July 2010 on behalf of the 38-year-old worker, a mother of three.

EEOC District Director Michael Baldonado said the settlement will ensure that Allstar Fitness implements employee training, written workplace policies and a complaint procedure “to help prevent this from happening again.”

“No one should be forced to choose between personal dignity and the paycheck that feeds your family,” Baldonado said.

If you believe you have been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace report it to your Human Resources Department or the EEOC. If the situation does not get fixed or if you suffer retaliation as a result, speak with a lawyer that handles employment law matters. Feel free to consult with the Behren Law Firm and Scott Behren on these types of issues.

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College View Donuts, LLP paid $290,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after the EEOC charged that a manager of a Wynantskill Dunkin’ Donuts store sexually harassed female employees.

The EEOC said at the time the suit was filed in November 2009 there may have been as many as 15 victims, some of whom were 16 or 17 years old. The manager was fired after the harassment allegations surfaced, but the EEOC said store management allowed the manager to continue harassing employees for a year after two employees first complained.

The manager engaged in unwanted touching and hugging, as well as making lewd sexual comments, the EEOC said.
College View Donuts will pay $290,000 to the former employees and has agreed to a six-year consent decree that calls for appointing an equal employment opportunity coordinator and for all employees and managers to undergo sexual harassment prevention training. The settlement was announced Tuesday.

If you believe you have been the victim of sexual harassment by a supervisor, you probably want to take it to your Human Resources Department in order to address and/or investigate it. If you continue the experience problems, speak with an experienced employment law attorney. You can call Scott M. Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation.

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You may recall that I have blogged recently about EEOC complaints that credit checks on job applicants is potentially a violation of Federal discrimination laws. Well now there has been a class action lawsuit filed against the University of Miami based upon the credit checks it performs on job applicants.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Loudy Appolon of Miami, Florida, accuses the University of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by rejecting or firing qualified individuals because of their credit background, even though credit history does not predict employment performance. In fact, there is no correlation between credit history and job performance or trustworthiness, and credit reports are often rife with inaccuracies.

Samuel R. Miller, a senior attorney at Outten & Golden LLP, said, “By all accounts, Ms. Appolon was well-qualified for the position – that’s why the University of Miami offered her the job. But instead of evaluating Ms. Appolon on an individual basis, as a person who – like many Americans today – may have struggled with and overcome some personal financial difficulties, and who showed promise to be an excellent employee, the Hospital stigmatized her based on her credit history. When companies act this way, they make it impossible for Americans to break the cycle of lending and bad credit, rebuild their lives, and contribute to their families and communities. And the employers hurt themselves by losing out on some of their best potential workers.”

Sarah Crawford, counsel with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, stated, “The University of Miami’s policies and practices are illegal because they adopt and perpetuate the racial disparities in the credit system. We see this problem occurring in private and public employment across the country, despite the fact that employers, credit reporting agencies, and researchers have found no link between credit history and job performance. At a time when unemployment rates are skyrocketing, particularly for minority jobseekers, this unjustified and discriminatory practice only exacerbates the problem. Employers need to know that the practice is discriminatory and must end.” Ms. Crawford testified about the discriminatory effects of credit checks at an October 20, 2010 hearing of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

According to the Complaint, “Defendants’ hiring policy duplicates the racial discrimination present in the credit reporting system . . . This discriminatory denial of employment affects not only the individuals who are rejected or terminated, but also their families and entire communities, replicating minority under-employment and compounding credit inequities in the process.”

The lawsuit alleges that Ms. Appolon interviewed for a senior medical collector position with the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine in June 2009. She was offered the position, but the day before she was due to start her new job — after she had already resigned from her previous job — the University informed Ms. Appolon that she would not be hired because of her credit history. “I was shocked,” says Ms. Appolon. “I’ve worked in this industry for years, and my credit was never a problem.”

The case is “Loudy Appolon v. University of Miami, et al.” Class Action Complaint No. 1:10-cv-24166, in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida.

If you have been denied a job based upon a background check on your credit history, you may want to speak with an employment lawyer to discuss your available legal remedies. Behren Law Firm can assist you with these types of issues.

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More and more in the news today, there is frequent coverage of sexual harassment lawsuits. In most cases, these involve an employee and one of their employer’s employees. However, recent cases indicate that employers may also be responsible for sexual harassment of third parties and/or customers if they are aware of the harassment but fail to remedy or address it.

On September 27, 2010, the EEOC filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Beacon Hill Investments Corp., which does business as Synergy Home Care, on behalf of a group of female employees assigned to care for one of the employer’s home bound male clients. The female employees’ duties included sleeping at the client’s home overnight. The client allegedly fondled the female employees, made suggestive comments to them, and accosted them in their sleep. The employees allegedly complained to several managers and requested to be transferred. The employer is accused of ignoring their complaints and failing to take any remedial action. The female workers then quit, allegedly because of the employer’s inaction.

The EEOC claims that, by failing to take prompt remedial action in response to the female employees’ complaints, Synergy Home Care subjected them to a sexually hostile work environment and constructively discharged them. The EEOC seeks permanent injunctions against Synergy Home Care to prevent future discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, and an order that Synergy Home Care institute policies and programs to provide equal employment opportunities for women which eradicate the effect of the alleged discrimination. The EEOC also seeks damages for the female employees, including: backpay; frontpay; out-of-pocket losses, such as job search expenses; pain and suffering; loss of enjoyment of life; and punitive damages.

Many employers and managers may not realize that, as the above-mentioned lawsuit urges, an employer may be “responsible for the acts of non-employees, with respect to sexual harassment of employees in the workplace.” 29 C.F.R. § 1604.11(e). For an employer to be liable for non-employee harassment, the employee must show that: (i) he or she was subjected to unlawful harassment on the basis of his or her sex; (ii) the harassment was unwelcome; (iii) the harassment was severe or pervasive enough to affect a term, condition, or privilege of his or her employment, and (iv) the employer knew or reasonably should have known about the harassment by the third-party and failed to take prompt remedial action.

So in the event you, as an employee, are sexually harassed by your employer or third parties such as their customers, and the employer has knowledge of what is taking place, you may want to file a complaint with the EEOC or contact and experienced employment lawyer to address these issues.

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