Posts Tagged ‘Florida Civil Rights Act’

Sexual harassment in the workplace must be quickly addressed by employees and employers in all cases. However, it is even more important to address where minor employees are involved. In at least one case, the managers of a Dairy Queen did not address the harassment quick enough.

The guardian of a 17-year-old minor has filed a lawsuit against Dairy Queen, claiming the fast food restaurant allowed the teen to be sexually harassed by a co-worker.

Kathryn McCauley, as guardian and next friend of a minor, filed suit against Food Service Holdings Ltd., doing business as Dairy Queen, on Oct. 17 in the Eastern District of Texas, Lufkin Division.

The 17 year old was employed by Dairy Queen in Huntington in June 2010, where she was subjected to discrimination on the basis of her sex, including sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting such harassment, the suit claims.

According to court records, the minor was subjected to a hostile work environment by a co-employee and was told the co-worker would be fired after his 30-day probationary period.

However, McCauley claims that when the probationary period was over, the co-worker was not fired. Instead, the minor was not properly placed on the schedule and given very few hours. The teenager was terminated on Oct. 3, 2010, allegedly for failing to show up to work.

The teen maintains that she was informed that she was not scheduled to work on the date in question and she was really terminated for reporting the sexual harassment.

If you believe you or one of your children has been the subject of sexual harassment in the workplace, speak to an attorney experienced with sexual harassment suits such as Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm.

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Discrimination is illegal against all pregnant employees not only while they are working for employers, but also during the hiring process. The EEOC is trying to educate Tampa’s Capri Home Care.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced that it filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against Capri Home Care, Inc. for refusing to hire a pregnant applicant into an administrative assistant / billing clerk position at its Clearwater, Fla., facility. Capri Home Care is a home health agency that provides skilled nursing and specialized home health care throughout Central Florida.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Capri’s management was so impressed with the applicant at her initial interview that they immediately extended her an offer for the position starting the next day. Following orientation on the applicant’s first day of work, Capri’s sentiment changed after she disclosed she was pregnant. Within an hour, the EEOC said, Capri rescinded its job offer, claiming it had already offered the position to a former employee. A non-pregnant woman was selected several months later, the EEOC said.
Pregnancy discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District, Tampa Division (EEOC v. Capri Home Care Inc., d/b/a Capri Home Care, Case No. 8:11-cv-02211-RAL-MAP) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for woman who was subjected to discrimination. The suit also seeks injunctive relief to prevent and correct pregnancy discrimination, posting of anti-discrimination notices, and training of Capri’s managers and employees about equal employment opportunity laws.

If you believe you have been denied employment because you are pregnant, you should file a claim with the EEOC or speak with an employment law attorney that handles pregnancy discrimination matters. Feel free to call Scott M. Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation.

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As discussed before, a pregnant employee can face many different legal issues with her employer that impact many different laws including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and possibly the Genetic Information Nondisclosure Act (GINA). Pregnant employees also need to know about their short term and long term disability insurance plans and how they interact with these laws. Most of these laws clearly cover natural pregnancy and adoption, but what about birth by surrogate?

That issues is now being addressed in a recently filed case. A US businesswoman is suing her employer after she was allegedly denied maternity leave following the birth of her twins through a surrogate mother.

Kara Krill, a clinical business manager at the Massachusetts-based company Cubist Pharmaceuticals, is claiming breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing, discrimination on the basis of her disability and gender, and negligent misrepresentation by the company. She is seeking an injunction against Cubist, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

Krill developed Asherman’s Syndrome – a condition which rendered her infertile – following the birth of her first child. When she and her husband decided to have a second child they used a surrogate. The resulting twins are biologically related to both Krill and her husband.

Following her first pregnancy, Krill was given 13 weeks of paid leave under the company’s maternity leave policy. However this time Krill says she was informed that she would only be entitled to five days of paid leave and up to $4,000 in expenses – as is offered to adoptive parents. Paternity leave under Cubist’s policy is also five paid days.

In her letter of complaint to Cubist, Krill stated: ‘But for my physical disability, I would be receiving the paid maternity leave offered by Cubist. Accommodating my disability would not require [Cubist] to provide me with any more benefit than other mothers’. Furthermore, she complained of discrimination and verbal abuse by her supervisor in the workplace due to her disability and surrogacy arrangement.

What do you think about Krill’s situation?

If you or someone you know is pregnant, and are not sure how to navigate the maze of legal issues that face you, feel free to 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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A recent jury verdict against Xerox for almost $800,000 shows the repercussions an employer, such as Xerox, may suffer for retaliating against an employee who complains of discrimination in the workplace. Remember that most state and federal laws prohibit not only the discrimination itself, but also retaliation against any complaints of discrimination.

Hope Bailey-Rhodeman, an African-American female, claimed she had suffered retaliation when she had made an internal complaint of race and gender discrimination. Since she filed the claim, she was demoted to a sales position, but at the time of her complaint, she was a sales manager for Xerox and had a successful career spanning nearly 20 years. She had been promoted to sales manager, leading a team of 10 sales representatives who specialized in selling equipment and services to customer in state and local government.

Bailey-Rhodeman was consistently the highest ranked sales manager in her section, and was frequently one of the most highly ranked sales managers for the country. But all this changed in the summer of 2006, when Bailey-Rhodeman made an internal complaint to Xerox Human Resources, complaining that other managers were bullying her because she was an African-American female.

Her immediate supervisor learned of the complaint, and told Bailey-Rhodeman that he was angry at her for making him look bad, telling her “now you did it.” He then launched a retaliatory investigation of Bailey-Rhodeman. Without being interviewed, or even being told the specifics of the accusations against her, Bailey-Rhodeman was suspended, being accused of committing an unspecified “policy violation.” Three weeks later she was told she was being fired, but Xerox offered to pay her 12 weeks severance, if she would agree to quit. She refused, and threatened to sue the company.

In response, Bailey-Rhodeman was told that she was being removed from her sales manager job, but could accept instead a reassignment to a sales position where she would be stripped of all supervisory responsibilities. Otherwise, she would be fired. The reassignment was a demotion, which would result in a significant loss in pay. Nonetheless, without any job prospects, Bailey-Rhodeman took the reassignment, but continued to challenge the demotion.

After being demoted to the sales position, Bailey-Rhodeman lost approximately $100,000 per year in sales commissions. Her territory was split between two white males. At trial, Bailey-Rhodeman challenged her demotion as being in retaliation for her complaints of discrimination. The jury found in Bailey-Rhodeman’s favor on her retaliation claim, and awarded Bailey-Rhodeman $488,088 in lost past income, and $316,126 in lost future income.

Should you believe you have been the subject of discrimination in the workplace or retaliation, feel free to call Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation to discuss available legal options to you.

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CHECK OUT THIS POWERPOINT WITH ALL OF THE BASIC AND NOT SO BASIC INFORMATION YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (FMLA).

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Many of you man know that if you your employer has at least 50 employees and you have been a full time employee of the employer for 12 months that you may be entitled to Family Medical Leave Act leave in the event of your serious health condition or that of one of your relatives. A new Federal Court opinion has indicated that an employee may not only take that FMLA leave, but should not be pestered about when they will return to work.

A U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas opinion dismissed Howard Memorial Hospital’s motion for summary judgment and concluded that a jury should be presented with the Family and Medical Leave Act interference claim made by a hospital employee who said she felt pressured to return to work during her medical leave.

In the case, Regina Terwilliger, a former Howard Memorial Hospital housekeeper, claims that her supervisor contacted her on a weekly basis to ask when she would return to work after undergoing back surgery. One pivotal phone conversation revolved around Terwilliger’s work status, with the housekeeper asking if she was at risk of losing her job while she was at home recovering. During that conversation, Terwilliger’s supervisor responded to her questions by saying that she should return to work “as soon as possible.” Terwilliger decided to cut her medical leave short and returned to work a week early. A few weeks after returning to work, the hospital fired Terwilliger, alleging she stole from another hospital employee. Terwilliger says she was fired for taking FMLA leave and asserts that the hospital deprived her of the act’s full benefits by pressuring her to return to work early.

“Interference includes discouraging an employee from using FMLA leave,” the district court wrote.

If you have questions about your rights under the Family Medical Leave Act or FMLA, call Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm.

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So there has been quite a bit of publicity in the news about the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell”, but many may be surprised to know that there are still few protections in the workplace against sexual orientation discrimination.

Sexual orientation discrimination includes being treated differently or harassed because of your real or perceived sexual orientation — whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, or heterosexual.

Federal Law
Although federal laws, such as Title VII and the ADA protect people from workplace discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, religion, sex, age, and disability, there is no federal law that specifically outlaws workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the private sector. (Federal government workers are protected from such discrimination.) Attempts to pass federal legislation that would outlaw sexual orientation discrimination in private workplaces have been unsuccessful to date.
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