Posts Tagged ‘Wrongful Discharge’

Even international law firm Sidley Austin Brown and Wood feels it does not have to comply with age discrimination laws.

The Behren Law Firm an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace.

The case involved an international law firm who allegedly forced 31 former partners out of their ranks of partnership because of their ages. Although the law firm says it did not force the 31 lawyers out of their firm because of their age, they nonetheless settled out of court and the settlement was approved by a federal judge.

The law firm of Sidley, Austin, Brown and Wood allegedly forced out the plaintiffs in this case under a 1999 firm reorganization. The settlement would mean each former employee would receive roughly $860,000 to $1,835,510, depending on their status at the time they were forced out of the firm. It would also stop the law firm from retiring, reducing, expelling, terminating, or reducing the compensation of the partners and changing the status of partnerships based on age. The firm may also not create or continue to have any formal or informal type of policy that mandates partners retire at a certain age, nor may they have a policy in place that the firm may grant permission for a partner to continue to practice after they have reached a certain age.

In this instance, the EEOC brought suit against the law firm under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits age discrimination for those more than 40-years-old.

While it has to be said that the international law firm did have a novel defense, it did not stop the courts from deciding for the plaintiffs. The defense was that partners in a law firm are not considered to be employees under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

If you believe you have been the subject of age discrimination, feel free to contact Scott M. Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation.

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A refusal to accomodate pregnancy required lifting restrictions or termination in response to pregnancy complications, may be the basis for a discrimination claim under state laws and the Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

An African-American pregnant nurse has filed a lawsuit against her employer claiming she lost her job after provided her employer with a doctor’s note stating that she could not lift more than 50 pounds.

Claiming violations of her civil rights and violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Jackie Lewis filed suit against Senior Living Properties, doing business as Overton Healthcare Center, on Oct. 25 in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division.

Lewis was employed by Overton Healthcare Center in Overton since September 2004 as a certified nursing assistant.

On Aug. 15, she informed her employer of her pregnancy, according to the lawsuit. Lewis states she had been to the hospital that day and could not report for work. She also missed work on Sept. 1 due to complications of her pregnancy, but claims she submitted the proper excuse from her doctor.

Ten days later, she was reassigned to a position which would require lifting on her part.

As a result, she submitted a note from her doctor limiting her lifting to no more than 50 pounds. The next day, Lewis’ employment was terminated, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiff is seeking damages for lost wages, insurance benefits, emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental pain and anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, punitive damages, emotional distress, embarrassment, disappointment, indignation, shame, despair,

If you believe you have been the subject of pregnancy discrimination, file a charge with the EEOC or go to an employment law attorney that handles these types of matters such as Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm.

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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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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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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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We have blogged in the past about the Family Medical Leave Act which allows you to take up to twelve weeks off, of unpaid leave, to address a family pregnancy, adoption, illness or death. Upon returning to work, your employer is required to make sure your job or one substantially the same is still available. One problem, though, is that the Federal law only covers employers with at least 50 employees. This can be problematic for many employees of smaller companies with no comparable state law protections, case in point, Claudia Rendon of Philadelphia.

Claudia Rendon, 41, of Philadelphia, said her employer, Aviation Institute of Maintenance, fired her after she took time off to donate a kidney to her son.

Rendon, who worked for a year and a half in the school’s admissions office, said she notified the school that she planned to take leave on July 19 to undergo kidney transplant surgery on July 21 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania on behalf of her 22-year-old son, Alex, whose kidney failed last January. After extensive testing in early July, Rendon was found to be a match.

Kidney transplant surgery normally requires at least six to eight weeks of recovery time, and Rendon said the Aviation Institute agreed to give Rendon unpaid leave until Sept. 1. Rendon told ABCNews.com that on her last day of work before the surgery, her manager promised Rendon she would have her job upon her return, but one hour later, asked her to sign a letter acknowledging that her job was not secured.

“They said, ‘If you don’t sign this letter, you are abandoning your job and quitting,’” Rendon told ABCNews.com. “I said, ‘I am not abandoning my job. I am saving my son’s life.’”

The fact that the FMLA does not cover Ms. Rendon does not necessarily mean she is out of luck, there is also a possibility that she can bring claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act or relevant disability insurance policies.

If you find yourself wrongfully terminated, speak to an employment lawyer to learn your legal rights. Feel free to call Scott M. Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation.

In the interim, everyone should send hate mail to the wonderful people at Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Philadelphia.

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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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I have previously blogged that alcoholism is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act in many circumstances. Old Dominion Freight Line has now found that out based upon an EEOC lawsuit filed against it.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit this week arguing that Old Dominion Freight Line discriminated against Charles Grams by stripping him of his position and offering him a demotion even if he completed a substance abuse counseling program.

The EEOC says alcoholism is a recognized disability under the ADA and that the company violated the law with its policy that bans any driver who admits alcohol abuse from driving again. The EEOC wants the company to reinstate Grams and another affected driver to their previous positions and provide them with back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and compensation for lost benefits. The EEOC is also seeking to block the company’s alcohol-related policy.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Grams, who had been with Old Dominion for five years without incident, informed the company in June 2009 that he believed he had an alcohol problem. The company suspended him from his driving position, which paid him nearly $22 per hour, including benefits. In compliance with U.S. Transportation Department regulations, Grams met with a substance abuse professional who notified the company that Grams would participate in an outpatient treatment program and could return to work. But Old Dominion told Grams that he wouldn’t be allowed to drive again for the company and instead offered him a part-time position as a dock worker as soon as it became available. The position paid $12 per hour without benefits, the lawsuit alleges.

The EEOC contends that the company’s actions deprived Grams and other affected drivers of “equal employment opportunities and otherwise adversely affect their status as employees, in violation of the ADA.”
“Grams is a qualified individual with a disability under ADA … who can perform the essential functions of a driving position,” the suit says, adding that Grams and other employees wouldn’t need treatment to perform non-driving duties.

If you believe you have been subjected to discrimination in the workplace or had your job terminated based upon a disability, including alcoholism or substance abuse, feel free to call Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation about your legal rights.

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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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