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February 24, 2014 / Corina Valderrama

Verdict for Former Employee in Discrimination Suit

money on gavel

A jury awarded a Long Beach man nearly $400,000 in a discrimination suit after finding that a Long Beach doctor and the man’s employer discriminated against him for being gay.

Plaintiff Edward Martinez was hired as a medical assistant by Spring Family Medical Group in August 2010. The jury found Jared Piety, owner of Spring Family, liable for his unlawful behavior towards Martinez. According to Martinez, Piety was unaware of his sexual orientation at the time he was hired and even asked Martinez if he was gay at his orientation. Shortly after Martinez was hired, Piety became aware of his sexual orientation and began constantly calling Martinez gay slurs and regularly mocking him in front of patients, according to Martinez.

Martinez complained numerous times about Piety’s conduct but his complaints went unanswered. Martinez was fired about six months after being hired in what Martinez believes was retaliation for his complaints.

If you have been unlawfully discriminated against in the workplace, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a private consultation.

February 12, 2014 / Steven Soliman

Oakland Raiders Sued By Team’s Cheerleaders

raiders

The NFL’s Oakland Raiders are facing a class action lawsuit by their own cheerleaders, the Raiderettes. The suit alleges that the Raiders pay their cheerleaders $1,250 per year, which is less than $5 per hour, while also fining them for minor infractions, reducing their pay for gaining even just a few pounds, requiring them to pay their own travel expenses, all the while refusing to pay them any money at all until the season is over.

Specifically, the lead plaintiff, Lacy T., alleged, “The club controls our hairstyle and makeup, and we have to foot the bill. We also have to pay the costs for traveling to all kinds of events, including photo shoots. …I love the Raiders and I love being a Raiderette, but someone has to stand up for all the women of the NFL who work so hard for the fans and the teams.”

The complaint was filed with a copy of Lacy’s employment contract. Her attorney, Sharon Vinick, stated that she had “never seen an employment contract with so many illegal provisions.”

Lacy and the other plaintiffs are seeking damages for failure to pay minimum wage, failure to pay wages in a timely manner, unlawful deduction from wages, failure to pay overtime, failure to provide wage statements, unlawful prohibition on discussing wages, failure to reimburse expenses, among others. The complaint was filed in Alameda County Superior Court.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of employment violations such as the ones described here, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a private consultation.

February 11, 2014 / Nazareth M. Haysbert

JP Morgan Chase Settles $1.45 Million Sex Discrimination Lawsuit Filed By 16 Female Mortgage Bankers

JPMorgan-Chase-Bank-Headquarters

Global financial services firm JP Morgan Chase has agreed to pay $1.45 million to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), on behalf of a group of 16 female mortgage bankers employed at a JP Morgan Call Center outside Columbus, Ohio. The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.

According to the EEOC complaint, JP Morgan Chase maintained a sexually hostile work environment towards female mortgage bankers at its Polaris Park facility, consisting of sexually charged behavior and comments from supervising staff and other mortgage bankers. The female mortgage bankers who did not embrace and participate in this state of affairs were ostracized and suffered economic harm, including being deprived of lucrative sales calls, training opportunities, and other benefits of employment.

After attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the EEOC conciliation process, the EEOC filed a lawsuit, entitled Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, asserting claims on behalf of the female Plaintiffs for violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

JP Morgan Chase agreed to settle the case and to allocate $1,450,000 in monetary relief among the 16 female mortgage bankers employed at the Polaris Park facility. In addition, the consent decree resolving the case enjoined JP Morgan Chase from creating or maintaining a sexually hostile work environment at the Polaris Park facility in the future. Furthermore, the company is now required to develop a call data retention system at the Polaris Park facility so that assignments of sales calls can be accessed and analyzed to ensure equitable distribution among mortgage bankers.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sex based discrimination or any other form of employment discrimination, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a consultation.

February 5, 2014 / Corina Valderrama

Wal-Mart to Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

wal-mart-logo

Wal-Mart will pay $87,500 to settle a lawsuit for retaliation filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). According to plaintiff Ramona Bradford, Wal-Mart’s Eubank, New Mexico location refused to hire her adult son and daughter for entry-level positions because Ms. Bradford had filed a sexual discrimination charge against Wal-Mart with the EEOC.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee because of his or her opposition to discrimination and/or participation in protected activity, such as filing a discrimination charge. The EEOC alleged that Ms. Bradford was a victim of retaliation because her two adult children were being denied employment because of her sexual discrimination complaint.

In addition to the $87,500 monetary relief, the suit provides for other relief such as an injunction prohibiting retaliatory practices, training for managerial employees on retaliation, and the posting of a notice advising employees of their rights under Title VII.

If you feel that you have been a victim of retaliation by your employer, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a private consultation.

January 21, 2014 / Steven Soliman

New IRS Rules on Mandatory Tips Could Lead to Lawsuits

tip

Beginning January of 2014, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) began classifying automatic gratuities as service charges which are taxed like regular wages. Many hotels, restaurants, and others in the hospitality industry include mandatory automatic gratuities on checks for parties of six or more, rather than giving the customer the discretion to tip an amount that they feel is suitable.

The change is expected to be problematic for the hospitality industry as it will complicate payroll accounting. For example, once the tip is designated as a “mandatory tip,” it becomes part of the employee’s wages paid by the employer. This will affect the employee’s rate of pay since, as wages, mandatory tips must be included into the regular rate of pay for hourly employees unless a basis for exclusion can be found in the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Additionally, restaurants currently pay Social Security and Medicaid taxes on all of their employees’ tips which entitles them to a tax credit. However, the new changes would lower this possible income-tax credit.

Many restaurants are now considering getting rid of automatic gratuities all together. Others, in a much more dramatic response to the new law, are not allowing their servers to receive any tips at all and are instead increasing food prices to include the cost of service. In such a scenario, the servers would be paid a higher hourly wage to make sure they are compensated properly.

If you or someone you know has suffered a financial injury related to employment, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a private consultation.

January 13, 2014 / Admin

Nurse Files Lawsuit against Hospital Alleging Religious Discrimination

A nurse has filed a lawsuit against Coshocton County Memorial Hospital Association in federal court in Columbus, Ohio, alleging religious discrimination.

Karen Good, a nurse supervisor, claims the hospital implemented a mandatory flu shot policy for all employees commencing in October 2012. According to the lawsuit, Good’s religious beliefs prohibited her from receiving such a shot. In order to be exempt, the hospital required a religious exemption form signed by an employee’s clergyman. When Good turned her form in, however, the hospital informed her that she could either be vaccinated or be terminated. Good offered to wear a mask in lieu of the shot, but was refused.

Good is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages for her injuries under her claims of religious discrimination and retaliation.

Federal law, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, prohibits the impermissible consideration of religion in employment practices. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) places similar restrictions on employers. FEHA prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee or potential employee because of a conflict between the employee’s religious belief and the employer’s requirement.

If you or anyone you know has been terminated due to religious discrimination, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a confidential consultation.

January 10, 2014 / Scott Tillett

Hotel Employees Settle Unpaid Tip Class Actions for Millions

Four-Seasons-Hotel

Employees of Four Seasons, Ltd. and Marriott Hotel Services, Inc. have settled class action lawsuits alleging the hotels engaged in illegal tip withholdings. According to Top Class Actions, the employees claimed their employers billed customers for mandatory service charges, which were not passed on to the employees as tips.

The lawsuit against Four Seasons alleged that the hotel wrongfully withheld tips from food and beverage workers by keeping a portion of “gratuity fees” charged to guests. Other issues, such as whether Four Seasons employees should be awarded liquidated damages, are still pending, but the court approved the $4 million service charge settlement agreement. Similarly, the Marriott food and beverage servers settled their claims that the hotel misled customers into believing that “gratuity fees” they were being charged were going directly to servers, when in fact the hotel was retaining a portion of this money for itself. Marriott agreed to pay class members lost wages, tips, and interest to settle the servers’ claims.

According to Hawaii Statutes § 481B-14, hotels and restaurants that charge service charges for the sale of food and beverages must distribute these charges directly to employees as tips or inform purchasers that these charges are not being passed on to servers as tips. Other states, including Washington and New York, have similar laws, but in most states service charges are not considered tips. For example, according to the California Department of Industrial Relations, tips are voluntary amounts left by patrons for employees, whereas mandatory service charges are “contractual agreement[s]” between the establishment and the patron, the employer can distribute to employees at its discretion, and if given to employees, would be included in their regular rate of pay for overtime payments. In contrast, California Labor Code § 351 prohibits employers from using voluntary tips as credit towards its obligation to pay minimum wage. Therefore, employee tips customers voluntarily pay to servers are amounts earned in addition to wages paid by the employer.

If you or someone you know has not received all wages owed by your employer, you may be entitled to relief. Please call Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a confidential consultation.

December 23, 2013 / Teresa Mkhitarian

EEOC Filed Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against Oakland Children’s Hospital

children_hospital-oak

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a federal lawsuit against Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California, alleging disability discrimination.

Imelda Tamayo, an office associate, had worked at Children’s Hospital for two years when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2011. According to the lawsuit, Tamayo requested additional medical leave and the hospital refused. The hospital then unlawfully discharged her on July 10, 2012, even though the EEOC determined that the leave would not have posed an undue burden for the employer.

The EEOC is seeking monetary damages, including back pay, compensation for emotional distress, and punitive damages. An injunction is also being sought to prevent future discrimination.

Title I of the ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals on the basis of disability in regard to hiring, advancement, discharge, compensation, or terms of employment. The ADA mandates that employers must make reasonable accommodations to mental or physical limitations of employees. Similarly, California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act outlaws discrimination by all business establishments in California because of age, ancestry, color, disability, national origin, race, religion, sex and sexual orientation.

If you or someone you know has been discriminated against on account of a disability, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a confidential consultation.

December 12, 2013 / Teresa Mkhitarian

Organ Donor Wins Disability Association Discrimination Lawsuit

A California Court of Appeal recently ruled in favor of a former employee of Auto-Chlor System of Washington that had alleged a rare disability association discrimination claim under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

Scott Rope was hired as a branch manager at Auto-Chlor in September 2010. During the hiring process, Rope informed Auto-Chlor that he would need time off to donate a kidney to his sister. Subsequently, Rope learned that he was allowed 30 days of paid leave under the new Michelle Maykin Donation Protection Act (DPA). According to the lawsuit, Auto-Chlor agreed to allow Rope to take unpaid leave, but refused to accommodate a leave with pay.

During his employment, Rope had received satisfactory reviews and was not subject to any disciplinary action. Despite these facts, Rope was terminated two days prior to the DPA taking effect and eventually filed suit. The Second District Court of Appeal in California ruled in Rope’s favor, claiming that Rope’s association with his disabled sister and subsequent termination constituted a valid claim for associational disability discrimination under FEHA.

Under California’s FEHA, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person on the basis of a physical disability. The definition of discrimination in California includes a perception that the person is associated with a person who has any of the characteristics of a physical disability. The associational discrimination claim provides a cause of action to employees who have been discriminated against because of their association with a disabled person, even if the motivation behind the employer’s discrimination is purely monetary.

If you or someone you know has been terminated because of similar discrimination, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a confidential consultation.

December 10, 2013 / Teresa Mkhitarian

Mountaire Farms Settles EEOC Retaliation Lawsuit

mountaire farms

Mountaire Farms, Inc.  has agreed to pay $48,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed in North Carolina by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Frantz Morette began working as a translator at Mountaire Farms for a group of Haitian workers at the company’s Lumber Bridge, North Carolina facility. According to the lawsuit, Morette repeatedly complained to his supervisors that the Haitian employees were not allowed to take restroom breaks like their non-Haitian counterparts. The lawsuit further alleged that the supervisors refused to provide the Haitian employees with training for higher paying jobs and that the employees were often harassed by their non-Haitian co-workers by having chickens thrown at them. Ultimately, Morette was terminated in retaliation for his complaints about these conditions to his supervisors.

In addition to $48,000 in monetary relief, the settlement requires Mountaire Farms to revise its anti-discrimination policy to include procedures for reporting discrimination and to provide assurance that they will protect the confidentiality of complaints about discrimination. Mountaire Farms has also agreed to investigate all discrimination complaints and to post a copy of its anti-discrimination policy at all of its facilities. The settlement will further demand that Mountaire Farms train its employees on anti-discrimination laws annually.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act makes it unlawful for any employer or organization to discriminate against employees in any way on account of an individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The Act further prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for reporting such unlawful conduct. Similarly, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits gender-based harassment or discrimination in an employment context. FEHA also includes a provision barring retaliatory conduct in response to filing complaints.

If you or someone you know has been terminated due to retaliatory conduct, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a confidential consultation.

 

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