It is usually celebrities who bring our attention to sexual harassment in the workplace, and Bill O’Reilly is the latest culprit. Recently it was announced that over the years, Fox News paid millions of dollars to settle sexual harassment lawsuits and keep women from talking about their experiences with O’Reilly. By paying these women off and keeping them quiet, O’Reilly was able to continue his behavior for decades — until this week, when he was forced out of his job. “The bottom line is money. Employers will protect employees who are making money for the company, and Mr. O’Reilly had a large base of advertisers supporting his program,” said Jeffrey Freedman, managing attorney, Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC. “When advertisers found out about the harassment and removed their ads from his program, Fox News finally had to make a change.” O’Reilly’s behavior continued for years and he harassed each of his victims over long periods of time. This is one of the keys to being successful with a sexual harassment lawsuit. Harassment is generally not a one-time thing, it has to be “severe and pervasive.” That means for the person who is being harassed, the court will consider how many incidents… Continue Reading O’Reilly case shines the spotlight on sexual harassment
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, enacted fifty years ago, prohibits blatant discrimination on the basis of an employee’s age. Yet, age discrimination is alive and well in the workplace. David Neumark, a professor of economics at the University of California, Irvine and two other economists conducted a study to test whether non-prohibited age discrimination takes place in the United States. They sent out 40,000 resumes for real jobs, each of which were identical for a given job except for the age of the applicant. The researchers found that the call-back rate drops from young applicants to middle-aged applicants and drops even more from middle-aged applicants to older applicants. The drop in call-backs for women is even greater. Although employers cannot advertise a job and state: “Applicants over 50 need not apply,” which would be blatant age discrimination, they can advertise jobs asking for applicants with, for example, three to five years’ experience or recent college graduates. A bipartisan group of senators has introduced a bill to help clarify the Age Discrimination in Employment Act to close some of the loopholes in currently acceptable age bias. But as Ina Jaffe, a correspondent for National Public Radio, reported: “Whatever happens… Continue Reading Age Bias in the Workplace
The 11th United States Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that gay and lesbian employees are not a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and, therefore, can be discriminated against by employers because of their sexual orientation. Title VII currently prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, and national origin. Judge Bill Pryor, recently on President Trump’s short list to fill Justice Scalia’s vacancy on the Supreme Court and former Alabama attorney general, drew a distinction between being gay and behaving as a gay person might. He stated that homosexuals cannot be discriminated against because of the way they dress or behave, but they can be discriminated against because they are homosexual. Judge Robin Rosenbaum in her dissenting opinion defined Judge Pryor’s argument as a “defiance of logic.” Title VII does not currently list sexual orientation as a protected class. However, a 2011 case that came before the 11th Circuit previously extended Title VII protections to transgender employees discriminated against because they do not comply with stereotypical norms of that person’s biological gender. Judge Pryor reasoned that such discrimination was based on a person’s behavior, which is not the same as discriminating… Continue Reading Workplace Discrimination Allowed for LGBT Employees
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (“FCA”) faces a discrimination class action lawsuit for the second time in as many months. In a lawsuit filed February 27, 2017 in the United States District Court, FCA allegedly mistreated older employees during their performance reviews. As a result, these older employees received fewer promotions and lower pay. The lawsuit claims that the pictures are used by upper-level managers who rarely interact with the workers they review; these managers give lower scores to employees over age 55, despite glowing reviews from the employees’ immediate supervisors. The plaintiff’s attorney, Shereef Akeel, explains: “The use of a photograph has no value in determining how well someone performed for a year. Someone can be judged by appearance rather than by their performance.” This lawsuit comes after another filed by a former diversity manager who alleges that for at least the years 2014 to 2017, FCA’s review process adversely affected older and black employees, resulting in lower scores on their evaluations than their younger and white co-workers.
Toi Patterson worked for Cushman & Wakefield for nine years as an administrative assistant and then senior administrator before she was fired for requesting a medical leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. Ms. Patterson had been diagnosed with breast cancer and asked for a reasonable accommodation to work part time while she underwent treatment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) charged that Ms. Patterson was fired by Cushman & Wakefield because of her disability rather than allow her to work part time or allow another reasonable accommodation be made to keep her employed. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, including unpaid leave or modifying the disabled employee’s work schedule, as long as doing so would not be a hardship for the company. Cushman & Wakefield, a real estate services firm with a global profile, employs over 43,000 people and has revenues of $5 billion. The firm has now settled with Ms. Patterson and will pay her $100,000 in restitution. As part of the settlement, Cushman & Wakefield must also comply with five additional terms: 1) the firm cannot violate the ADA again; 2) the firm must… Continue Reading $100,000 Settlement for Worker Fired Because of Disability
Employment discrimination cases are not only complicated, they can border on the weird. For example: A woman who was part of a department for 20 years, was training an employee who had worked there for only three months, and whose co-worker had only three years of experience, was the one chosen to be laid off when the company decided to downsize. What? The two co-workers were African-American, the woman who was downsized was white, and the boss was white — yet the court decided this was potentially a case of racial discrimination. A significant settlement was recovered for the woman who was laid off. “It turned out the boss stated that she believed she had been black in a former life so she favored African Americans. She had photos of blacks on her walls, she told co-workers she went to a ‘black church,’ and said that her friends were “mainly black,” said Jeffrey Freedman, managing attorney, Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC. “The attorney working on the case, Kevin Wicka, also found what is called a ‘smoking gun’ memo stating the employee who had been cut was a superior worker, which supported the fact she should not have been the one to… Continue Reading Employment discrimination cases — truth can be stranger than fiction
The Civil Rights Act was passed into law 52 years ago, yet even today, large employers are found in violation of the law. An internationally-held company that produces stainless steel was ordered to pay a $150,000 settlement and implement new anti-discrimination policies and training when it was found guilty of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The company had hired white applicants to fill Team Leader positions when there were five better-qualified black employees available for the jobs. In addition to the financial settlement, the company will provide anti-discrimination training to employees and post anti-discrimination notices throughout its plant. “We have come a long way since Title VII was enacted,” said Jeffrey Freedman, managing attorney, Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC. “But discrimination is still occurring, not just in hiring practices, but also in favoring white employees over people of color for promotion. As long as this continues, attorneys who focus on discrimination will pursue actions against companies that make employment decisions based on race, rather than skill and experience.” If you or someone you know has been discriminated against because of race, gender or sexual orientation, contact Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC at 1-800-343-8537.
When Melanie Smith began working for ACME Corp. in the spring of 2014, she told the company she had a pre-existing cervical disc problem and asked for a specific chair to allow her to work comfortably, given her physical condition. The company asked for medical verification of the need, which Smith provided on June 16, 2014. Along with the verification, her doctor submitted specific information about the kind of chair she needed. “As part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are required to provide accommodations for disabled workers as long as the request is reasonable and Smith’s didn’t impose an undue burden on the employer,” said Jeffrey Freedman, managing attorney, Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC. “Even if the employer doesn’t think the request is reasonable, it can’t simply refuse, it must try to find another manner to accommodate the employee — and in this case, the request was certainly within the boundaries of the ADA regulations.” showbox app download Over the next year, ACME provided Smith with two chairs, neither of which complied with her doctor’s note. One was broken, the other was too short. By June 9, 2015, Smith’s condition had significantly worsened and she informed ACME she… Continue Reading After wrong chair proves to be a pain in the neck, ADA nets $22,500 for worker
One would think large companies have a good grasp on laws relating to employment, however, that is not always the case. Lowe’s, the second largest home improvement chain, recently agreed to pay $8.6 million in damages for violating the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The company had fired workers with disabilities who had absences from work exceeding the company’s internal leave policy. “Employers can set attendance and leave policies and the rules are supposed to apply to all employees across the board,” said Jeffrey Freedman, managing attorney, Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC. Freedman has advised individuals and companies regarding ADA regulations, with the goal of helping bring businesses, government agencies and public venues into compliance. “Under the ADA, workers who have disabilities can ask for a modification of that leave policy as a ‘reasonable accommodation’ for their condition, and they are entitled to the modification as long as it doesn’t cause undue hardship on the employer,” he said. Lowe’s, which owns about 1,840 stores nationwide, fired workers for exceeding the maximum leave policy after first denying them extended medical leave. The workers and any additional workers with disabilities fired from Lowe’s for the same reason between May 3, 2010 and January 1,… Continue Reading $8.6 Million Damage Award Obtained Against Lowe’s
Imagine going to your favorite restaurant only to find that you cannot physically enter the building. Unfortunately, this is a scenario people with disabilities face if a business is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under Title III of the ADA, businesses cannot discriminate against anyone due to a disability. These businesses include: retail stores, restaurants and bars, gas stations, funeral parlors, shopping centers, and many other types of businesses. The ADA provides specific guidelines for businesses, such as: Parking Lots A parking lot that contains 1-25 spaces must have a van accessible parking space with a minimum of a 96-inch wide access aisle. A lot with 26-50 parking spaces must have 2 accessible parking spaces, one with a 60-inch wide access aisle and one with a 96 inch wide aisle. 2% of the first 1000 parking spaces provided must be accessible. A sign with the international symbol of accessibility must be mounted high enough so it can be seen while a vehicle is parked in the space. Signs on the pavement alone do not meet the ADA standards. Physical barriers to people in wheelchairs Businesses must be accessible to people in wheelchairs. Examples of inaccessibility would… Continue Reading Americans With Disabilities Act Sets Guidelines For Private Businesses