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MCM Elegante Hotel Pays $100k in EEOC Religious Discrimination Suit

By Peter Levine posted in Discrimination, Employment Law, Law on December 4th, 2013

MCM Elegante Hotel agrees to pay $100,000 to Safia Abdullah for EEOC religious discrimination suit

704 HTL Operating, LLC and Investment Corporation of America, doing business as MCM Elegante Hotel in Albuquerque, has agreed to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC for $100,000 and other relief on behalf of Safia Abdullah.

The EEOC’s lawsuit charged that this employer would not allow Abdullah, who was hired for a housekeeping position at the hotel, to work unless she removed her religious head covering. The lawsuit alleges she was fired when she declined.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This Act makes it unlawful to discharge any applicant or employee because of religion or religious practices, including requesting religious accommodation. The law further provides that employers have a duty to provide reasonable accommodation for sincerely held religious beliefs and practices of employees, unless doing so would cause an undue hardship. Such accommodations may include allowing individuals to wear religious clothing or take time off for religious observances.

Religious Discrimination suit against Elegante includes additional injunctions

In addition to monetary relief, the ruling provides for other important relief, including an injunction that prohibits future discriminatory practices; institution of policies and procedures to address religious discrimination and retaliation; training for employees, managers, and human resource officials of both defendants on religious discrimination. The company must also post a notice that advises employees of their rights under Title VII.

“Employers should be aware that they have a duty to provide reasonable accommodation to employees’ religious beliefs and practices,” said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC. “Wearing a religious head covering is a common religious practice which employers can usually accommodate without any undue hardship.”

EEOC Area Director Derick Newton said, “Religious discrimination continues to be a high priority for the EEOC, and we take this issue very seriously.”

Peter K. Levine
A Professional Law Corporation
http://www.employmentforall.org/

Tri-County Lexus Settles Religious Discrimination Suit for $50,000

By Peter Levine posted in Discrimination, Employment Law, Law on December 3rd, 2013

Tri-County Lexus Refused to Hire Sikh Applicant and Provide Religious Accommodation

United Galaxy Inc., a car dealership in New Jersey doing business as Tri-County Lexus, will pay $50,000 and provide other significant relief to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC on behalf of Gurpreet Kherha, a member of the Sikh faith whose religious beliefs require him to wear a beard, uncut hair and a turban.

According to the lawsuit, Tri-County Lexus strictly enforced its dress code policy without granting reasonable religious accommodations, and thus refused to hire Kherha when he applied for an available position as a sales associate.  The EEOC deemed he was qualified for the position.

The agency is charging that Kherha was denied the job when he refused to shave his beard on Tri-County Lexus’ request.

Religious discrimination is violation of Tittle VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

Religious discrimination in employment is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which provides that employers may not discriminate on the basis of an employee’s or applicant’s religion. Where appropriate, the employer must provide reasonable accommodations to sincerely-held religious beliefs or practices.

“This case represents an example of EEOC’s commitment to vindicating the employment rights of those who want to observe their religion,” said District Director Kevin Berry of the EEOC.

In addition to the $50,000 in monetary relief to Kherha, the two-year consent decree that resolves the lawsuit prevents Tri-County Lexus from discriminating on the basis of religion in the future.Tri-County Lexus must also provide anti-discrimination training to both employees and management as well a post a notice regarding the resolution of the lawsuit. The dealership must also appoint an EEO coordinator to ensure compliance with federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.

EEOC Regional Attorney Elizabeth Grossman added, “We are pleased that Tri-County Lexus partnered with us to resolve this suit.  This settlement will protect employees and future applicants from religious discrimination and inform all that the EEOC will take vigorous action to remedy it.  It will also serve as a vehicle to educate other employers about the Sikh faith.”

Peter K. Levine
A Professional Law Corporation
http://www.employmentforall.org/

Baird Tree Will Settle EEOC Race and Wage Discrimination Lawsuit

By Peter Levine posted in Discrimination, Employment Law, Law on November 28th, 2013

Baird Tree Company Agrees to Settle EEOC Race Discrimination Lawsuit

Baird Tree Company, Inc., a tree-trimming service company based in Jacksboro, Tenn., and operating in eastern and middle Tennessee, has agreed to settle a national origin discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC on behalf of 19 Hispanic former employees.

According to an EEOC suit filed on behalf of 19 Hispanic employees, Baird Tree Company, Inc., a tree-trimming service based and operating in Tennessee, has violated federal law by maintaining a policy and practice of failing to pay Hispanic employees overtime pay while at the same time paying non-Hispanic American workers such wage premiums. The suit also charges that the company further violated the law when it threatened to fire employees for complaining about the discrimination.

Such alleged national origin discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Baird Tree has agreed to pay $19,000 in compensation for the damages caused by the discrimination. Back pay damages for the lost overtime wages had previously been settled by the company.

And in addition to the compensatory damages, the ruling prevents Baird Tree from engaging in future unlawful national origin discrimination and retaliation against any employee and also requires the company to provide training on wage discrimination for its senior management officials. The company must now regularly submit copies of its overtime payroll records to the EEOC. And lastly, Baird Tree agreed to EEOC inspection and copying of records regarding any employee complaints related to national origin, wage discrimination or retaliation during the term of the ruling.

EEOC is Committed to Eradicating National Origin and Wage Discrimination

“The EEOC is committed to eradicating national origin and wage discrimination and protecting vulnerable workers who courageously oppose such unlawful practices,” said Faye A. Williams, regional attorney for the EEOC. “This consent decree ensures that Hispanic employees will receive the same pay for overtime work as all other employees.”

The EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) has established six national priorities, one of them being the elimination of discriminatory policies that affect vulnerable workers who might be unaware of or reluctant to exercise their equal employment rights. These policies include disparate pay, job segregation, harassment and human trafficking.

Peter K. Levine
A Professional Law Corporation
http://www.employmentforall.org/

UPS Ordered to Pay $70k in EEOC Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

By Peter Levine posted in Discrimination, Employment Law, Law on November 27th, 2013

UPS to Pay $70,000 in Settlement Over an EEOC Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

In a religious accommodation lawsuit filed by the EEOC, the United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS), the world’s largest package delivery company, has agreed to pay $70,000 as well as furnish significant injunctive relief to the plaintiff, a Jehovah’s Witness whom UPS hired as a part-time loader at its Saddle Brook, N.J. facility.

Shortly after his new-employee orientation with UPS the plaintiff, Christopher Pompey made a request for a schedule change in order to attend an annual religious service, claiming it conflicted with his obligation to transport senior members of his congregation to the Memorial, the most solemn event of the year for Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Request for Schedule Change to Attend Service was Religious Discrimination

His supervisor and human resources department denied the request for a schedule change. When he took part in the service and did not return to work the plaintiff was terminated. The EEOC contended that the refusal to grant the request for a schedule accommodation in addition to the termination of the plaintiff constituted religious discrimination.

Furthermore, the lawsuit alleged that when Pompey applied for a job with the UPS in a different location he learned he had been placed on a company-wide “do not rehire” list and was unable to get another job with UPS after re-applying elsewhere.

The EEOC charged that the hiring manager’s actions were in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes religious discrimination in the workplace illegal. It also requires companies to make reasonable accommodations for religious practices, absent an undue hardship to the employer.

In addition to paying the $70,000 in damages to the plaintiff, UPS is prevented from discriminating against employees based on their religion, or from retaliating against employees for opposing that discrimination in the future. Additionally, the company must post its policy outlining the necessary steps for requesting accommodation for any religious event throughout its Saddle Brook location, as well as conduct anti-discrimination training for managers and supervisors, as well as discuss the policy with employees at the location during pre-work meetings.

“We are pleased that this resolution puts mechanisms in place to make it clear that employees are entitled to reasonable accommodation of their religious practices,” said Elizabeth Grossman, regional attorney for the EEOC.

Charles F. Coleman Jr., an EEOC Trial Attorney added, “Religious discrimination in the workplace cannot be tolerated. Businesses have a clear legal duty under federal law to handle requests for religious accommodations from their employees with due amounts of consideration.”

Peter K. Levine
A Professional Law Corporation
http://www.employmentforall.org/

Taboo 2 Bar & Bistro Sued for Sexual Harassment by EEOC

By Peter Levine posted in Employment Law, Law, Sexual Harassment on November 26th, 2013

Sirdah Enterprises, Inc., Owner of Taboo 2, Filed With Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

According to a suit filed by the EEOC, Sirdah Enterprises, Inc., a company that owns and operates Taboo 2 Bar and Bistro, a popular Atlanta-area restaurant and nightclub, has allegedly violated federal law by subjecting female servers to repeated acts of sexual harassment by one of their managers.

The sexual harassment occurred throughout the six servers’ employment, occurring daily for some.  Allegedly, the harassment included groping, indecent exposures, explicit sex related comments, requests for sexual favors, and promises of better working assignments and other benefits if they engaged in sexual acts.  When some of the servers rejected these sexual advances, they were assigned to less profitable areas of the restaurant or had their work schedules negatively changed, which resulted in lower earning opportunities. Although the employees complained to other management about the harassment, nothing was done to stop it.

Robert Dawkins, regional attorney for the EEOC, said, “Taboo 2 was aware of the sexually hostile work environment to which these young women were being subjected, but failed to take remedial measures as required under the law.  In addition to vindicating the rights of these seven women, this lawsuit is for the purpose of protecting the rights of current and future female employees.”

Alleged Working Conditions Unbearable Due to Sexual Harassment

The EEOC also alleged that because the working conditions were so unbearable five of the six women involved were forced to resign because they could no longer tolerate the abuse.

“This case involves charges of gross sexual harassment where a manager, an individual normally entrusted with ensuring that the rights of employees are protected, took advantage of these women by abusing his position of power,” said Bernice Kimbrough, district director for the EEOC.

Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC is seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for the servers, as well as injunctive relief in order to prevent any misconduct in the future.

Peter K. Levine
A Professional Law Corporation
http://www.employmentforall.org/

Trucking Company Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination

By Peter Levine posted in Discrimination, Employment Law, Law on November 15th, 2013

CTI, Inc., a Tucson Area Trucking Company, Sued by the EEOC For Disability Discrimination

CTI, Inc., a Tucson-area regional trucking company has been charged by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with violating federal law due to its practice of automatically firing employees after medical leave without considering or offering possible reasonable accommodations.

According to the suit, Elizabeth Barr, a CTI payroll and billing clerk, who suffered from a rare eye disease that substantially limited her eyesight, needed multiple surgeries to correct her eyesight. She requested and used leave accorded to her under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This entitles eligible employees of covered employers to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period. Before her leave was to expire CTI informed Barr that if her doctor did not release her to “full, unrestricted duty,” her employment and benefits might be terminated. Barr requested additional time for recovery, but CTI denied her and refused to explore possible accommodations for Barr.

EEOC Alleges Disability Discrimination Cause for CTI’s Termination of Employee

The EEOC alleges that CTI terminated Barr’s employment because of her disability and/or because she asked for a possible accommodation and also that other employees were discharged because of their disabilities and/or because they needed reasonable accommodations.

Such alleged actions violate Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This Act prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities. Initial attempts were made through the EEOC’s conciliation process to reach a pre-litigation settlement, but failed. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages that include back pay, compensation for emotional distress, as well as punitive damages in addition to injunctive relief, that includes the reinstatement of the affected individuals and other relief to prevent further discriminatory practices.

“Recent amendments to the ADA make clear that the protections for persons with disabilities should be broadly applied,” said EEOC Phoenix Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “Individuals with disabilities are an untapped resource that employers should utilize. Many are qualified, ready and willing to work — all they need is an equal opportunity.”

EEOC District Director Rayford O. Irvin added, “Once an employee asks for a reasonable accommodation, the employer is required to engage in an interactive process to see if there are ways that the employee can be accommodated, rather than simply firing the employee. We will continue to vigorously pursue our mission of fighting employment discrimination on all fronts. Employers have a legal obligation to provide reasonable accommodations unless there is an undue hardship.”

Peter K. Levine
A Professional Law Corporation
http://www.employmentforall.org/

Human Relations Commission charged with Race Discrimination

By Peter Levine posted in Discrimination, Employment Law, Law on November 14th, 2013

The PA Agengy That Handled Employment Discrimination is Charged With Employment Discrimination!

The Pennsylvania agency that handles discrimination in employment, housing, education, public accommodations and property issuesis finding itself the target of a federal discrimination lawsuit. Attorney Kathryn L. Waters is claiming she was denied the agency’s top executive post because she is black.

Waters is seeking $581,941 in damages after the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a letter finding there is “reasonable cause” for Waters to pursue her discrimination claim against the Human Relations Commission.

Waters alleges she should have been chosen for the position of executive director in mid-2011. Instead, the commission chose a white woman, JoAnn L. Edwards of Lebanon, a veteran human relations executive in the nonprofit sector.

In her lawsuit Waters claims she was better qualified for the job and that the Human Relations Commission’s decision not to hire her was in violation of her civil rights.

Waters filed the lawsuit after the commission refused to negotiate with her about the discrimination claims. She is representing herself in the lawsuit and has asked the judge presiding over the case, Judge Yvette Kane to allow her to proceed under pauper status. Waters’ only income is from working at a Harrisburg day care center.

The EEOC did, however deny her allegation that she had been discriminated against when she was not hired for a special assistant job at the Human Relations Commission in November 2011, noting the hiring for that job was based on rankings devised by a colorblind computer program.

However, the executive director position hiring was based on recommendations of a search committee that considered 60 candidates. Waters claims the hiring committee improperly lowered her ranking among those candidates from the No. 2 spot to the No. 4 spot. At that point the agency officials decided to consider only the top three applicants for the second round of employment interviews.

Water alleges Edwards was originally ranked fourth on the candidate list. The EEOC found that, while the commission claimed Edwards scored highest in an evaluation of the three finalists, another black woman actually ranked higher by the search committee, but was not hired. The EEOC also concluded that Waters’ qualifications for the executive director job actually did exceed Edwards’ qualifications.

EEOC Concluded Race Discrimination Not a Factor in Commission’s Hiring

The EEOC concluded the Human Relation Commission’s claim that race was not a factor in Edwards’ hiring “does not withstand scrutiny” and that there are grounds to believe that discrimination might have occurred. The EEOC also denied a Human Relation Commission request that the EEOC reconsider its finding in the Waters case and urged the matter be resolved through a conciliation process.

The matter was referred to the U.S Department of Justice, which sent Waters a letter stating that it would not file a lawsuit over the dispute but she had a right to file her own lawsuit under the federal Civil Rights Act. The letter also stated “This should not be taken to mean that the Department of Justice has made a judgment as to whether or not your charge is meritorious.”

Peter K. Levine
A Professional Law Corporation
http://www.employmentforall.org/

Farmers Insurance Sued by EEOC for Race Bias Discrimination

By Peter Levine posted in Discrimination, Employment Law, Law on November 8th, 2013

The EEOC Has Sued Farmers Insurance in the Firing of  Asian-American Claims Representatives

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has charged in a lawsuit that Farmers Insurance Exchange violated federal law when it fired two Southeast Asian-American employees because of their race, and then unlawfully fired a third non-Asian employee in retaliation for his participation in the EEOC’s investigation.

Two of the employees are of Hmong descent and were the only Asian-American employees working at the insurance company’s Fresno office during the time of their termination during March 2009.  Allegedly, a supervisor had instructed staff to code insurance payments in a manner as to avoid the automated prompting of customer surveys.

A 2009 audit revealed that several of the claims representatives in the office had instances of improper coding.  However, the EEOC’s lawsuit contends that only the Asian-American claims representatives were targeted for termination. In fact, a Caucasian claims adjuster had a similar number of cases coded, but was not terminated in March 2009. However, he was placed on leave a week after he was interviewed by the EEOC and provided testimony during investigation into the discrimination charges.

Race Discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

Race discrimination and retaliation for complaining about it violate the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The EEOC’s suit seeks back pay, compensatory, and punitive damages for the alleged victims.

“Generally, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders seldom come forward to report discrimination,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC.  “The EEOC is here to help victims of illegal discrimination and to ensure that employers treat workers equally. Our hope is that more will find the courage to come forward to break the cycle of discrimination at work.”

Melissa Barrios, local director at the EEOC’s Fresno Office, added that “Federal law protects employees who participate in investigations or proceedings involving employment discrimination from retaliation.  Workers have the right to provide testimony or protest discrimination without negative employment consequences.”

Peter K. Levine
A Professional Law Corporation
http://www.employmentforall.org/

“Ban the Box” Laws Allows Ex-Offenders to Get Jobs

By Peter Levine posted in Discrimination, Employment Law, Law on November 5th, 2013

“Ban the Box” Laws Will Remove “Convicted of Felony” Question From Job Applications

A growing number of states now prohibit public agencies – and in some cases private employers – from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history until they reach the interview stage or get a conditional job offer.

Essentially that means removing the check-box questions commonly found on applications that ask, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”

Obstacles such as these that make it more difficult for ex-offenders to obtain jobs, housing and even basic documents like drivers’ licenses only serve to drive them back to jail.

These “ban the box” laws are intended to allow ex-offenders to prove they are qualified for the job before criminal history issues enter into the hiring decision.

Minneapolis-based Target Corporation, one of the nation’s largest employer, has announced it will remove questions about criminal history from its job applications throughout the country.

California’s “Ban The Box” Laws Take Effect on July 1, 2014

This comes on the heels of a similar development in California, where Gov. Jerry Brown signed a “ban-the-box bill” that applies to government employers. Once the law takes effect on July 1, 2014, employers will have to determine a job applicant’s minimum qualifications before they ask about a job candidate’s criminal past. Applications and initial interviews for jobs, such as police officers, that by law require a conviction background check, are exempt.

Last year the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission expanded and updated a 25-year-old ruling barring employers from automatically denying people jobs because of arrest or conviction records.

In the guidance the E.E.O.C. gave it was made clear that an arrest alone is not proof of illegal conduct or grounds for exclusion from employment. It also outlined that employers need to take into account the seriousness of the offense, as well as the time that has lapsed since the crime was committed and the relevance of the crime to the specific job sought.

Peter K. Levine
A Professional Law Corporation
http://www.employmentforall.org/

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