August 31, 2014

Discrimination In Public Accommodation

So you are visiting a public place and a worker at the business is discriminating against you. What if anything can you do? Well under the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act"), you have legal protection from discrimination in a public business. So what is a public business? Just about any business that is open to the public. This includes grocery stores, doctors offices, clothing stores etc. The only places not included are private clubs. Also, what isn"t covered under the law is if a business professional doesn't wish to do business with you for business reasons--they don't have to. So if an attorney doesn't want to take your case, that doesn't make it discrimination under the law. This particular law under the Act is called discrimination in public accommodation.

If you feel you are the victim of discrimination based on public accommodation, you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will complete an investigation into the complaint and issue a finding of either substantial evidence or lack thereof within 365 days. The most important thing to do is contact an employment lawyer who can discuss the case with you. These issues can be tricky and drafting the complaint correctly can make a big difference.

August 20, 2014

Food Rite Community Supermarket Settles Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Lee's Food Corp., doing business as Food Rite Community SuperĀ­market pays $10,500 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after initial settlement discussions failed. According to published accounts, Food Rite refused to hire Deborah Newell for a vacant part-time courtesy van driver position because of her gender. An employer may not make a hiring determination based on a persons gender. Both genders are to be treated equally under the law.

In October 2012, Newell saw an online job advertisement for a part-time courtesy driver position at the Food Rite Community Supermarket. Newell met all the job's qualifications, and went to the Food Rite to apply for the position. Once inside the supermarket she spoke to the store manager about her interest in the vacant driver position. The manager told Newell that he would not hire a woman for the courtesy van driver position out of concern that a female driver would be at greater risk of being assaulted on the job than a male driver. The position ended up being filled by a male.

"Denying a qualified applicant a job because of her sex is unjust and unlawful, no matter if the discrimination results from a concern' for women's safety." said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes

August 18, 2014

Bertolini Corporation Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $92,500

Bertolini Corporation pays $92,500 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The EEOC is tasked with investigating violations of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to published accounts, the company unlawfully retaliated against two employees after they complained about discrimination. Under the law, an employee may not have a negative job action taken against him or her, simply because they are complaining about discrimination in the workplace.

Many times companies get in trouble by not handling a discrimination complaint the right way. The company should properly investigate the claim and not treat the complainers as the problem. However, all too often, companies take the easy and lazy approach and just fire the people complaining. This usually results in a retaliation complaint and the payout of money. As you can see by this case, that approach doesn't work.

"Federal law provides that employees have a right to complain about practices they believe are unlawful without repercussions, and the EEOC will continue to act forcefully to protect this right." said EEOC Attorney Faye Williams
August 13, 2014

Royal Tire, Inc. Settles Gender Discrimination Lawsuit For $182,500

Royal Tire, Inc. pays $182,500 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts, between January 2008 and June 2011, Royal Tire discriminated against its female human resources director, Christine Fellman-Wolf, by paying her lower wages than it paid a male employee who held the very same position. There are times that two people holding the same position may get different wages. For example, if one has more education or more experience.

However in this case, the facts showed that when Fellman-Wolf became HR director she was paid $35,000 less per year than her male predecessor, and $19,000 less than the minimum salary for the position under Royal Tire's own compensation system. Fellman-Wolf complained about the disparity and asked to be compensated fairly, but Royal Tire did not make up the difference. This is a classic case of gender-based discrimination. I am glad to see the company had to pay to settle this case. These types of case are also called glass ceiling cases. That just means as women try to reach the top ranks of the company they are either denied or paid so much less they stop trying to achieve these types of positions.

"Too many employers appear to think that it's enough just to let women in the door, and that no one is going to notice if the money in their pay envelope is less than men's who are doing the same work." Said EEOC attorney John Hendrickson
August 10, 2014

Turner Machine Company Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $80,000

Turner Machine Company pays $80,000 to settle a retaliation a lawsuit. The federal lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to documents, which were made public, Ken Woodard was hired by Turner in June 2011, and worked as a mechanical engineer. The legal issues began for Woodard when he voiced concerns about mandatory employee meetings called "huddles," which occurred every morning. During these huddles, employees would discuss milestones occurring in their personal lives including their religious affiliations and church activities. Woodard opposed this practice, and subsequently filed a religious discrimination charge.

The charge with the EEOC was resolved through an informal mediation process, but Turner Machine later retaliated against Woodard by firing him. You may not take a negative job action against an employee who complains about discrimination. In this case, the original complaint about religious discrimination is what triggered the retaliation by the employer.

"Employers have a duty under the law to ensure that their work environment is free of retaliation." said EEOC attorney Faye Williams
August 9, 2014

Goodwill Industries Pays $100,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Goodwill Industries pays $100,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after initial settlement talks broke down. According to published accounts, Goodwill retaliated against Mary Goulet, by firing her after she testified on behalf of another Goodwill employee in a previous federal gender discrimination and age discrimination lawsuit.

Under the law, if an employee testifies truthful in a discrimination lawsuit, they cannot be subjected to any negative job action. In this case, the employee was just telling the truth and ended up getting fired because her employer did not want her to tell the truth. This type of behavior silences honest and truthful statements. I am glad to see the EEOC filed this case and held the company to the standard to ensuring truthful cooperation.

"Our employment discrimination laws depend on the ability of witnesses to freely provide information to the courts and to the EEOC." said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Jeff Lee
July 16, 2014

Princeton HealthCare Systems Pays $1.35 Million To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Princeton HealthCare System ("PHCS") pays $1,350,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). According to published accounts PHCS's fixed leave policy failed to consider leave as a reasonable accommodation, in violation of the ADA.

PHCS's leave policy merely tracked the requirements of the federal Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), employee leaves were limited to a maximum of 12 weeks. PHCS's policy meant that employees who were not eligible for FMLA leave were fired after being absent for a short time, and many more were fired once they were out more than 12 weeks.

"Employers must understand that fixed leave policies, by definition, limit the opportunity for the employee and employer to engage in the interactive process and determine whether leave may be a reasonable accommodation under the federal law." said EEOC attorney Rosemary DiSavino
July 15, 2014

Sexual Harassment From The Boss

So you are working in Chicago and the boss is really taking an interest in you. At first you think it is because of your hard work and great ideas. However, as his interest seems directed more toward your personal life, you believe he has other motives. You do your best to keep the conversations professional, but it isn't working. The boss is trying to take you out on a date and you are confused as to what you should do.

First, contact an employment lawyer and get some good legal advice. Under the law, you are protected from sexual harassment in the workplace. if a boss or supervisor is doing the harassment, there is strict liability on the company. In this instance, you could file a complain with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") against the company and your boss individually. Take action and don't let this type of negative thing happen to you.

July 10, 2014

Credit Union Settles Sexual Harassment Case For $75,000

Coast 360 Federal Credit Union will pay $75,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a male employee. According to published accounts, . The male employee was sexually harassed by a member of the credit union. The harassment included gestures of a sexual nature. Even something that seems this minor can end up costing a company a pretty good amount of money.

In this case, the company probably could have settled the case for a good deal less earlier in the proceedings. Many times, companies try to fight the allegations and it cost them more in the long run. The circle the wagons approach, usually doesn't work.

"Federal law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace, and employers have the responsibility to protect their staff from such misconduct." said EEOC attorney Timothy Riera
June 21, 2014

Boddy Dodd Institute Inc. Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $40,000

Bobby Dodd Institute, Inc. pays $40,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts, two women, each over 70 years of age, applied for a shared mail clerk position and were extended job offers by the company. The problem for the company occurred when their ages were revealed to the company's CEO, and the job offers were revoked one day before their scheduled start date.

To make things worse, shortly after preventing the older applicants from starting work, the company hired two younger individuals to fill the position. That type of evidence is clear and convincing that age discrimination was occurring. Under the law, a company cannot make a hiring decision based on someones age. In this case, it was clear the company did not wish to hire the older women because of their age.

"The workforce includes many people who suffer discrimination because of their age, and the EEOC is committed to debunking discriminatory stereotypes that affect older workers." said EEOC attorney Robert Dawkins
June 16, 2014

Metro Special Police & Security Services, Inc. Pays $155,000 To Settle A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Metro Special Police & Security Services, Inc., pays $155,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of a group of male employees. According to published accounts, employees James Pedersen, Eric Steele, Daniel Griffis and a class of similarly situated male employees were subjected to sexual harassment by a male captain and a male lieutenant employed by the company. When the harassment is from a supervisor, there is strict liability on the company--as in this case.

The male employees were subjected to a variety of misconduct, including: the captain making offensive sexual comments to his male subordinate employees; soliciting nude pictures from them; asking a male employee to undress in front of him; and soliciting male employees for sex. The captain sounds like a real mad man. I can't imagine working for a person who behaves this way. The captain and lieutenant also allegedly forced male employees to accompany them to a gay strip club while on duty. The Captain also offered promotions to certain male employees in exchange for sex.

"All workers have the right to work in an environment free from sexual harassment." said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes

June 10, 2014

Basta Pasta Settes Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $200,000

SPOA, LLC and Marathos, LLC, which run the Italian restaurants Basta Pasta pays $200,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts Basta Pasta's owner repeatedly subjected female employees, including at least one in her teens, to rampant sexual harassment. The harassment included rubbing his genitalia against the buttocks of some of them, engaging in other unwelcome touching, and frequently making sexually suggestive remarks and crude sexual innuendos.

The restaurant retaliated against a manager who had complained to upper management about the owner's sexually offensive behavior. The restaurant warned the manager to "keep her mouth shut" and then fired her in retaliation for her opposition to the abuse. The restaurant also threatened the manager when she participated in the EEOC investigation, including pressuring her to recant her testimony, according to the lawsuit.

"It is always shocking when a company owner engages in blatant and outrageous sexual harassment," said EEOC attorney Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.