Articles Posted in Employment Discrimination & Employee Rights

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above-the-bar-logo-no12Has a company refused to pay you for hours worked simply because it calls you as an unpaid intern? If so, you may have some rights and be owed money for the hours you worked. Contact our Award-Winning Employment Lawyers at (800) 893-9645 – we have counseled many workers who were misclassified as interns. Federal and state laws strictly regulate the relationship between a company and whether a worker can be classified as an unpaid intern. The Company must demonstrate all of the factors listed below to qualify for an exception under New York Labor Law (Note: the US Department of Labor uses only the first 6 factors below so the federal standard is not as rigid as state law). In order for a position to be legally classified as an unpaid internship under state law, the Company must demonstrate the following 11 factors are met – otherwise you should be paid for work performed:

1. The worker’s training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training that would be given in an educational environment.

This means the worker should be learning skills that useful industry wide and not just for a specific company. One of the positive factors, although not dispositive, is if the student receives academic credit from a school. Again, the focus here will be on whether the work environment is truly an educational format or just a method for the student to perform work that is traditionally done by an employee.

2. The training is for the benefit of the intern and not primarily for the company.

While company can receive some incidental benefit, the primarily benefit must belong to the intern. Again, conferring academic credit can be a positive factor (but not dispositive) towards showing a benefit to the intern.

3. The intern does not displace an employee and any work the intern does is under close supervision.

Companies cannot use interns to replace or displace new employees. Interns should be closely supervised in an educational setting. Using an intern is generally not as productive as an employee because the intern is supposed to be taught industry wide skills and not simply focused on performing tasks for the employer’s sole benefit.

4. The company should not derive an immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees or students and, on occasion, operations may actually be impeded.

This is similar to the issues discussed in the prior point. To repeat, the hallmark of a lawful relationship will be the educational nature of the working relationship, not the benefit to the company.

5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship and is free to take employment elsewhere in the same industry.

Generally, an internship should be for a set time period and used as a probationary employment period. If the internship is considered a trial period for permanent employment, the NYS Department of Labor may consider the intern was misclassified and should have been treated as an employee.

6. Interns must be been notified, by a clear letter, notice or agreement, that they will not receive any wages for such training and are not considered employees for minimum wage purposes.

This is critical and must be done prior to the start of the internship period. It is a good practice for the intern to sign and date acknowledgement of this notice.

7. The training must be performed under the supervision and direction of individuals knowledgeable and experienced in the activities being performed.

This again goes towards the heart of the analysis – is the intern receiving an educational benefit that is useful industry wide – An individual may be considered to have knowledge and experience in the industry if “[h]e or she is proficient in the area and in all activities to be performed by the trainee, and has adequate background, education and experience to fulfill the educational goals and requirements of the training program.” The supervisor should be experienced in supervising other workers. This should not be the first time the supervisor is acting in such a role.

8. The intern should not receive employee benefits.

If a worker receives employee benefits, there is strong argument that the worker should be treated as an employee and not an intern. Even if the company’s intent is good – no benefits should be provided – even small ones such as employee discounts or free trips.

9. The training must be general and benefit the worker industry wide and NOT be training just for the company.

This is similar to factor number number one.

10. The screening process for the internship is NOT the same as for employment, and does not appear to be for that purpose, but involves only criteria relevant for admission to an independent educational program.

Generally, internship applicants should not complete job applications but rather internship applications that are drafted towards an educational experience.

11. Advertisements for the program focus on terms of the training, rather than employment.

The advertisements must be clear that the position is an internship and not a job so there is misrepresentation.

If you believe your “internship” does not meet the preceding 11 factors or you have any questions, contact our Award-Winning NY Employment Lawyers at (800) 893-9645 for a confidential consultation to understand your options and rights.

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgFAQ: I was recently diagnosed with cancer and asked my employer for a six month leave of absence for medical treatment. My boss told me that I could take an unpaid leave of absence and that my job would be waiting for me when I was well enough to come back. A few weeks later, I was informed that my position was eliminated and that I did not have a job to come back to. Do I have a claim for disability discrimination?

Based on a review of further facts in your circumstances, our attorneys can determine whether you have a potential claim for disability discrimination. Our experienced Disability Discrimination Attorneys have helped many employees figure out if they have been discriminated against because of their disability as well as helped negotiate reasonable accommodations for their disability.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 makes it illegal for a private employer with 15 or more employees to discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities with respect to job applications, hiring, firing, training, promotions, and other aspects of employment. A qualified employee or a job applicant with a disability is one who with or without reasonable accommodation can perform the job’s essential functions. An employer is required to make a reasonable accommodation to an employee’s known disability if it does not impose an “undue hardship” on the employer’s business operations.

Your situation brings to mind a case recently settled by the EEOC with home improvement giant Home Depot. In the settlement, Home Depot agreed to paid $100,000 and provide other relief to resolve a lawsuit alleging disability discrimination. The EEOC had charged that the retailer had failed to provide a reasonable accommodation for a cashier with cancer at one of its stores and then terminated her employment because of her medical condition.

In Home Depot, the EEOC alleged that Judy Henderson, an employee of 13 years, requested an unpaid leave of absence for surgery to remove a tumor. Home Depot initially accommodated her disability by giving her unpaid leave and advised her that she would be fired if she didn’t advise the company of her status. Although Henderson provided medical documentation as to when she would have medical clearance to return to work, Home Depot told her she was being terminated because of lack of work. However, the retailer hired two cashiers after Henderson submitted documentation that she would be able to return to work soon.

The settlement also provides for Home Depot to provide anti discrimination training to all store managers, assistant store managers, and human resource staff as well as post a notice regarding the lawsuits resolution. EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. stated that “Employers must give unpaid leave as a reasonable accommodation unless they can prove it would be a signification cost or disruption to business.”

Given the sheer size of Home Depot as the world’s largest home improvement specialty retailer with sales in the billions, it was shameful to fire an employee about to come back to work after battling cancer. If you feel you have been discriminated against because of a disability or your employer has failed to reasonably accommodate your disability, call our Discrimination Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to determine if any of your rights have been violated.
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above-the-bar-logo.jpgFAQ: I own a construction business and have a blanket policy to not hire any job applicants who have an arrest or conviction record. Can I be sued for employment discrimination?

Yes. You are treading on very thin ice and can potentially be held liable for discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) just issued an updated Enforcement Guidance on the use of arrest and convictions by employers in making employment decisions. The Guidance sets forth the EEOC’s enforcement agenda regarding “disparate impact” claims of race and national origin discrimination and should therefore be seriously taken into account when using criminal records to make job decisions.

If you are using arrest and conviction records to screen out job applicants or make other employment decisions, rejected applicants may potentially hold you liable for discrimination under the theories of disparate treatment and disparate impact. A claim for disparate treatment can occur if you intentionally treat an employee differently because of his or her protected classification such as race or national origin. For example, if you reject an African American applicant for a position based on his or her criminal record but hire a similar White applicant with a comparable criminal record, this could amount to a claim for intentional disparate treatment.

A claim for disparate impact is different in the sense that it does not require evidence of discriminatory intent. You can be liable even if you are using a neutral practice or policy that you are applying to everyone but it has the effect of treating individuals in a protected category disproportionately. According to the EEOC, “national data supports a finding that criminal record exclusions have a disparate impact based on race and national origin . . .African Americans and Hispanics are incarcerated at rates disproportionate to their numbers in the general population.” Therefore, even if you apply your policy of excluding everyone with a criminal history to all applicants, the EEOC may still find that your policy is illegal if it results in a disproportionate number of African Americans or Hispanic applicants being rejected.

The EEOC advises that you should not apply a blanket rule to exclude every job applicant who has a criminal record. Instead, make individual determinations based on the applicant’s circumstances. For example, if the nature and gravity of the criminal offense was very serious and caused great harm, then excluding the applicant may be appropriate. Also consider how long ago the arrest or conviction took place. If the applicant committed the crime many years ago while he or she was a youth and has since held several jobs without incident, then the criminal record should not be as relevant as a recent conviction may be. Lastly, consider the type of job being applied for. For example, it may be reasonable to hire an alcoholic convicted of a DWI as a shoe salesman but certainly not as a bartender.

If you do decide to exclude an applicant based on his or her prior arrest or conviction, give the applicant an opportunity to explain the circumstances involving the criminal history. For example, you might learn that the individual was under duress and had a good reason for the crime or was falsely convicted. Most importantly, use your common sense and don’t rush to judgment to exclude any applicants without making an informed decision.
Our attorneys can help you make sure your employment practices are not in violation of any state or federal laws. We have conducted hundreds of training seminars as well as put policies and procedures in place to support employment decisions. Call our Employment Discrimination Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to help your company avoid any potential litigation.
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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo.jpgNew York City recently agreed to settle allegations of race discrimination and retaliation by an African American official working at the city’s Human Resources Administration (“HRA”). Sandra Glaves-Morgan had claimed in her lawsuit that the agency’s commissioner and others retaliated against her because she complained about contracting practices.

The City decided to settle the case for $750,000 after Glaves-Morgan won a jury trial in the U.S. Southern District Court of New York on her discrimination and retaliation claim. The jury awarded her $420,000 in compensatory damages, found that she was entitled to punitive damages, and awarded her legal fees which are estimated to be around $720,000. The settlement includes no admission of liability on the City’s part and was reached before the jury could deliberate on the punitive damages amount. If you have been discriminated against at your place of employment because of your race or sex, our attorneys can help you determine if you have a claim against your employer.

Glaves-Morgan is a naturalized citizen from Jamaica who graduated from Yale and has a law degree from Brooklyn Law School. After having worked at the Legal Aid Society, the state comptroller’s office, and the Board of Education, she began working at the HRA in 1995 as a deputy general counsel and was later appointed as chief contracts officer. Glaves-Morgan alleged that in that position, she felt that vendors whose employees were members of Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union were given preferential treatment in contracting.

Glaves-Morgan raised this issue in 2007 with the agency’s new commissioner, Robert Doar, who had just been appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. However, he later demoted her. She also alleged that every time her assignments and duties were taken from her, they went to somebody who was not African American. She was also told that her salary would be cut 20% and that she would be relocated to an office in Brooklyn, but that at least she would not be “cleaning washrooms.”

The City denied the charges and defended Doar as having a solid record of promoting minority groups, women, and people of color. The HRA’s spokeswoman, Connie Ress, stated that the allegations of discrimination against the agency officials were “wholly without merit.”

It is illegal to discriminate against an individual on the basis of their race, color, religion, national origin, or sex with respect to any aspect of employment, including firing, hiring, promotions, pay, layoff, training, or any other term or condition of employment. The law also prohibits retaliation against a person because he or she complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or took part in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

It is a shame that a city agency such as the Human Resources Administration which serves more than 3 million New Yorkers was found by a jury to have engaged in employment discrimination and retaliation. Unfortunately, race and sex discrimination exist even in a city as diverse as New York City. Don’t let race discrimination stop you from reaching your full potential at your place of employment. If you are being discriminated against at your workplace, call our Employment Discrimination Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to help you figure out your best course of action.
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above-the-bar-logo.jpgThe EEOC settled a religious discrimination lawsuit this week with AutoZone, Inc., a national distributor and retailer of automobile parts. The Agency had charged the company with violating federal law by subjecting its employee, Frank Mahoney Burroughs who had converted to the Sikh religion, to harassment and refused to accommodate his religious belief of wearing a turbin.

If you have been discriminated against at your place of employment because of your religious beliefs or practices or your employer has failed to reasonably accommodate your religious beliefs or practices, our attorneys can help you determine you best course of action to recover your workplace rights.

Burroughs alleged that the harassment began when he converted to Sikhism in 2009. The managers at the store refused to let him wear a turban and a kara, a bracelet, which are required for male Sikhs. He was also harassed and asked if he had joined al-Qaida and whether he was a terrorist. When customers referred to him as “Bin Laden” and made terrorist jokes, AutoZone did not intervene. When Burroughs complained and asked for an accommodation, he was fired.

The EEOC had filed the action in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Massachusetts in Boston in September 2010, alleging that Burroughs was discriminated against because of his religion and then retaliated against for complaining and asking for a reasonable accommodation. Earlier this year in January, after the court ruled that AutoZone did fail to accommodate Burrough’s need to wear a turbin, the company agreed to the consent decree.

The agreement provides for the payment of $75,000 and for AutoZone to adopt a policy prohibiting religious discrimination. It also requires the company to train its managers and human resource employees on religious discrimination and the new policy, report to the EEOC on how it is handling all requests for religious accommodation and complaints of religious harassment, distribute its new policy, and provide a notice about the consent decree to its 65,000 employees in its 4,500 stores across the country.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate against an individual because of his or her religion with respect to any aspect of employment including hiring, firing, pay, training, job assignment, promotion, layoff, or any other term or condition of employment. Religious discrimination occurs when you treat an employee or job applicant unfavorably because of their religious beliefs. You are protected whether you belong to a traditional, organized religion such as Christianity, Hinduism, or Judaism and even if you have sincere religious, ethical or moral beliefs.
It is also illegal to harass a person because of his or her religious beliefs. For example, offensive remarks about a person’s religious beliefs are considered harassment. Although simple teasing and isolated comments may be harmless, harassment may become illegal if it becomes so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision such as an employee being terminated.

Unless it would be an undue hardship on your company’s business operations, you must reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious belief and practices. This refers to schedule changes, leave for religious observance as well as dress or grooming practices related to a religious reason. For example, this could include wearing a Muslim headscarf, a Jewish yarmulke, or a not cutting your hair and beard if you are a Sikh male.

AutoZone’s failure to stop the harassment and refusal to accommodate their employee’s religious beliefs was clearly shameful and unreasonable. If you’re being harassed at your workplace because of your religious beliefs, call our Religious Discrimination Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to help you protect your rights at the workplace.
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above-the-bar-logo.jpgThe EEOC brought an action this week against telecommunication giant AT&T for allegedly discriminating against an employee because of her disability. The lawsuit has charged the company with not providing the employee a reasonable accommodation and then terminating her because of such disability.

Our attorneys have helped many individuals obtain reasonable accommodation for their disability as well as settle and successfully pursue claims of disability discrimination. If you have been discriminated against because of your disability, our attorneys can you help you figure out your best course of action.

The complaint alleges that Lupe Cardona, who was employed at AT&T as a corporate service representative in Indianapolis since 1984, asked for a finite leave of absence as a reasonable accommodation to get treatment for Hepatitis C. Without receiving the treatment, her disease would eventually have been fatal. AT&T gave her the requested leave when they learned about her disability and treatment. Accordingly, Cardona took her approved, paid medical leave from June 24 to October 24, 2010. Thereafter, having been treated successfully, her doctor allowed her to go back to work without any restrictions. Two days after coming back to work, AT&T fired her on the basis that her leave of absence violated their attendance policy.

AT&T would not give Cardona reasonable accommodation which they could easily have done by exempting her from their no-fault attendance policy. Before filing this lawsuit, the EEOC also tried reach a pre-litigation settlement. The EEOC’s suit seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and reinstatement of front pay as well as injunctive relief for the employee. The complaint also wants the court to issue an order stopping AT&T from failing to provide reasonable accommodation to disabled employees by counting absences which were caused by their disability as “chargeable,” or unprotected absences under its attendance policy.

EEOC trial attorney Patrick Holman stated that “The refusal of AT&T to make a perfectly reasonable exception to its draconian attendance policy to accommodate the known disability of an employee violated federal law as well as common sense and common decency.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act makes it illegal for private employers to discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities with respect to hiring, firing, promotions, compensation, training, and any other terms or conditions of employment. The Act applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments.

An individual with a disability is someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. A qualified individual with a disability is an individual, who with or without reasonable accommodation can perform the job’s essential functions.

The Act provides that an employer is required to make a reasonable accommodation to the known disability of a qualified individual if it would not impose an “undue hardship” on the operations of the business. An undue hardship may be posed if it requires great difficulty or expense when other factors such as the employer’s size, financial resources, and company structure are considered. For example, it may be an undue hardship for a company to buy modifying equipment costing tens of thousands of dollars if it is operating at a loss.

It is shocking that a company such as AT&T couldn’t reasonably accommodate a woman for her medical treatment who had been an employee for 16 years. Even if AT&T’s attendance policy is very strict, it was unreasonable not to make an exception in this case. If you have been discriminated against because of a disability or your employer has failed to provide you with a reasonable accommodation, call our Disability Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to help you protect your rights at the workplace.
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above-the-bar-logo.jpgA New Jersey District Court Judge this week denied Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals’ (“Bayer”) request to stop eight women from being considered for a class action. The complaint alleges violations under the Equal Pay Act and charges of discrimination in pay and promotions.

The women’s class action lawsuit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, back pay, front pay, lost benefits, compensatory, nominal and punitive damages in the amount of $100 million or more for all female employees similarly situated. The group of women holds positions which include that of Associate Director, Deputy Director, and Director in the Women’s Healthcare and Oncology Division. If you feel you have been discriminated against regarding any aspect of employment because of your sex, call our attorneys to determine the strength of your discrimination claims.

The women’s complaint was filed in March, 2011 and originally brought by 6 women on behalf of themselves and a class of female employees under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and New Jersey law. The complaint charged Bayer with a pattern and practice of discrimination in pay, promotions, and the treatment of pregnant women and mothers. The complaint set forth that Bayer has published and handed out articles that implied that men were better suited to be managers than women and described women as prone to “mood swings,” “indecision,” and “backstabbing.” It also stated that “women with power are loose cannons who often feel threatened by colleagues.” The complaint also alleged that senior managers made negative remarks about childcare responsibilities and passed over for promotions women who used maternity leave.

Before bringing this lawsuit, the women filed internal complaints which went unaddressed. After filing their complaint, Bayer’s managers told them that they should “know better” and that the “company won’t do anything about their complaints.” Bayer’s human resources department told the women that their complaints of gender discrimination should be handled by themselves and not the company.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in pay based on sex and the Equal Pay Act provides that men and women in the same workplace should be paid the same for doing the same work. Although the jobs do not need to be identical, they must be substantially equal. Both Acts cover every aspect of pay including salary, overtime pay, bonuses, stock options, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, as well as benefits and compensation. If you are earning less and doing the same work as a male employee in your company, your boss may not lower his wages to equalize your pay.

It is a shame that a multinational pharmaceutical giant such as Bayer refused to provide equal treatment to its female employees. Even in this day and age, sex discrimination blatantly exists. If you are earning less than your male counterpart or being passed up for promotions because of your sex or because you took your federally protected right to maternity leave, call our Gender Discrimination Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to help you recover your workplace rights.
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Update: Facebook has responded to this controversy: It is warning employers not to demand passwords of job applicants and employees because it is an invasion of privacy. The Company’s Chief Privacy Officer, tells applicants to never reveal their password to an employer.

above-the-bar-logo.jpgOur White Plains Employment Lawyers have been asked about whether employers should use social media in hiring decisions. Many employers have been reluctant to use Facebook or other social media sites to investigate prospective job applicants for fear of discrimination claims. For example, if an employer viewed and considered the contents of a candidate’s Facebook page and then rejected the applicant, the company could face an employment discrimination claim. Specifically, the prospective employee could allege that Company learned information about him or her that it is could not use in the hiring process (e.g., applicant’s race, age, gender, disability status, etc.). Despite the risk, some employers still prefer to view a candidate’s online profile. In order to minimize legal exposure, companies will assign a HR employee who is separate from the hiring manager to review a candidate’s online profile to verify it is consistent with the job application. Under this system, this HR employee does not speak with the hiring manager unless a red flag is detected such as a material misstatement in the employment application.

However, recently, many companies are taking a more aggressive approach towards social media and asking for employees to provide their personal passwords or allow access to private profiles on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to name just a few. Many applicants and employees believe that it is an invasion of privacy and have to balance a possible invasion of privacy versus possibly getting employment in a tough job market. Many Facebook users are creating two accounts, one for their personal use and one to provide to employers if asked. Employees have the right to refuse; however, private employers may have the right deny the employee employment or continued employment. Employers argue they have a legitimate need to view online profiles. For example, they may want to ensure that employees are not disparaging the company, its products or harassing other employees. In addition, studies have shown that a brief review of a candidate’s online profile can be very useful in revealing more information than a personality test.

More than ever, it is imperative for companies to have a well-crafted social media policy. Our attorneys have helped many companies develop and implement policies depending on their companies’ needs. These policies coupled with best practices can help many employers avoid costly litigation including claims of discrimination.

Illustration of an Organization Using Facebook: Last year, a corrections officer at Maryland’s Department of Corrections (“DOC”) complained to the ACLU that he was forced to provide his Facebook user name and password during an interview. The DOC wanted to make sure that they did not hire anyone affiliated with a gang. After the ACLU intervened, the DOC suspended the policy but came up with another one. Potential hires are now asked during their interviews to log into their Facebook accounts and allow the interviewer to watch the potential hire go through posts, friends, pictures and any other material that may be behind the privacy wall.

Of the 2,689 applicants it reviewed through social media, the Maryland DOC denied jobs to 7 of them because their sites contained pictures of them with gang signs. It also did offer jobs to 5 out of 80 employees hired in the last three hiring cycles who did not provide social media access. Access could be a double edged sword for employers.

Given the impact of social media’s influence on individuals’ lives as well as businesses, the use of social media in employment settings is evolving. Maryland and Illinois have proposed legislation that would make it illegal for employers to ask job applicants to provide passwords to their social media sites during job interviews. Perhaps other states will follow their lead. In the meantime, companies must be smart as to how they use social media. If you would like to discuss how your online profiles were used in your hiring situation, contact our Social Media Employment Law Attorneys at (800) 893-9645.
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above-the-bar-logo.jpgThe New York Federal District Court dismissed an age discrimination lawsuit against Walmart this week which charged the retail giant with discriminating against older workers. The Court ruled that the workers did not have enough statistical evidence to prove their claims.

Plaintiff Elsie Crowell and eight other workers filed a complaint against Walmart in 2010 seeking $20 million in damages. If you have been discriminated against at your place of employment because of your age, our lawyers can help you determine the strength of your claim. Our experienced attorneys have successfully tried as well as reached favorable settlements for various types of discrimination claims.

Crowell was a former personnel manager at the Walmart store in Monticello, New York. She and her co-workers had alleged that Walmart systematically replaced older workers with younger employees and also created a hostile work environment for the older workers. Crowell has stated that she witnessed “multiple occurrences of efforts by management to implement a reduction in the older members of the store’s work force by firing older employees and replacing them with younger employees.”

Crowell’s EEOC complaint had charged that Walmart allowed its younger workers to take their breaks in the middle of their shifts, while older workers were only allowed to take breaks at the end of their shift. As another example of discrimination, younger workers who did not follow the dress code were not penalized while older workers who slightly deviated were disciplined.

In dismissing the lawsuit, Judge George A. Yanthis found that “Simply stated, there is nothing in this record to suggest that Crowell’s supervisors or Wal-Mart management created working conditions that were so intolerable that they would have compelled a reasonable person in the same situation to retire.” Although this complaint was dismissed, this will not be the last complaint filed against Walmart for age discrimination.

Walmart has often been in the spotlight with various allegations of discrimination. In 2005, a Walmart executive vice president had proposed that the company redesign its health benefits to attract a “healthier, more productive workforce.” An internal memo was made public which stated that doing so could potentially save the company $670 million by 2011. Walmart has also been accused of removing their door greeters, who are typically older workers.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) prohibits age discrimination against people who are 40 or older with respect any aspect of employment including hiring, firing, promotions, training, layoffs, and any other terms or conditions of employment. It is also illegal to harass someone because of his or her age. Simple teasing, joking around, or isolated incidents may not be illegal except when they become frequent or severe as to create a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision.

Age discrimination is a growing concern because more and more people are finding it difficult to retire early. Individuals are working to an older age for a variety of reasons whether it is for health insurance, because their pensions or savings were wiped out in the market or simply because they want to work. If you have suffered from age discrimination at your place of employment, call our Age Discrimination Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to help you protect your workplace rights.
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above-the-bar-logo.jpgThe Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced this week that it has reached a $3 million settlement with federal contractors FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. and FedEx SmartPost Inc. (collectively referred to as “FedEx”) over allegations that they discriminated against job applicants at two dozen facilities in 15 states. Under the terms of the agreement, FedEx will also implement changes to correct any discriminatory hiring practices and give job offers to those who were rejected as positions become available.

The settlement covers a total of 21,635 rejected job applicants who will receive back wages and interest and as well as job offers to 1,703 individuals as they become available. Of the affected workers, 61 percent are female, 52 percent are African American, 14 percent are Hispanic, 2 percent are Asian, and 1 percent are Native American. If you have suffered from discrimination with respect to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, pay, benefits, or compensation, our attorneys can help you determine if you have a claim. Our attorneys have helped many individuals recover their workplace rights.

The DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which monitors the employment practices of the country’s 200,000 federal contractors, first found evidence that FedEx was discriminating on the basis of sex, race, and national origin in its hiring practices seven years ago. During scheduled reviews, the compliance office found that compared to similarly situated white applicants, there was discrimination against African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Native Americans. The review also showed discrimination against women who were automatically ruled out for jobs requiring heavy lifting.

The Director of the compliance office, Patricia A. Shiu, stated that audits revealed evidence of bias even where job applicants didn’t complain or realize that they had been discriminated against. The evidence consisted of a computer statistical analysis as well as interviews with job applicants and FedEx officials. Shiu stated that “Being a federal contractor is a privilege and means you absolutely, positively cannot discriminate, not when you are profiting from taxpayer dollars.”

In addition to the monetary settlement, FedEx has also agreed to correct any discriminatory hiring practices, train its employees, and implement self-monitoring measures to make sure that all hiring practices are legally compliant. It has also agreed to hire an outside consultant to conduct an extensive review of the company’s hiring practices and make recommendations to change and improve their practices, as well as train its supervisors and employees.

If you are a covered employer with government contracts, make sure you are in full compliance with all federal regulations. FedEx did not admit to any wrongdoing in this case and did not feel that it engaged in any discriminatory practices. However, the statistical numbers showed a different story. Whether or not FedEx was engaged in discriminatory hiring practices, it still incurred the cost of settling and now having to make expensive changes throughout the company.

Our attorneys have helped many businesses make sure that all their employment practices are in accord with state and federal laws. Our attorneys have also conducted training seminars to help companies prevent unnecessary litigation. If you have contracts with the government, call our Employment Discrimination Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to discuss how we can help you make sure your company is in full compliance with all state and federal laws.
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