Jury Whacks Walmart with $5.2 Million Verdict In Favor of Disabled Worker

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A federal jury in Wisconsin awarded a disabled Walmart Inc. employee $5.2 million in damages, finding that the retail chain had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it refused to accommodate the long-time worker.

The employee, who has a developmental disability and is deaf and visually impaired had worked as a cart pusher at the store for 16 years before a new manager started at the store. The new store manager suspended the employee in his first month and forced him to resubmit medical paperwork to keep his reasonable accommodations, according to the lawsuit. The store then fired the employee.

Last week a Wisconsin jury found in the employee’s favor after a 3½-day trial and awarded him $200,000 in compensatory damages and an additional $5 million in punitive damages. Sadly, this amount will likely be reduced by operation of the statutory damages caps found in the ADA. These caps have not been adjusted for inflation in almost 30 years.

Does the ADA Require Business Websites to be Accessible?

Domino’s Seeks SCOTUS Review

Domino’s Seeks SCOTUS Review

In January the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision allowing a blind plaintiff to proceed with his ADA Title III lawsuit against Domino’s Pizza for having an allegedly inaccessible website and mobile app.  The court determined that allowing the claim to move forward was not a violation of Domino’s due process rights, even though the ADA and its regulations contain no definition of, or technical specifications for, “accessible” public accommodations websites. It now appears that Domino’s is planning to try to take the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Domino’s recently requested a 60 day extension of time to file a petition with the Supreme Court asking for it to review the case. The request was granted by Justice Kagan. Domino’s Petition for Certiorari is now due on June 14, 2019.

This is an important issue to many. From the business-side of the fence, companies are facing an increasing number of lawsuits relating to the accessibility of their websites while they have not received much guidance from the courts or the Department of Labor as to what they are required to do in order to make their websites properly accessible. For those with certain disabilities, the transition of much or our day-to-day commerce from brick and mortar stores to the online world has increasingly left them out.

It is an important issue that deserves attention from both the courts and the Department of Labor.

Read Domino’s Motion Here.

UPDATE: In an order dated October 7, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Domino’s appeal. This means that, at least for now, the Ninth Circuit’s decision stands.

State of Michigan Hammered with a $11 Million Dollar Verdict in Race and Retaliation Case

Genesee County Courthouse

Genesee County Courthouse

A Michigan jury awarded more than $11 million this month to a husband-and-wife pair who sued the Michigan Department of Corrections, alleging claims of race discrimination, hostile work environment and retaliation.

A six-member all-white jury delivered its unanimous verdict after a six-week trial that included 41 witnesses and hinged on allegations of racial discrimination and retaliation. The plaintiff alleged that she was racially harassed on a daily basis including being called 'Mammy', (being) asked if she wanted chitlins on her pizza, called the "black one" in her all-white office, and told she was not wanted in the all-white office. She also claimed she was put into life-threatening situations after complaining about racism.

The plaintiff had worked for the state for 19 years. Because of the work environment, the plaintiff transferred to another office, but she said the race discrimination and retaliation continued. Her husband also was allegedly forced to retire from his job as a deputy warden when phony disciplinary charges were brought against him. The jury awarded the plaintiff $5.1 million and her husband $6.25 million.

Read More: Detroit News

Learn More About Racial Discrimination and Retaliation

UPS Will Pay $2.25 Million to Settle EEOC Pregnancy Discrimination Claim

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United Parcel Service, Inc. (“UPS”), the world's largest package delivery company, will pay $2.25 million and clarify its pregnancy accommodation policies to resolve a pregnancy discrimination charge that was investigated by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced last week. The settlement stems from a claim brought by a UPS driver who alleged that the company's refusal to provide light duty as an accommodation to pregnant workers violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The EEOC's investigation uncovered other incidents beyond the initial Charging Party where pregnant women were not given light duty or provided other accommodations, according to a statement from the EEOC.

The Commission said that, until 2015, UPS provided accommodations to workers injured on the job, those with driving restrictions and those with disabilities. However, the package delivery service did not provide accommodations to pregnant women.

Discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, is a prohibited form of sex discrimination. While the Pregnancy Discrimination Act doesn't require accommodations per se, it does require that employers treat women affected by pregnancy or related medical conditions the same as non-pregnant applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work. Thus, if a company provides accommodations for health conditions other than pregnancy, it must provide equal treatment of pregnancy and health conditions related to pregnancy.

This means that pregnant workers must be provided with the same access to light duty that other employees receive. It also means that pregnant women cannot be excluded from light duty or denied it at a higher rate than other employees.

Read the EEOC’s Press Release Here.

Learn More: Pregnancy Discrimination Info

Another Age Discrimination Lawsuit Filed Against Google: "Go tell Grandpa to pick up the pace."

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A 72-year-old former Google employee has sued the company, claiming he experienced numerous instances of age-based harassment, discrimination and intimidation according to filed court documents.

The Plaintiff, Rodney Broome, alleges multiple insults and threats were made by his supervisor who said Broome was "in retirement mode" and would "be leaving soon." The supervisor also reportedly made comments to others, directing them, for example to "go tell Grandpa to pick up the pace." Broome also said he was told he would soon be having "car trouble." Coincidentally, Broome’s car and house were broken into soon thereafter. The supervisor also allegedly made Broome move heavy piles of materials by himself and took chairs away from Broome and other older employees.

Broome said he complained to both his supervisor's boss and to HR, but the harassment continued and he then allegedly suffered retaliation in the form of poor performance reviews, reduced bonuses and physical threats, among other things. He eventually quit, citing stress and health concerns.

This suit follows the settlement of a large class-action age discrimination case against Google. In late July, it was reported that Google settled a class-action, age discrimination lawsuit. As a part of the settlement, approximately 200 job seekers over the age of 40, who applied for positions at Google, would receive a settlement of $11 million. Also as a part of the settlement, the company was required to train employees and management about age bias.

If the allegations in this most recent lawsuit prove to be true, it would seem that the training didn’t stick.

Click Here to Learn More About Age Discrimination.

Momentum Builds For Ending Forced Arbitration: House Votes The FAIR Act Out Of Committee

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Taking a monumental step forward for workers, on Tuesday, September 10, the House Judiciary Committee marked up and approved (22-14) the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act (FAIR Act) (H.R. 1423). The House is expected to vote on the bill as soon as this week. Congress has never before voted on a comprehensive bill to end forced arbitration.

The FAIR Act would open the courthouse doors and restore workers' access to America's civil justice system. Among other things, the FAIR Act would make it unlawful for employers to impose arbitration on workers, unless the worker knowingly and voluntarily agrees to arbitration after a dispute arises or pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement. The FAIR Act bans arbitration in consumer, civil rights, employment, and antitrust disputes. The bill addresses many issues that are important in ensuring that workers are not bound by forced arbitration clauses.