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.

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

Employer Pays $200,000 to Settle Anti-Pregnancy Policy Case

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A Tennessee caregiving company has agreed to pay $200,000 to settle a pregnancy bias lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, since at least 2010, the employer had required its female employees to sign a pregnancy policy during orientation. The policy provided that their employment terminated at the fifth month of pregnancy. The EEOC further alleged that the employer enforced its policy against multiple women by terminating them due to their pregnancy, despite their ability to effectively perform their job duties.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes clear that bias against applicants or employees on the basis of childbirth, pregnancy, or related medical conditions constitutes illegal sex discrimination. Additionally, while pregnancy itself is not considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), conditions associated with pregnancy — including back pain, gestational diabetes, and pregnancy-induced high blood pressure — may be.

Pregnant employees who are able to continue performing their jobs must be permitted to do so. If a pregnant employee is temporarily unable to perform her job, she must be treated the same as any other temporarily disabled employee in terms of opportunities for modified work tasks, light duty, alternative assignments, disability leave or unpaid leave.

Learn more about pregnancy bias and pregnancy discrimination laws.

$334,500 Age Discrimination Verdict Against Time Warner Cable Upheld on Appeal

ADEA - Age Discrimination in Employment Act

ADEA - Age Discrimination in Employment Act

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has let stand a $334,500 jury verdict for a 61-year-old employee who the company fired over a single incident of backdating a form.

The Plaintiff, Glenda Westmoreland, had worked for a Time Warner Cable subsidiary for more than 30 years, was fired after instructing a subordinate to backdate a form to reflect the date of a related meeting, rather than the date the form was actually completed. TWC initially told her the infraction wasn't serious but later concluded that she had violated company policy prohibiting false statements and created "trust and integrity" issues. While walking her to her car, a supervisor told the Plaintiff, "You’ll get another job. Just go home and take care of those grandbabies.” Westmoreland sued, alleging age discrimination.

A jury found for Westmoreland and, on appeal, the 4th Circuit upheld the verdict. TWC’s "about face" on the disciplinary matter could give rise to a "suspicion of mendacity" about the company’s rationale for firing her, the court said. It also noted that company representatives had testified that there were lesser forms of discipline available. As a result, the court said, the jury could reasonably find that Westmoreland’s firing for one infraction that did not require termination was "such an extreme overreaction as to be pretextual." In addition, the jury could have found that the "grandbabies" comment was made by a supervisor who harbored age bias, the court said.

Age discrimination in employment is illegal, but two-thirds of older job seekers report encountering it. Employees between the ages of 46 and 65 (especially those nearing retirement age) are the most likely to be targeted. Those employees are often let go by employers who perceive them to be more expensive and less valuable than younger replacements.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) exists to protect individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. The ADEA's protections apply to both employees and job applicants. Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment -- including, but not limited to, hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training.

You can read the full 4th Circuit opinion here.

IHOP Franchises Agree to Pay $700K and to Create an HR Department to Settle Sex Harassment Suit

IHOP Franchises Settle Sexual Harassment Suit

IHOP Franchises Settle Sexual Harassment Suit

Several IHOP franchises have agreed to pay $700,000 after the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued them, alleging they failed to prevent or correct continual sexual harassment and retaliation against employees (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Lucinda Management, LLC, et al.No. 2:17-cv-02458 (D. Nev. Feb. 19, 2019)). They will also have to create an HR department of professionals with experience handling and preventing discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

The franchises created a hostile work environment for employees after they ignored worker complaints about harassment, EEOC alleged in its complaint. Furthermore, the restaurants allegedly retaliated against some of the employees who spoke up about the problems, behavior which included reducing work hours, groundless discipline and termination. One restaurant, the complaint said, fired an employee after the worker reported seeing a cook "regularly touch female food servers' genitals and kiss them."

The restaurants also agreed to stop using a “72-hour sexual harassment policy”, which required employees to submit complaints of sexual harassment in writing within 72 hours. This had the obvious effect of preventing valid claims of harassment from being investigated and remedied.

As a part of the settlement agreement, the franchises will work with an EEO monitor who will, among other things, ensure any harassment-related policies, procedures and practices comply with Title VII and the consent decree's requirements.

Read more here…