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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Atlanta moves to pay former parking enforcement officers $90K

In 2008, the city of Atlanta laid off 21 parking enforcement employees in a move toward privatization and the hiring of PARKatlanta.

Now, three years later, Atlanta is stuck with the ticket. The city’s Law Department has recommended that the city dish out a total of $90,000 to the former employees who were fired to make room for PARKatlanta.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in July 2009 that the employees -- fired in May 2008 -- had hired a lawyer in an effort to get their jobs back.

The City Council still has to approve the payout.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Segregation, Slurs And Noose Charges Launched At Oil Company

BATON ROUGE, La — About 230 current and former employees at a Louisiana-based oil services company have filed a civil rights lawsuit, saying they were forced to work in facilities where racist graffiti, slurs and discrimination are commonplace.

The lawsuit was filed this week in a Texas federal court against Turner Industries Group LLC, which is headquartered in Baton Rouge and has denied any harrassment or discrimination.

Black workers said Tuesday that they’ve complained for more than a decade about nooses hung in workplaces, racial slurs, segregated bathrooms and unequal treatment in Turner facilities in Louisiana and Texas. They said company supervisors and officials did little or nothing about the complaints and, in some instances, retaliated against the black employees for complaining.

Yvonne Turner, who said she has worked for the company at sites in both states, described showing up at a Sulphur, La., work site where a protective suit was stuffed, tagged with her name and hung from a noose. She said a supervisor laughed when told about it.

“I’m fed up. I’m tired,” she said after a news conference held with local civil rights leaders. “We’re not here trying to get money. We’re not here trying to cause trouble. We’re here for justice.”

Another woman, Cheryl Falola, described traveling to a work location where employees were separated by race and the black employees were sent home and replaced with white workers. She said at a different site she was repeatedly harassed by a white man who was working with her.

“Every day I would go to work he would throw racial slurs,” Falola said. “My stomach was hurting and knotting up because I know I have to work with that every day.”

In a statement, Turner said many of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit no longer work for Turner and some never worked for the company.

The company blamed a “lengthy campaign by plaintiffs’ attorneys in New York and Texas” for the lawsuit and said its records show few of those participating in the lawsuit ever reported discrimination complaints to the company.

“Make no mistake, Turner Industries stands for diversity and inclusion for all. Our record supports that. We intend to defend our company and the jobs of our 15,000 employees who are employed in various divisions of the company,” Roland Toups, Turner Industries’ chairman and CEO, said in the statement.

In April 2010, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that black workers at the Turner Industries plant in Paris, Texas, were taunted with slurs, intimidation tactics and symbols of discrimination and were given lower-paying jobs and denied promotions. The EEOC said Turner managers were aware of the hostile work environment but didn’t make changes.

At the time, Turner issued a statement saying it disagreed with the findings and its own investigation didn’t find discrimination. Toups said the company has asked employees to make sure its facilities are compliant with anti-harassment policies.

“If there is a problem, we want to know about it so that it can be addressed,” he said.

James Vagnini, one of the lawyers representing the workers, said the lawsuit was filed because Turner did nothing to address the EEOC findings.

“Just three weeks ago, more nooses are up,” Vagnini said.

He said after the EEOC report, he received hundreds of complaints from current and former Turner employees who had worked in Turner facilities in Port Allen, Sulphur and Monroe, La., and in Paris and Beaumont, Texas.

At Tuesday’s news conference, lawyers for the workers handed out photos that showed racial epithets and swastikas scrawled on desks and bathroom walls and three nooses hung at what they said were different Turner job sites.

The lawsuit says black employees were forced to do dangerous tasks that white workers refused to perform and were passed over for better jobs in favor of white employees. The lawsuit says the discrimination grew worse after President Obama was elected.

The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District federal court in Texas.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fiancé of Person Filing a Charge of Discrimination Protected From Employer’s Retaliatory Action, Court Rules

LEGAL BRIEF: Supreme Court Upholds EEOC’s Retaliation Reach
This legal brief is important because it's a reminder that acts of discrimination and/or retaliation can go beyond the initial target and impact other workers. Many people find romance/love in the workplace. So, it's not uncommon to have people who are married or dating at the same job, even if they don't work in the same department. This legal brief is about the fiancé of woman who ended up terminated about 3 weeks after SHE filed a complaint of discrimination against her employer. That's pretty strong evidence that something strange was up. The time between the act that the woman took in filing the complaint and him being fired is extremely short and suggests that the two events are connected. See below:
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Fiancé of Person Filing a Charge of Discrimination Protected From Employer’s Retaliatory Action, Court Rules

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court ruled on January 24th that the fiancé of a woman who filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), was protected from retaliation by their mutual employer and had standing to redress this illegal act. In a unanimous opinion, Thompson v. North American Stainless, LP, No. 09-291, the Supreme Court held that long-standing EEOC interpretations of the scope of the anti-retaliation provision of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) applied to an individual harmed by retaliation, even if that person had not himself filed a charge of discrimination.

In Thompson, Miriam Regalado filed a charge of discrimination against her employer, North American Stainless (NAS). Three weeks after receiving notice of the charge from the EEOC, NAS fired Regalado’s fiancé, Eric Thompson, who also worked there. Thompson then filed his own charge, claiming his termination was in retaliation for Regalado’s initial charge. After the district court in Kentucky and the entire Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Thompson could not raise a retaliation claim because he himself had not filed a charge of discrimination, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and issued its decision reversing the lower courts’ opinions.

“We are very pleased with the Supreme Court opinion issued today,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. “The unanimous decision reaffirms the importance of preventing retaliation against those seeking to protect their civil rights.”

This past fiscal year, the EEOC received more charges alleging retaliation than any other basis, supplanting race discrimination charges for the first time in its 45-year history as the most numerous.

The EEOC enforces the federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information about the EEOC can be obtained at www.eeoc.gov.

Source: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/1-24-11.cfm

Northwest Cosmetic Labs Settles Discrimination Suit

Company Fired Black British Intern Because of Race and Color, Federal Agency Charged

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – Northwest Cosmetic Labs has agreed to settle a federal suit charging discrimination based on race, color and national origin and retaliation against a black employee for $30,000 and other relief, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced on January 13th.

According to the complaint, the employee, a British subject born in Zimbabwe, was hired after a series of phone interviews for a full-time paid internship in cosmetic formulation. She did not interview in person because she was living in England at the time. Upon her arrival in Idaho Falls, she was told by her supervisor that employees at the company would likely be “surprised” to find out that she was black, since she was British. From the beginning, the EEOC said, she received little to no direction from her supervisors and was rarely given assignments, despite her repeated requests to be given work. Her treatment stood in stark contrast to that of the company’s two other interns, who were both Caucasian. They were given ample opportunity to participate in projects and to receive feedback from supervisors. After consistently receiving different treatment from her white counterparts and hearing more race-based comments, she raised these issues with management. Soon thereafter, the EEOC said, she was fired.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed this suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through conciliation. Under the consent decree settling the suit (EEOC v. Northwest Cosmetic Labs LLC, Civil Action No. 10-608-CWD, U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho) approved by Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale, Northwest Cosmetic Labs will pay the employee $30,000. In addition to the monetary payment, the company will adopt a comprehensive non-discrimination policy and complaint procedure, conduct anti-discrimination training for staff and management officials and submit semi-annual reports to the EEOC detailing any complaints of race discrimination or retaliation that may have arisen in the prior six-month period.

EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo said, "Employment decisions must be based on merit and ability, not race and color. We are pleased that Northwest Cosmetic Labs took this lawsuit seriously and that it will be taking steps to make sure that race and color are not a barrier to success in its workplace.”

“Instead of encountering the exemplary American values of justice and equality, this young visitor was treated to discrimination and punishment for standing up for her rights,” noted EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado. “Fortunately, this country also has an EEOC to fight for discrimination victims, and we will continue to do so.”

Located in Idaho Falls, Northwest Cosmetic Labs formulates and manufactures cosmetic products for third-party customers based throughout North America, Europe and Australia.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

Source: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/1-13-11.cfm