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Harassment on A Large Scale in City Government

By Peter Levine posted in Law, Sexual Harassment on September 3rd, 2013

Seventeen Women allege Sexual  Harassment

In the past weeks, starting on July 10, at least 17 women have alleged harassment saying the 70-year-old former Congressman and current San Diego Mayor, Bob Filner, made unwanted sexual advances.

Irene McCormack Jackson, the mayor’s former press secretary, was the first woman since the scandal broke to bring a lawsuit against the mayor, claiming that the mayor had harassed her. An 11-page suit, filed in San Diego County Superior Court, accuses Filner on one occasion of placing McCormack Jackson in what she described as a virtual “head lock” – while he suggested they get married and asked, “Wouldn’t it be great if we consummated the marriage?” The complaint quotes Filner on a separate occasion, in the press secretary’s City Hall office, as telling her, “When are you going to get naked? Come on and give me a kiss.”

“I had to work and do my job in an atmosphere where women were viewed by Mayor Filner as sexual objects or stupid idiots. I saw him place his hands where they did not belong on numerous women,” McCormack Jackson has said.

McCormack Jackson was hired by Filner in January but resigned in June and is now director of communications for another city department.

“I am saddened by the charges that were leveled against me”

In response to the lawsuit Filner has said, “I am saddened by the charges that were leveled against me. Once due process is allowed to unfold, I am certain there will be a better understanding of this situation. I remain committed to the people of San Diego and the work that needs to be done. My dreams and plans for moving this City to new heights are continuing.”

Calls for Filner’s resignation began on July 11, when former San Diego city councilwoman and fellow Democrat Donna Frye joined two attorneys in leveling allegations that at least one woman had accused the mayor of harassing her.

Filner responded then by acknowledging that he had “failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and that at times I have intimidated them.”
A number of prominent local Democrats have also publicly urged Filner to quit.

Filner resigned Friday August 30. A special election to replace him has been set for November 19.

Workers Ticketed by Police While Protesting Work Conditions

By Peter Levine posted in Employment Law, Law on September 2nd, 2013

Ticketed strikers refused to leave in order to send a message

Ten current and former Walmart workers and two organizers were ticketed by police outside the retailer’s Washington, D.C., office during a protest over working conditions.

OUR Walmart, an affiliate of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, is spear-heading the strikes and said most of the workers had taken part in recent high-profile strikes and as a result later lost their jobs.

A D.C. police spokeswoman said the protesters were cited for “blocking passage” after refusing to disperse from the sidewalk during the demonstration.

Cindy Murray, an employee at the retailer’s store, reported she and her fellow strikers had refused to leave in order to send a message. Murray said they were protesting what OUR Walmart claims were 20 firings as well as dozens of disciplinary actions that occurred as a result of the worker strikes that started on Black Friday 0f 2012.

“We stood our ground. We felt Walmart needs to know how we truly feel about what we’re doing,” said Murray. “Our demands were that they take back what they did to our 60 workers, and we’re giving them until Labor Day to do that.”

They were fired as a result of violating Walmart’s attendance policy

Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesman, disputed the claims that the workers in question had been retaliated against, and said they were fired as a result of violating the company’s attendance policy and not because they had gone on strike or took part in protests.

“No associate has ever been retaliated against at Walmart for raising concerns, nor would they be,” Lundberg said. “Many of these associates didn’t show up for days.”

Walmart workers participated in scattered strikes during last year’s Thanksgiving shopping season, calling for higher pay, better access to health care coverage, and more reliable work hours.

OUR Walmart has filed unfair labor practice charges against Walmart on behalf of workers who lost their jobs. The current and former employees who were later detained visited the D.C. headquarters of the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that enforces labor law and investigates such charges.

According to Murray, the workers presented an NLRB official with a petition in support of their cause that included 180,000 signatures.

Murray said OUR Walmart plans to escalate its public protests if the disciplinary actions against strikers aren’t reversed.
“We want every worker that they fired due to our strike to be reinstated,” she said.

Murray, a 13-year Walmart veteran, said she earns $12.40 per hour. The $100 ticket she received Thursday for “blocking passage” is almost exactly equal to a day’s wages.

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