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EEOC: Buffalo employee fired after standing up for hiring black worker

By Peter Levine posted in Discrimination, Employment Law, Law on September 29th, 2013

Production manager fired for hiring recommendation

According to a federal lawsuit, Myrna Peltonen, a production manager lost her job at Izza Bending Tube & Wire, a small industrial company for defending her recommendation that a temporary black worker be permanently hired after logging 500 hours with the company.

When the owner of the company, Scott Landgraf, rebuffed the recommendation, he punctuated his point with racist language, and also told Peltonen to let the worker go, alleges the suit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Peltonen was demoted to an office position and had her pay cut when she refused to let the worker go.

The worker, Randall L. Smith, “worked hard and deserved the opportunity for a full-time permanent position with benefits at Izza,” says Peltonen. “This case is about doing what is right and taking a stand against intolerance. Mr. Smith deserved better. Everyone at Izza deserved better.?”

Peltonen then also escalated to Creative Staffing Solutions, the temporary employment agency that placed Smith, about what Landgraf had said. She also told Smith.

The owner of the staffing agency, Rose Vaughn suggested to Smith that he be fired, and she then gave Izza a false reason for why Smith would not be working there anymore. The agency also stopped trying to find work for Smith.

Discrimination charge filed

Peltonen filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC a couple of weeks later. She was then fired from Izza after having been with the company for about 14 months.

The EEOC hopes to win back pay as well as force Izza to put in place an anti-retaliation policy that complies with federal law.
“Myrna Peltonen was a woman who felt she was just doing her job, and did not want to make a fuss,” says Jean Kamp, an associate regional attorney for the EEOC. ” But she felt that this was wrong and that she had to become involved. The EEOC will support such a woman as strongly as we can.”

Officers at LAPD file high number of employment related lawsuits

By Scott posted in Employment Law on August 16th, 2013

More than 250 police officers have filed lawsuits against the Los Angeles Police Department since 2005 for employment law violations like discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation. At this point 45 have been settled, while others are in the appeals process and others are still pending.

In addition to the high number of lawsuits being filed, between 2005 and 2010 the city has also spent quite a bit of money, reportedly paying out more than $18 million, with some officers walking away with five or even six figure payments.

One such case was from a lawsuit filed by a canine handler for the police department. She claimed that male officers had made inappropriate sexual comments and advances toward her, and had also excluded her from certain training exercises. She ended up suing the department, and in 2009 city officials settled her claim by paying her $2.25 million.

However, it didn’t stop there are as two other officers also claimed to have been retaliated against for sticking up for the woman. A canine handler who had worked with the woman claimed he was expelled from the unit and had his ranked stripped for defending the woman, and a sergeant also claimed to have been retaliated against after he refused to change the woman’s performance evaluation.

In both of those cases the city refused to settle, and in court both of the officers won their cases with the other canine handler being awarded $2.5 million, and the supervisor receiving close to $750,000 in damages.

The Police Protective League, which serves as the union for rank-and-file officers, sees the lawsuits as indicative of a greater problem within the department, and city officials are now calling for the department to do more in terms of workplace conflict resolution measures in order to avoid such a large number of expensive lawsuits.

Source: San Jose Mercury News, “Report: LA pays big bucks in LAPD workplace suits,” 8 May 2011

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