City to pay former clerk $150,000 to dismiss whistleblower claim

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

Whistleblower claims can go to court whenever there is some sort of corruption suspected, and an employee is retaliated against in any way for reporting those believed to be illegal activities. This means that cities can be sued, as well as large corporations and even small individually owned businesses.

One city learned this first hand after a former city clerk filed a whistleblower lawsuit after reporting what she believed to be illegal activities that the mayor was partaking in.

According to the woman’s lawsuit, she was fired from her position in December of 2009 after she reported to the state’s department of law enforcement that the mayor was charging the city for personal expenses – like a cell phone bill and a trip – without reimbursing the city. In addition, the former clerk also discovered that the mayor was not being forced to pay certain utility bills, like his city cable or water.

After reporting these findings, she was fired, and the city’s mayor told the state’s department of law enforcement that the charges were honest mistakes.

An investigation into the charges also decided that he was not purposely attempting to charge the city for his own personal gains.

In the end, the city decided to settle with the former city clerk and will pay her $150,000 in exchange for her dropping the whistleblower lawsuit. According to sources, the settlement does not equate to the city of mayor admitting guilt in any way.

Cases like this former clerk’s happen all the time throughout the country, including in California. Luckily, employees do have rights, and if they suffer from any type of retaliation after reporting what they believe to be illegal activities, there are legal actions that can be taken against that place of employment.

Employment Lawyer Los Angeles – Peter K. Levine

Source: The Walton Sun, “City paying $150K to settle whistleblower lawsuit,” 7 March 2011

Three California police officers suing for discrimination

By Scott posted in Discrimination on August 16th, 2013

California police officers appear to be facing wide-spread discrimination lately. Earlier this week, we talked about a California lieutenant in Concord who recently settled his retaliation lawsuit with the department. Now, we will talk about three Latino officers who say they have been passed up for multiple promotions on the basis of their race.

Three officers with the Westminster Police Department has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that they are suffering from race discrimination. In particular, they argue that they have been passed over for promotions, with the department opting to promote less experienced white officers over them.

One plaintiff gave a specific example of his application for a detective position a few years ago. The Latino officer is a U.S. Marine Corps major and has received many positive performance reviews while on the police force. Despite his credentials, the position was given to a white candidate with no military experience, no college degree and only one year on the job as an officer.

The Latino officer described that “it’s glaring to the point where I can’t figure out anything else except discrimination.” Together, the three men say that they have been denied at least 30 promotions. Most of the time, they say, officers who had less experience and fewer qualifications were given the positions over the Latino officers.

Of the 90 police officers in the Westminster Police Department, only 12 are Latino. Three of them are involved in this lawsuit, which they hope will cause the department to correct its discriminatory practices. They men are requesting monetary damages as well as promotions to the positions they have been passed over for.

Sexual Harassment Attorney Los Angeles – Peter K. Levine

Source: San Jose Mercury News, “Police officers file employer discrimination suit,” Amy Taxin, 2 March 2011

Despite Equal Pay Act, Women are Still Paid Less in California

By Scott posted in Discrimination on August 16th, 2013

Nearly half a century ago, women made great strides in advocating for equality and the Equal Pay Act was enacted with the goal of abolishing sex discrimination when establishing wages. Almost 50 years later, a wage gap continues to exist in California.

According to data collected by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Department of Labor, women who worked full time, a minimum of 35 hours per week, in 2009 were still paid 20 percent less than their male counterparts were. The average salary for women was $657 while men earned on average $819 per week.

While some women made much more than the average, gaps existed in each level of employment. Women who worked in management, held positions as chief executives, compliance officers and other positions of authority made 72.7 percent of what the men made in the same classification group.

Not only are women in similar jobs are paid overall less, but entire job sectors that are considered to be stereotypically suitable for women receive less compensation. Those jobs include teachers as well as the food preparation industry.

According to the data, sex discrimination continues to exist. In one study, researchers found that sex discrimination was not only exhibited by employers, but by customers as well. The research study was based upon customer satisfaction responses after observing a male and female “worker” who said the exact same words and made the exact same motions as one another in a video. The study found that 19 percent of customers gave the male a higher “satisfaction” rating.

Source: Around Dublin “Gender Wage Gap Still Exists in California” 1/6/11

Discrimination lawsuit filed against California nursing facility

By Scott posted in Discrimination on August 16th, 2013

A former kitchen worker at a California nursing facility has filed a lawsuit against her former employer claiming that Manor Care and its owners and operators failed to look into her complaints of race discrimination and sexual harassment, and even went as far as to encourage the degrading work environment. The woman also claims that other female workers were also forced to work in the hostile and offensive work environment.

According to the lawsuit, the former kitchen worker was employed by Manor Care in California from 1999 to 2010. During that time she was frequently harassed because she is Asian, and the kitchen manager supposedly allowed other male staff to sexually demean the female employees.

In addition she claims that at some points she was physically assaulted by other co-workers kicking food carts into her, and that some co-workers even went as far as to throw food at her. Other co-workers also supposedly degraded the woman with racial and ethnic slurs.

The lawsuit claims that the former employee did not speak up sooner about the discrimination and harassment because she was afraid of retaliation, but when her daughter did send an email to Manor Care complaining about the way her mother was being treated at work, the nursing facility retaliated by having the former employee work an extra two hours per week.

The lawsuit goes on to say that in August of 2010, the former employee ended up suffering from a panic attack while at work, but that Manor Care failed to provide any medical attention to her. A week later the women ended up resigning from the job she had for 11 years because of the working conditions she had been subjected to and the fact that the facility supposedly did nothing to deter the discrimination and harassment from happening.

The lawsuit is seeking an unspecified amount in punitive and economic damages, and claims that due to the harassment the woman suffered from anxiety, panic attacks, muscle spasms, digestive problems and depression.

Source: Reuters, “Former nursing home worker claims race, gender harassment,” Linda Coady, 9 may 2011

Driver awarded $1.5 million in California sexual harassment case

By Scott posted in Sexual Harassment on August 16th, 2013

A former truck driving trainee has won a $1.5 million judgment in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against CRST Expedited and its parent company, CRST International. The 45-year-old who had worked out of the company’s California terminal claimed that she had been assigned to a driving trainer who had touched her inappropriately and made sexually suggestive comments, and that the company did nothing to deter the behavior.

According to the sexual harassment lawsuit, after a mandatory 28-day training session the woman trainee quit just one day after getting her first assignment. She said the emotional turmoil experienced during the training forced her leave and search for another line of work.

The court ruling, which included more than $1.1 million for punitive damages allowed under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, found the trucking company failed to prevent a hostile working environment by allowing the trainer to make verbal and physical sexual advances.

The chief executive officer of CRST International said the company plans to appeal.

This lawsuit was also not the first time that CRST Expedited has come under scrutiny for failing to protect female truck drivers from other male employees. Even just last year the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had filed a class action lawsuit against the company for similar complaints, however, that case was dismissed due to the EEOC’s legal procedures that were used.

However, since then, another claim has also been filed against the trucking firm by a married couple who had wanted to work together as a team for CRST Expedited. The pair filed a complaint that a trainer had made improper sexual advances toward the wife, and had also used degrading Mexican-American racial slurs.

According to the couple, after the two complained about the behaviors, CRST Expedited retaliated and the two were given bad driving assignments and bad dispatch assistance, which caused them to drive off-route and cost them money out of their own pockets.

CRST Expedited has yet to respond to the claims made in that lawsuit.

Source: Business 360, “Female driver wins $1.5 million harassment judgment against CRST Expedited,” David DeWitte, 9 May 2011

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