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Recent Employment Law News for Aug 27, 2014
Employers Are Liable for Harassment of Employees by Customers
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 19:31:29 - Pacific Time
Employers must implement policies and procedures to ensure that employees are not harassed by nonemployees such as clients, customers or vendors. In a recent case, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit against Costco alleging that at one of its locations, management failed to take steps to protect one of its female employees from unwelcome advances of one of its warehouse member-customers. According to the EEOC, the agency's administrative investigation revealed that the employee repeatedly complained to her managers at the Glenview, Ill., Costco location where she worked about being pursued, approached, and confronted in the Costco by the man. In addition, one of her managers apparently told the employee that he agreed the man was "not right" and that Costco would monitor the situation. However, when the situation persisted and the employee complained to the police, Costco management allegedly yelled at her and told her to be friendly to the customer. John Hendrickson, the EEOC regional attorney in Chicago, said, "All employers have a duty to protect employees from sexual harassment...No employer gets a pass because it is a customer targeting its employee, rather than a manager or fellow employee." .
EEOC Challenges Employer’s Wellness Program
Mon, 25 Aug 2014 15:48:09 - Pacific Time
In its first lawsuit to directly challenge a wellness program pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has charged that Orion Energy Systems violated the ADA by requiring an employee to submit to medical exams and inquiries that were not job-related and consistent with business necessity as part of a "wellness program," which was not voluntary, and then by allegedly terminating the employee when she objected to the program. The EEOC contends that Orion instituted a wellness program that required medical examinations and made disability-related inquiries. When an employee declined to participate in the program, Orion shifted responsibility for payment of the entire premium for her employee health benefits from Orion to the employee, and shortly thereafter, terminated the employee. .
Governor Brown Signs Bill on Group Health Insurance Waiting Period
Fri, 22 Aug 2014 16:29:12 - Pacific Time
California Governor Brown has signed SB 1034 into law, which imposes a 90-day limit on eligibility waiting periods for group health insurance benefits issued by insurers. The federal ACA already had eligibility waiting periods limited to 90-days, effective January 1, 2014. In 2013, California had enacted AB 1083, which imposed a 60-day limit on eligibility waiting periods. SB 1034 conforms California law on waiting periods to federal law.
Employer Must Pay $1M and Reinstate Drivers Allegedly Terminated for Raising Safety Concerns
Tue, 19 Aug 2014 16:33:13 - Pacific Time
Asphalt Specialists Inc. has been found in violation of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for allegedly wrongfully terminating a foreman and two truck drivers. The drivers allegedly raised safety concerns after being directed to violate U.S. Department of Transportation mandated hours of service for commercial truck drivers. Headquartered in Pontiac, the asphalt paving company was ordered to reinstate the three employees to their former positions with all pay, benefits and rights. The company was also ordered to pay a total of $953,916 in damages: $243,916 in back wages to the drivers, $110,000 in compensatory damages and $600,000 in punitive damages. The foreman, who was terminated from employment on June 30, 2012, had allegedly repeatedly raised concerns to the company's co-owner about exceeding hours of service when job assignments repeatedly failed to allow for the 10-hour rest period mandated by the Department of Transportation. At least twice, the foreman and the crew were expected to work more than 27 hours straight. The employee rightfully refused to operate a vehicle in an unsafe manner, which could potentially cause serious injury to the worker, co-workers or the public. .
Employer Will Pay $92,500 for Alleged Retaliation
Tue, 19 Aug 2014 15:56:40 - Pacific Time
Bertolini Corporation, a stackable chair manufacturer, has agreed to pay $92,500 to settle a retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC had charged Bertolini with unlawful retaliation against two employees. According to the EEOC's suit, the company retaliated against two employees, a maintenance mechanic and a human resources assistant, by firing them because they complained about unlawful discrimination at the company. In addition, to the monetary relief, the one-year consent decree settling the lawsuit enjoins the company from retaliating against any employee; requires it to provide in-person training regarding retaliation to its Tennessee employees and to maintain records of any complaints of retaliation. The company must also provide a report to the EEOC regarding any such complaints. .
Federal Judge Rules Prime Trucking’s Same-Sex Training Policy Violates Federal Law
Tue, 19 Aug 2014 15:41:09 - Pacific Time
A federal judge has ruled that New Prime, Inc., one the nation's largest trucking companies, violated federal law by discriminating against female truck driver applicants when it required that they be trained only by female trainers, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The court found that the company, which does business as Prime, allegedly engaged in discrimination by denying employment opportunities to women through its same-sex trainer policy. Prime adopted its policy after it was found in a previous EEOC lawsuit to have violated Title VII based upon the sexual harassment of one of its female driver trainees. Based on a discrimination charge filed by Deanna Roberts Clouse, the EEOC filed suit against Prime again. The EEOC charged that Prime's policy of assigning female trainees only to female trainers discriminated against Clouse and all other female applicants for truck driver trainee positions because of their sex. Because Prime had very few female trainers, this practice resulted in female trainees waiting extended periods of time, sometimes up to 18 months, for a female driver to become available, which resulted in most female drivers being denied employment. Male applicants were promptly assigned to male trainers. .
Ban on Naps Proves Costly for City of Los Angeles
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 06:40:24 - Pacific Time
The Los Angeles City Council has finalized a $26-million dollar settlement to end a lawsuit over a ban on lunchtime naps taken by sanitation-truck drivers. The settlement amount, approved on a 9-2 vote, resolves a class-action lawsuit involving nearly 1,100 sanitation workers who alleged said they were improperly barred from sleeping and engaging in other activities during their meal breaks. Sanitation officials had imposed the no-nap rule to avoid the bad publicity that would come if a resident, business owner or television news crew stumbled across a sleeping city employee. But lawyers for the drivers said the city, by limiting workers' mealtime activities, had impeded their ability to take a meal break. .
Employers Must Consistently Enforce Personnel Policies and Procedures
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 19:50:57 - Pacific Time
A recent case, Riverside County Sheriff's Department v. Jan Stiglitz, serves as a reminder that employers must consistently enforce personnel policies and procedures, in particular those related to terminations. The case involves Kristy Drinkwater, a Correctional Deputy, who was terminated for allegedly falsifying time records in order to obtain compensation to which she was not entitled. She appealed her termination, arguing that the disciplinary action was disproportionate to her misconduct because other County Sheriff's Department (the "Department") employees who had falsified time records received lesser punishment. She then submitted a motion to hearing officer Jan Stiglitz for discovery of disciplinary records of other Department personnel who had been investigated or disciplined for similar misconduct. Stiglitz eventually ordered the Department to produce the requested records and the Department appealed. The case has made its way to the California Supreme Court. .