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Recent Employment Law News for Sep 17, 2014
EEOC Disability Discrimination Case Against Sony Will Proceed
Tue, 09 Sep 2014 17:18:42 - Pacific Time
U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel of the Northern District of Illinois has issued an order denying a motion by Sony for a pre-trial judgment in its favor in a discrimination case brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). (EEOC v. Staffmark Investment LLC and Sony Electronics, Inc.). The EEOC has charged that Sony violated the ADA when it terminated Dorothy Shanks, a temporary worker with a prosthetic leg who was assigned to inspect Sony televisions. The EEOC also alleges that Shanks was hired by Staffmark, a staffing agency, to work at a logistics facility to inspect Sony televisions on a temporary basis. But on Shanks's second day on the job, according to the EEOC, a Staffmark employee removed Shanks from the worksite. Evidence uncovered during an investigation by the EEOC indicated that it was Sony which made the original request to have Shanks removed and that Staffmark executed Sony's request. Thereafter, the EEOC sued both companies for violating the ADA. Staffmark settled with the EEOC for $100,000, but the case against Sony has been ongoing..
Judge Approves $2.4 Million Settlement with Hawaii Farms
Mon, 08 Sep 2014 16:09:33 - Pacific Time
U.S. District Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi in Hawaii has approved settlements between the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and four Hawaii farms totaling $2.4 million for about 500 Thai farmworker (EEOC v. Global Horizons). The EEOC charged that the workers had been subjected to national origin discrimination and retaliation, the EEOC announced today. The settlement includes monetary relief, options for jobs and benefits, housing, other reimbursements of expenses, and sweeping injunctive relief remedies. The EEOC filed suit against the four farms and farm labor contractor Global Horizons. In March 2014, the court ruled that Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Global Horizons was liable for the pattern or practice of harassing, discriminating against and retaliating against the Thai farmworkers based on their national origin and race. The EEOC named the farms in Hawaii as defendants, asserting that they were joint employers with the labor contractor, and liable due to the acts committed by Global Horizons. Global Horizons and Maui Pineapple Company remain as the only defendants left in the case..
Appellate Court Affirms District Court’s Grant of Class Certification to Allstate Employees
Fri, 05 Sep 2014 15:20:30 - Pacific Time
A California appellate court, in Jimenez v. Allstate Insurance Company, has affirmed a district court’s grant of class certification to about 800 Allstate Insurance Company employees in California who allege that Allstate had a practice or unofficial policy of requiring its claim adjusters to work unpaid off the-the-clock overtime in violation of California law. The panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in applying Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(2)’s commonality requirement. In 2005, Allstate shifted all of its California-based claims adjusters to hourly status from exempt, or salaried, positions. Before that reclassification, claims adjusters often worked more than 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week. Since the reclassification, claims adjusters’ workload has been substantially the same as it was before the reclassification, their compensation is still referred to as an annual salary, and hourly payment rates are not shared with current or prospective employees. In addition, claims adjusters do not keep time records..
Court Upholds Termination of Employee Who Refused Fitness-for-Duty
Fri, 05 Sep 2014 14:58:06 - Pacific Time
A California appellate court has upheld the termination of an employee who refused a fitness-for-duty examination. The case, Kao v. University of San Francisco, involves John S. Kao, who sued the University of San Francisco (USF) for violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and other statutes, in connection with his termination as a professor at USF. The university had directed Kao to have a fitness-for-duty examination after faculty members and school administrators reported that his behavior, which allegedly included yelling, screaming, clenching fists and exhibiting uncontrollable rage in workplace meetings, was frightening them, particularly since he was an expert in martial arts. The university terminated Kao's employment when he refused to participate in the examination. Kao lost at the trial court level, and appealed, arguing that USF should have conducted an interactive process before requiring the fitness-for-duty. The appellate court disagreed, holding that the FEHA “ties the interactive process to disability accommodations, not FFDs…The requirement for an interactive process was not implicated here because Kao never acknowledged having a disability or sought any accommodation for one.”.
Great Plains Coca-Cola Bottling Company to Pay $475K in Back Wages
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 16:58:01 - Pacific Time
Following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Great Plains Coca-Cola Bottling Co. has agreed to pay $475,000 in back wages and interest to settle allegations of sex discrimination affecting 1,293 female job seekers. The OFCCP alleged that the Great Plains Coca-Cola Bottling unfairly rejected these qualified women for merchandiser, driver, driver trainee, production and warehouse positions at the company's bottling and distribution facility in Oklahoma City. Today's settlement stems from an OFCCP review of Great Plain Coca-Cola Bottling's hiring practices over a two-year period beginning in June 2007. Investigators found that female applicants were allegedly much less likely to be hired than similarly-situated male applicants. The OFCCP determined that the company had violated Executive Order 11246, which prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sex when making employment decisions..
HR Practice Note: Private Sector Employers Must Complete EEO-1 Survey by September 30, 2014
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 16:47:28 - Pacific Time
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has completed its mailing of the 2014 EEO-1 survey Notification Letters. The EEO-1 is an annual survey that requires all private employers with 100 or more employees, and federal government contractors or first-tier subcontractors with 50 or more employees and a contract/subcontract of $50,000 or more to file the EEO-1 report. The filing of the EEO-1 report is not voluntary, and is required by federal law. Employers who meet the criteria listed above or employers that filed the EEO-1 report in 2013 and have not received the 2014 EEO-1 Notification Letter by the end of July, 2014 should immediately contact the EEO-1 Joint Reporting Committee at 866.286.6440 (toll-free) or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org..
California Supreme Court Finds No Franchisor Liability in Sexual Harassment Case Involving Domino’s Pizza
Tue, 02 Sep 2014 20:24:16 - Pacific Time
In a significant case addressing franchisor liability for the sexual harassment of a franchisee’s employee, the California Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Domino’s Pizza, holding that there was no liability. The case, Patterson v. Domino’s Pizza, involves a female worker at a Domino’s Pizza franchisee, who alleged that a male supervisor subjected her to sexual harassment. She sued the franchisor, Domino’s Pizza, along with the harasser and franchisee, arguing that because the franchisor was the “employer” of persons working for the franchisee, and because the franchisee was the “agent” of the franchisor, the latter could be held vicariously liable for the alleged sexual harassment. The trial court granted summary judgment for the franchisor on the ground the requisite employment and agency relationships did not exist. The Court of Appeal disagreed, and reversed the judgment of the trial court. The California Supreme Court granted review to address the novel question dividing the lower courts in this case: Does a franchisor stand in an employment or agency relationship with the franchisee and its employees for purposes of holding it vicariously liable for workplace injuries allegedly inflicted by one employee of a franchisee while supervising another employee of the franchisee? According to the California Supreme Court, “The answer lies in the inherent nature of the franchise relationship itself.”
California Legislators Approve Paid Sick Leave
Tue, 02 Sep 2014 18:28:14 - Pacific Time
California legislators have approved the biggest expansion of employer-paid sick leave in the nation and sent the measure to Governor Jerry Brown, who is certain to sign the legislation. AB 1522, sponsored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, covers workers whether they work full- or part-time. Businesses with one or more employees must comply with the new regulations. The bill provides that employees who are not currently covered by a company plan, will earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. They could use sick leave after working 90 days on the job and "bank" three paid sick days a year. The California Assembly approved the bill on a 52-21 vote shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday..