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Archives for April 2013

Covington Man Wins $1 Million in Race Discrimination Case Against Ex-Employer

Randy Freking

A Covington man has been awarded $1 million by a U.S. District Court jury in Covington in a civil rights case that stretched out over three years.

Clinton Burton, 42, was awarded the judgment against the Massachusetts-based debt-collection company Zwicker & Associates for incidents that occurred at its call center in Hebron. He was fired from his management job in 2010.

Burton, who is African-American, said now he can put the incident behind him and focus on getting his life back.

“I’ve been through a lot these last three years trying to prove my wrongful termination and intimidating culture that existed at Zwicker, and that I was treated unfairly despite my strong track record,” said Burton, a collections manager with the company.

“More important, I pray that they and other companies who treat employees so unfairly learn their lesson, correct their wrongs and do what is right in the workplace so others don’t suffer.”

Evidence in the wrongful-termination lawsuit included a documented tape recording of a racial slur by a Zwicker & Associates human resources department employee and testimony from co-workers. Burton’s attorney, Barbara Bonar, said several jurors told her they were appalled by the comments from employees to Burton.

“We are very happy with the results and appreciate the jury’s recognition of the offensiveness of this type of work environment,” Bonar said.

Randy Freking, Burton’s co-counsel, called the judgment a significant verdict vindicating the rights of African-Americans to be free from a hostile work environment.



National Equal Pay Day

Kelly Mulloy Myers

April 9, 2013 marked this year’s “National Equal Pay Day” which symbolically marks the day in 2013 women must work to in order to earn what her male counterparts earned in 2012.

When the Equal Pay Act was passed by John F. Kennedy fifty years ago, women made 59 cents for every dollar a man earned.  In 2013, women have gained ground in paycheck equality but still only bring home 77 cents for every dollar male workers make.  The pay disparity does vary across industry.  PolitiFact, a fact checking website, reports that female computer programmers, for instance, make 95 cents for every dollar a male colleague makes.  A female personal financial advisor makes only 58 cents for every dollar her male counterpart earns.  Even when pay studies adjust for factors such as industry, education and seniority, a difference in pay between female workers and male workers stubbornly persists.  In 2012, Bloomberg analyzed 2010 census bureau data and determined that out of 265 industries, women fared better in terms of pay in only one, the service worker category.

President Obama, whose first law signed in office was the Lily Ledbetter Equal Pay Act which extended the time frame for filing equal pay lawsuits, issued a Presidential Proclamation stating, in part, “To grow our middle class and spur progress in the years ahead, we need to address longstanding inequity that keeps women from earning a living equal to their efforts. That is why I have made pay equity a top priority — from signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act days after I took office to cracking down on equal pay law violations wherever they occur. And to back our belief in equality with the weight of law, I continue to call on the Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act would expand the Equal Pay Act to close loopholes and allow employees to lift the wage shroud of secrecy and share salary information with their coworkers. It would also require employers to show that pay disparities between their male and female employees are related to job performance, not gender.  The legislation has been introduced numerous times in Congress, but has failed to pass.  Hopefully, our daughters won’t mark the 75th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act still facing wage inequity in the workplace.


Pete Rose Reinstated by Major League Baseball

Randy Freking

In an Easter gift to baseball fans, Major League Baseball Commissioner confessed he has been wrong for 20 years and has rescinded the lifetime ban on baseball’s Hit King, Peter Edward Rose, aka “Charlie Hustle”.  Appropriately, Mr. Selig took his action on Opening Day Eve and the Reds are expected to name Rose to replace current manager Dusty Baker, and Rose is planning to return as a part-time player to enhance his statistics.

According to the announcement from Selig, Pete will now be eligible for the Hall of Fame, and Selig promised to throw the weight of his office behind Rose’s election.

In a 60 Minutes interview, Selig commented:  “Mr. Rose – then the preeminent player/manager in baseball – signed an agreement in 1989 in good faith that was intended to assist MLB, and he was assured by the then Commissioner that one year would be the length of his banishment from baseball. Our goal was to avoid the Reds from becoming a dynasty under Mr. Rose’s leadership throughout the 1990s, and we certainly accomplished that purpose. After over 20 years, it is now time to recognize that Cincinnati deserves a baseball dynasty because it is the greatest baseball town in the world.”

Employment lawyers in Cincinnati rejoiced, noting that all discipline should fit the alleged crime. One advocate said “if a suspension doesn’t fit the crime, you should serve no time.” This seems appropos to Mr. Rose’s situation.

Your friends at Freking and Betz wish you a happy April Fool’s Day.