Cincinnati (513) 721-1975 (map)
Dayton (937) 228-3731 (map)
Denver (303) 357-2355 (map)

Archives for February 2015

Pedophobic Teacher Loses Disability Bias Case

John Concannon

Maria Waltherr-Willard was a successful foreign language teacher in the Mariemont City School District for many years.  In 1997, the district asked her to teach at the elementary school.  She submitted proof that she suffered from pedophobia, a fear of young children.  The district had an independent evaluation done which confirmed pedophobia and she remained in the high school position.
In 2009, the district moved its French classes on on-line instruction.  Upon this change there was no suitable position for Ms. Waltherr-Willard at the high school and she was moved to the middle school without initial objection.  Six months later she sought to return to the high school.  She was told that there were no suitable positions and she retired.
Ms. Waltherr-Willard then sued the district alleging violations of age discrimination in employment act of 1967 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Summary Judgment was granted in favor of the district on February 11, 2015 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th circuit affirmed that decision.
The age discrimination claim failed because the teacher retained at the high school to teach Spanish was only two years younger and that is not substantial.
Ms. Waltherr-Willard’s pedophobia based disability claim was denied because although the ADA requires accommodation of an employee, creating a new position at the high school for her or displacing the existing Spanish Teacher was not required.  See attached case.

Share

Monday Blog

Jon Allison

Another Story Of Corporate Greed
Last week a jury in New Orleans found an Alabama-based ship repair company, Signal, guilty of labor trafficking, fraud, racketeering and discrimination and ordered it to pay 12 million dollars to five Indian men who agreed to come to the United States in 2005 to repair oil rigs and facilities after Hurricane Katrina.  Signal recruited approximately 500 workers from India to save on the cost of hiring US workers (approximately 8 million in savings).  It promised them a better life, including good jobs and permanent US residency for their families.  It did not live up to either promise and instead forced them to work under inhumane conditions.  When some of the men complained, the company attempted to have them deported.  Co-defendants, a New Orleans lawyer and an Indian recruiting company, were ordered to pay $915,000 each for their respective roles.  A number of related lawsuits are pending.  To find out more, see this article.

Sexist Practices In The Air
Qatar Airways, the world’s 10th largest air carrier, still maintains rules for its female flight attendants similar to the type of policies that were outlawed in the United States half a century ago.  According to the Washington Post, female flight attendants must be single to be hired and stay single for 5 years.  They have to ask permission to get married.  They can be terminated for being pregnant and must advise the airline if they become pregnant.  Other airlines around the world continue to engage in similar practices, including holding swimsuit competitions for female flight attendants.  This post goes in to more detail.

Hospitals Refusing To Acknowledge Injuries To Their Own Nurses
If you’ve tuned in to NPR this month you may have heard accounts of injured nurses and their employers’ responses to those injuries.  According to NPR, hospitals around the country are all too often refusing to acknowledge injuries to nurses caused by lifting and moving patients.  State laws require companies to pay workers’ compensation to support employees injured on the job while they’re missing work and their paychecks.  One example of that not happening is the case of Terry Cawthorn and Mission Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina.  Cawthorn was a nurse at Mission for more than 20 years when she hurt her back trying to move a patient.  Mission refused to help Cawthorn.  The hospital’s own medical staff determined she was hurt moving patients.  The hospital, however, took the position that she hurt her back lifting a dinner casserole out of her oven.  Mission hospital then terminated Cawthorn as a result of her injury saying that she was no longer fit to work.  The termination letter was delivered to her in her hospital bed 2 days after her surgery, thereby saving the money for postage.
Hospital To Nurses: Your Injuries Are Not Our Problem

Share

Monday Blog

Jon Allison

Kansas takes a big step backwards on LGBT rights
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback issued an executive order last week eliminating protections available to state employees discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  In doing so, he did away with a 2007 executive order issued by then Governor Kathleen Sibelius preventing discrimination, harassment and retaliation against such employees.  Governor Brownback makes this move years into his administration at a time when nationwide LGBT rights are expanding.  Follow this link for more information.

Don’t quit
A federal appeals court in Boston recently ruled against a former employee in a disability case for quitting during the “interactive process.”  Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employees seeking accommodation of a disability are to engage with the employer in an “interactive process” which involves an informal dialogue between the employee and the employer where the two parties discuss the issues affecting the employee and potential reasonable accommodations that might address those issues.  It requires cooperation from both parties.  The employee in this case suffers from diabetes and was seeking accommodation relative to her work schedule.  The court found that, although the employer rejected the employee’s suggested accommodation, it offered to look at other alternatives.  Rather than continue with the dialogue, the employee quit.  For more details read this article.

Orting’s first African-American police officer claims racism
Earlier this month Orting, Washington’s first African-American police officer filed a complaint alleging race discrimination and retaliation against the police department.  According to the former officer, prior to joining the department he never thought about how race may impact his employment experience.  During his probationary period he was subjected to racial remarks by the Police Chief.  Then, after complaining to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, his car was vandalized with racial profanity and a threat that he would pay for suing the Chief.  Click here for more details on this situation.

Share

Monday Blog

Jon Allison

Food for Thought
Nearly 40% of sexual harassment claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission come from the restaurant industry.  A majority of servers are female and because they rely on tips for most of their pay, they report being less willing to challenge harassment from male customers.  A number of states have raised the minimum wage paid to tipped workers making them less reliant on tips for their pay.  According to Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, in those states sexual harassment by customers, co-workers and managers is less prevalent.  For more details, read this article.

Only 64th worst
Three managers at the former Airbus Alliance LLC in Miami were ranked 64th on eBoss Watch’s list of America’s 100 worst bosses.  According to a whistleblowing Human Resources manager, the three racist managers told her that giving an African-American a job application would be a “waste of paper.”  Applications from African-Americans were thrown in the trash and the company hired no African-Americans over a four-year period.  When the human resources manager complained about the racist practices, she was fired.  Still, 63 bosses ranked higher on eBoss Watch’s list.  Get more information here.

How much evidence do you need to show discrimination?
Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned a lower court’s decision and found direct evidence of race discrimination when a casino waitress in Louisiana wasn’t promoted to a managerial position.  The plaintiff in the case presented evidence from her former manager that the decision maker said he would not permit “a dark skinned black person” to handle money at the casino and said several times that the plaintiff was “too black to do various tasks at the casino.”  The lower court had earlier found this wasn’t enough evidence to show discrimination.

Share

Jon Allison’s Weekly Blog

Jon Allison

Sometimes Sex Discrimination Goes the Other Way

Ruby Tuesday was sued earlier this month for sex discrimination because it hired only women for summer positions at its location in Park City, Utah in 2013.  According to the suit, Ruby Tuesday posted an internal announcement across 10 states for temporary summer positions in Park City and explicitly stated that only women would be considered for the positions.  In fact, no men were hired.  Housing was provided to the applicants selected and there were apparently concerns about providing housing to both men and women in close proximity.  For more information read this article.

 

Fear of the Flu Shot

A Rite Aid pharmacist in upstate New York won a $2.6 million dollar verdict in a disability case after being terminated for refusing flu vaccination training.  The pharmacist suffers from trypanophobia, a fear of needles.  He told Rite Aid that this fear prevented him from attending training and he requested an accommodation.  Instead, he was terminated.  This post goes in to greater detail.

 

You’re 62, You’re Fired

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Stack Bros. Mechanical Contractors, Inc., a major heating and plumbing contractor in northern Wisconsin and northern Minnesota, last week for violating federal laws against age discrimination by terminating two workers when they turned 62 and by retaliating against one of the workers when she complained about the termination plan.  According to the lawsuit, the employees complained that the plan to terminate them was illegal.  After one employee turned 62 and was terminated in February 2014, the other was denied a raise, demoted and had her hours cut, prior to being terminated when she turned 62 in September 2014.   This press release goes into further detail.

 

Devil in the Details

A Christian man was awarded $150,000 in a religious discrimination lawsuit in West Virginia earlier this month after being forced to resign because he wouldn’t submit to a biometric hand-scanner that tracked time and attendance.  He argued that the scanner would give him the mark of the beast and that his religious beliefs should be accommodated by using an alternate method for tracking time and attendance.  He pointed to two other employees who were not made to use the scanner because they had missing fingers.  Read more here.

 

 

 

Share