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The Days Of Weinsteins and Roses

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

From Roger Ailes to Bill O’Reilly to Harvey Weinstein to Roy Moore to Al Franken, sexual harassment and other inappropriate and, in some cases, criminal conduct (see Harvey Weinstein/Rose McGowan among others) has been all over the news and more and more victims have felt empowered to come forward and report it. In the employment context, it is important for employees to understand their rights and how to exercise those rights. What is appropriate in the workplace? What constitutes harassment under the law and/or under relevant workplace policies? What are the options for reporting the conduct? What reasonably can be expected from the employer following a report of sexual harassment or some other form of harassment/discrimination? Will the employer retaliate and, if so, what can be done about it? These continue to be hard questions. If you are unsure of how to handle what might be harassment in the workplace and you don’t feel comfortable reporting it internally to Human Resources or a supervisor, you should make an appointment with an employment attorney and get some advice.

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Whiteaburger?

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

According to a lawsuit filed a week ago, Vanessa Burrous, a hiring manager at a Whataburger location in Tallahassee, Florida, was told by her Store Manager to review applications and only call in for interviews those persons who had names that “sounded white.”  The explanation given was that most of the customers were white and the company wanted the faces of its workers to “match” the customer base.  Burrous complained about the instruction and refused to follow it.  She was then retaliated against in the form of unwarranted discipline, increased workload and threats.   She met with the Area Manager and was told the instruction came from upper management.  She ultimately resigned rather than follow the instruction.  It takes a lot of courage for an employee to refuse an improper instruction and report it up the chain.  If the allegations are true, kudos to Burrous for doing so.  We’ll see what happens in court.

Whataburger manager was pressured to hire only white applicants …

Lawsuit: Whataburger ex-manager said she was told to hire white …

Whataburger Sued For Allegedly Racist Hiring Practices

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Young Workforce Subject To Pervasive Sexual Harassment At Chipotle

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

A lawsuit filed last week alleges a female manager at a Chipotle Restaurant in San Jose, California sexually harassed her employees and retaliated against a young male employee who complained about the harassment.  The manager regularly discussed her own sex life and required her subordinates to tell her of theirs.  She posted a “sex scoreboard” on a daily basis recording the daily sex lives of her subordinates.  She slapped, groped and grabbed at least one young male employee.  She also requested sex with him, asked to watch him have sex with his girlfriend and asked to engage in a “threesome.”  This employee complained to upper management, but then he suffered retaliation.  The manager told other employees not to speak to him and locked him in a freezer.  Ultimately the young male employee resigned.  This was his first job.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit on his behalf.  Companies with a lot of younger workers and first time job holders should be particularly vigilant in making sure the workplace is free from sexual harassment and other forms of harassment as these workers are likely to be more vulnerable than those who have established themselves in the workforce and have more familiarity with appropriate workplace behavior as well as workplace policies.

SJ Chipotle Worker Complains of Sexual Harassment – NBC Bay Area

EEOC sues Chipotle, alleging sexual harassment by a female …

Chipotle Mexican Grill Sued by EEOC For Sexual Harassment …

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Wal-Mart Gets Off The Hook Due To Punitive Damages Caps

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Last Spring, a jury awarded a former Wal-Mart manager $5.5 million after finding that he had been retaliated against and fired after complaining about discrimination.  The case was in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.  It was the first of three cases to go to trial filed by three African-American former managers.  The jury found that, after a number of managers complained about race discrimination, Wal-Mart engaged in a phony restructuring and eliminated the positions of the managers who complained.  Shortly after the positions were allegedly eliminated, similar positions reappeared.  The managers who had complained and been fired were prevented from interviewing for these positions and they were filled by non-African-Americans.  The jury determined there had been widespread retaliation and wanted to discourage Wal-Mart from engaging in similar conduct in the future.  Of the $5.5 million awarded by the jury, the vast majority ($5 million) was punitive damages.  Punitive damages are designed to punish an employer and deter future wrongful conduct.  Often the economic losses of a particular plaintiff don’t amount to a lot of money, particularly for a large corporation.  A couple of weeks ago, a federal judge reduced the punitive damages award from $5 million to 300,000 citing caps on damages under the statute.  These caps ought to be revisited.  Most people don’t ever challenge wrongful conduct by an employer.  Fewer ever retain an attorney and file suit.  Fewer still go through all the steps necessary to get to trial.  It can take many years to get there.  Once there, if a jury finds wrongful conduct on the part of a large company and wants to send a message to it to stop, it should not be prevented from doing so.  If a company is not forced to write a big check in the few instances where wrongful conduct is challenged all the way to a verdict by a jury, there is little incentive for it to change its ways.

Wal-Mart Hit With $5.5M Verdict for Retaliation | Connecticut Law …

Wal-Mart Worker Gets $5.5M Verdict In Retaliation Suit – Law360

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Study Finds Connection Between Male Unemployment Rates And Sexual Harassment

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday blog

Complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of sex discrimination are up approximately 10% over the last 20 years. A recent study of EEOC and Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that complaints of sex discrimination go up when unemployment rates for men are higher than for women. The study looked at sex discrimination claims in each state and the District of Columbia from 2009 through 2016 as well as unemployment rates in each state. When unemployment rates for men were higher than those for women in a particular state, complaints of sex discrimination spiked. And the greater the disparity between men’s unemployment and women’s unemployment, the greater the number of complaints. Conversely, when unemployment rates for women were higher than for men in a particular state, complaints of sex discrimination dropped off. The author of the study argues that as women progress toward economic parity that presents a threat to the way men view their roles at work and in society in general. Sex discrimination is a way to attempt to assert control in response.

When Male Unemployment Rates Rise, So Do Sexual Harassment Claims

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