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Customer Tells Lowe’s “Don’t Send a Black Delivery Driver”

Jon Allison

 Monday Blog

Last week a Lowe’s Home Improvement delivery driver in Danville, Virginia was told he could not make a delivery because he is African-American and the customer did not want a black person on her property.

Marcus Bradley has been employed with Lowe’s for 11 years.  He and Alex Brooks, a long-time coworker who makes deliveries with Bradley, were in their truck on the way to make the delivery when their manager called and told them to come back.  Their manager told them that the customer had given specific instructions that she didn’t want a black employee making the delivery.  Both were shocked, but they turned the truck around and went back.  Brooks, who is white, refused to get back in the truck and make the delivery without Bradley.  Another white driver made the delivery.

Upon learning of the situation, Lowe’s terminated the manager involved and apologized to its employees.  Lowe’s also issued a statement saying “Under no circumstances should a discriminatory delivery request be honored as it is inconsistent with our diversity and inclusion core values and the request should have been refused.”  The homeowner who made the request said “I got a right to have whatever I want and that’s it,” and “I don’t feel bad about nothing.”

Even where a company has policies against discrimination, managers still make discriminatory employment decisions.  Follow this link to read more.

14-Year Employee Terminated After Background Check Reveals 1990 Misdemeanor

BMW is going to trial soon on the issue of whether it violated employment discrimination laws when it used criminal background checks at its Greer, South Carolina plant that had a disparate impact on African-Americans.  The background checks were completed in 2008.  After reviewing the background checks 88 employees lost their jobs.  70 were African-American and many had been employed for years.  One was terminated after 14 years of employment because her background check revealed a misdemeanor from 1990 with a fine of $137.

Additional information can be found here.

 

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The Cincinnati Workers’ Rights Project

Jon Allison

Monday Blog

In my most recent blog, I described a problem with Ohio law that has a significant negative impact on low-wage workers and prevents many of them from realizing the promises of state laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Low-wage workers attempting to use federal law to confront discrimination face similar barriers. So how about some good news?

There is a new nonprofit in Cincinnati dedicated to advocating for the rights of low-wage workers – The Cincinnati Workers’ Rights Project. The mission of the Cincinnati Workers’ Rights Project is to advocate for low-wage workers, to educate them regarding their rights and to provide pro-bono advice to workers who have been terminated from their jobs.

The Project advocates for low-wage workers in multiple ways, including promoting social and political change that will improve the lives of low-wage workers. Its primary focus is on educating individuals via pro-bono 30-60 minute post-termination consultations with the Legal Director, law students working under the direction of the Legal Director, or volunteer attorneys. The Project also offers preliminary representation and referrals to volunteer attorneys in appropriate cases.

Follow this link to the Cincinnati Workers’ Rights Project’s website. You can reach its Executive Director/Legal Director, Ann Koize Wittenauer, at 513-592-2318 or via email at info@workersrightsproject.org.

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Ohio’s Message To Plaintiff’s Employment Attorneys: Don’t Help Low Wage Workers

Jon Allison

Having just finished up a jury trial where the plaintiff won a wrongful termination claim and was awarded lost wages and compensatory damages, the timing seems right to discuss attorney fees under Ohio law in employment cases.  Under Ohio law, attorneys who take on cases where an employee was wrongfully terminated must first prove the discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation.  If they are successful in doing so, in order to have a chance at being paid for their work without taking some percentage of the employee’s award of lost wages and compensatory damages, they must prove separately and by a higher standard of proof that the employer not only discriminated, harassed and/or retaliated, but that it did so maliciously and should be made to pay a punitive damages award.  Only after the attorney proves that punitive damages are appropriate, is there an opportunity to be paid for the legal work under Ohio law, but there is still no guarantee.

The problem with this scheme is that it operates as a huge disincentive to take on cases for minimum wage or other low wage workers.  An attorney could win trial after trial for minimum wage workers and not be able to pay the bills to keep the law firm going.  Low wage workers are the ones who are most vulnerable to wrongful conduct on the part of their employers.  Most plaintiff’s employment attorneys want to devote time to help these low wage workers.  Ohio says don’t.

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Losing My Religion

Jon Allison

Monday Blog

Earlier this month NPR ran a story on the growing number of Religious “Nones” (persons who do not identify with any religion) and the political implications of the growth of that group.  NPR reported in the story that this group is growing rapidly.  Religious “nones” include atheists, agnostics and people who report they just don’t belong to any religion in particular.  From 2007 to 2014 the adult population of “nones” increased by over 50%.  Of those born from 1928 to 1945, 11% are “nones.”  Of those born from 1946 to 1964 (baby boomers), it is 17%.  23% of those born from 1965 to 1980 (Gen. Xers) are “nones.”  34% of Old Millennials (born 1981 to 1989) and 36% of New Millennials (born 1990 to 1996) are “nones.”  From an employment lawyer’s perspective, it will be interesting to see the impact of this trend on employment claims.  As more and more “nones” take on management and decision making roles in organizations, will they be more or less tolerant of employees’ and applicants’ religious practices?  Will there be an increase or decrease in religious discrimination claims by employees who practice a particular religion.  As their numbers grow will there be an increase in religious discrimination claims by “nones” who say they are being discriminated against for being atheist or agnostic?  What about the impact of the growth of this group on equal employment opportunity in general?  Looks like we may be finding out sooner rather than later.
The NPR story is linked here . . .

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Inside Job

Jon Allison

Monday Blog
Last week a group of four former store detectives filed a class-action lawsuit against CVS alleging that it directed them to racially profile African-American and Hispanic customers and then retaliated against the detectives when they complained that the practice was discriminatory.  The plaintiffs say that two loss-prevention supervisors for the Manhattan and Queens store locations on a regular basis told the detectives to profile African-American and Hispanic customers because they were the ones who were always the thieves.  After complaining to superiors, the plaintiffs say they were subjected to false criticism of their performance.  Three of the plaintiffs were then terminated earlier this year while one was terminated before that.  One of the attorneys for the plaintiffs said that, while there have been profiling cases filed by customers, “this is the first time a group of employees has banded together to provide an inside account and expose the blatant racial profiling policy at one of the largest retailers in the world.”
Find more information here.

The Expectation That Dads Prioritize Work
Josh Levs was the fatherhood reporter for CNN in the summer of 2013 when his wife gave birth prematurely while suffering from a severe pregnancy complication.  Months prior to the premature birth of his daughter he had requested 10 weeks of paid leave.  At the time CNN offered 10 weeks of paid leave under CNN’s leave policies.  He found out that the 10 weeks of leave only applied to men in cases of adoption or a surrogate birth.  He asked if CNN would change the policy.  He was told no 11 days after the premature birth of his daughter.  Instead, when his family needed him most, he got 2 weeks of leave which was at that point used up.  He filed an EEOC complaint which is not yet resolved.  CNN has, however, changed its policy.  Read this article for more details.

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