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Losing a job after reporting an act of bigotry

Freking Myers & Reul
Interesting article by James McNair from CityBeat:

Ex-Milacron electrician says he was fired after complaining about racial hate comment inscribed in bathroom

A Kennedy Heights man is claiming in a lawsuit that he was fired by a Batavia company after repeatedly complaining about a racially offensive comment written on a toilet paper dispenser in a factory bathroom.

The suit was filed last month in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati by Justin Evegan, who is black. Evegan alleges that Milacron Plastics Technologies Group, plant manager Tom McDonald and three other employees engaged in race discrimination and retaliation around his firing.

Evegan states that he was in a bathroom stall in August 2016 when he saw “Kill The Niggers” written on the toilet paper dispenser. Elsewhere in the stall, he claims, was an image of former President Obama riding a pig with a quote bubble saying “Allahu Akhbar” (Arabic for “God is great”). Above Obama was a group of balloons tied together by a noose.

Evegan says he reported the graffiti to his supervisor, who told him it had been removed. It wasn’t, Evegan says, so he took a picture of the phrase and showed it to his supervisor and, this time, McDonald. He says he was told it would be investigated.

When the phrase still hadn’t been removed, Evegan posted the picture on his Facebook page on Aug. 23 along with his comment, “This is what I have too deal with at my job. I told my forman (sic) two weeks ago about this and look. I bet if I put smthn up about another race it would be off the next day. #racismisSTILLreal.”

Evegan says he was fired Nov. 1 and that the phrase still hadn’t been removed the day prior to his dismissal.

“They claim they fired him for a different Facebook Live post about how hostile the work environment was,” says Evegan’s lawyer, Brian Butler of Cincinnati. “It depicted machines in the background, and the company says it violated their proprietary information policy.”

Evegan states he was originally hired by Milacron as an electrician in February 2016. Butler says Evegan has not found steady work since his firing. The lawsuit asks for unspecified financial damages and job reinstatement.

Milacron spokesman Michael Ellis says the company does not comment on pending lawsuits. But he says Milacron does not condone “the kind of behavior described in the lawsuit.”

“Milacron is committed to a fair workplace that is free from sexual, racial or other unlawful harassment, and from threats or acts of violence or physical intimidation,” Ellis says.



Randy Freking

 A unanimous jury in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court has awarded $655,000 to a former Senior Vice President of Airtron.

Stephen Becker, the Senior Vice President of Airtron, was fired in May, 2016 and denied severance pay under his employment contract. The company claimed that Mr. Becker was terminated for cause after he poked an employee in the chest during a counseling session. Mr. Becker had discovered that the employee had committed multiple safety violations.

Mr. Becker claimed that he was fired without cause and that he was entitled to two years of pay and benefits pursuant to his employment contract. 

After three and one-half days of trial, the jury deliberated for five hours before returning a verdict. The jury concluded that Airtron violated Mr. Becker’s employment contract in bad faith.

As a result of the jury verdict, Airtron’s parent company, Direct Energy, is required to pay Mr. Becker’s attorneys fees as well.

Mr. Becker was represented by Jeffrey Silverstein and Randy Freking of Freking Myers & Reul.

For further information, please call Jeff Silverstein at 937-228-3731.



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


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 …


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