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Total Articles: 42

No Liability for School in $4-Million Gender Discrimination Suit, Jury Finds

A federal jury concluded that the former Superintendent of the East Greenbush Central School District failed meet her burden of proving she was terminated based on her gender and pregnancy status. Accordingly, the District was not liable for the more than $4 million in damages sought.

Top 10 Non-Monetary Terms In Uber’s $10M Discrimination Settlement

Sure, the monetary portion of the settlement—$10 million to a class of approximately 400 Uber software engineers and over $2.6M in attorneys’ fees—is pretty eye-opening. But perhaps the more significant part of the settlement agreement that was just agreed to by a federal court judge on Wednesday were all of the non-monetary terms.

Scientist Awarded $3M by Pennsylvania Jury in Gender Discrimination Suit

A federal jury recently awarded a female scientist $3M for her gender discrimination claims against PPG Industries, Inc., headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Half of the award was for emotional distress damages.

Applebee’s Grill and Bar: Serving Up Sexual Harassment With Those Fries and Cocktails

$75,000 plus years of monitoring by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), the federal watch dog for employment discrimination, was the price tag for an Applebee’s Grill and Bar that allowed sexual harassment to go unchecked in South Carolina.

Walmart Agrees to Pay $65 Million for Making Cashiers Stand

Walmart has agreed to pay $65 million to resolve a class action lawsuit that accused the nation's largest retailer of refusing to provide cashiers with seating while they worked. Nearly 100,000 current and former Walmart cashiers in California had joined the suit, claiming Walmart's actions violated state law.

Florida Jury Awards Former University Registrar $310,500 In Retaliation Suit

A jury recently returned a $310,500 verdict in favor of a former University of South Florida employee on her retaliation claim against the University. DeBose v. USF Board of Trustees, et al, No. 8:15-cv-02787 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 26, 2018). The former employee, Angela DeBose, claimed she was retaliated against because she had filed internal race bias complaints with the University and a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charge of discrimination.

Employment Trial Report - 310k verdict

A jury recently returned a $310,500 verdict in favor of a former University of South Florida employee on her retaliation claim against the University. DeBose v. USF Board of Trustees, et al, No. 8:15-cv-02787 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 26, 2018).

Pennsylvania Jury Finds Female Professor’s Retaliation Claims Pass the Test

A federal jury has awarded a female professor lost earnings and punitive damages on two counts of employment retaliation, despite rejecting her claim of sex discrimination in a university’s distribution of coveted teaching assignments. Baugh v. Robert Morris University, No. 2016-cv-430 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 11, 2018).

No Horseplay Here: Jury Awards Employee $2.4 Million in Damages for Sex Discrimination

A company’s potential monetary liability for workplace discrimination can be crippling. A jury in the U.S. District for the Northern District of Illinois had awarded a male grocery store butcher $2.4 million in compensatory and punitive damages on his claim of sexual harassment against a small grocery store located in the south side of Chicago. The lower court ultimately reduced the award to $477,500, because of Title VII’s statutory damage caps and the excessiveness of the award. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has affirmed the award. Smith v. Rosebud Farm, Inc., No. 17-2626, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 21481 (7th Cir. Aug. 2, 2018).

Jury Award of Emotional Distress Damages Must Be Reduced by Millions, Judge Rules

A federal judge in New York has ruled that a plaintiff could recover only a small portion of the $2.5 million a jury awarded him, granting the defendant’s request for the reduction. Saber v. New York State Department of Financial Services, No. 1:15-cv-05944 (S.D. N.Y. July 20, 2018). Plaintiff Nasser Saber, who is Muslim, had filed an eight-count complaint alleging that the employer, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS), discriminated against him based on his religion and national origin, and otherwise retaliated against him in violation of Title VII, Sections 1981 and 1983, and New York Executive Law Section 296.

Estée Lauder Pays $1.1 Million to Settle EEOC Parental Leave Discrimination Claim

Under a court-approved consent decree, Estée Lauder will pay $1.1 million to settle claims that its parental leave policy discriminated against new fathers. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed the charges on behalf of a class of 210 male employees.

Restaurant Chain’s Spoiled Internal Investigation Leads to $8M Jury Award for Fired Employee

A Fresno, California jury has awarded nearly $8 million to former Chipotle employee Jeanette Ortiz on her claim of wrongful discharge.

Jury Enters Sexual Harassment Verdict in Favor of Plaintiff; Awards No Damages

A jury in the Northern District of Georgia recently entered a verdict in favor of the plaintiff in a sexual harassment case, yet awarded her no damages.

Restaurant Chain Pays Nearly $3 Million to Settle Age Discrimination Claims

Discriminating against employees or job applicants because of their age is not just wrong - it also can prove costly, as one employer recently found out.

Reward for Highest Score: No Promotion, But $1.2 Million Jury Verdict

A long-time New Jersey police department employee applies for a promotion to captain. On the promotional exam, he scores higher than any other applicant. He isn’t promoted. His consolation prize, however, is a jury verdict of more than $1.2 million in state court last month.

Pay Bias Litigation Results in Costly Settlement

Pay bias litigation made the news recently when a North Carolina federal judge approved a $45 million settlement of class action claims brought by former and current female managers who alleged that Family Dollar paid them less than it paid comparable male managers. Ending a case that began over a decade ago, the deal required that Family Dollar would not only make the large settlement payment but also review its manager compensation framework with labor experts. Alleging that Family Dollar’s corporate policies and high-level management decisions were discriminatory, the class plaintiffs brought claims under the Equal Pay Act in addition to making claims for disparate impact and treatment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This issue is not going away; other recent press accounts have noted that female doctors earned significantly less than their male peers do (and that the gap was most pronounced in Charleston, South Carolina!).

$1 Jury Verdict Yields 300k in Attorneys Fees to Plaintiff’s Counsel

In a case alleging sexual harassment by a researcher against a research assistant, the trial court ordered more than 300k in attorneys’ fees after the jury awarded a mere $1 in damages to the plaintiff. Jenkins v. The University of Minnesota et al., No. 13-CV-1548 (D. Minn. Oct. 13, 2017). The court awarded attorneys’ fees because it found that nonmonetary considerations significantly affected the case.

Iowa Waives Appeal of $2.2 million Verdict In Favor of Settlement

On August 24, 2017 we reported that former communications director for the Iowa Senate Republican Caucus, Kristen Anderson, was awarded $2.2 million in damages by a jury that found Anderson had been fired in retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.

Federal Appeals Court Affirms Six-Figure Jury Verdict in Pregnancy Discrimination Act Claim

A recent decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit serves as a cautionary tale for employers quick to deny employees’ requests for accommodations after returning from maternity leave. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) prohibits discrimination “on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.” In light of recent trends as shown by this recent ruling, employers should be prepared to work with their employees to find reasonable accommodations pregnancy-related conditions, including breastfeeding.

11th Circuit Upholds Pregnancy Discrimination Award for Breastfeeding Police Officer

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a $161,000 jury award to an Alabama narcotics officer whose employer refused to accommodate her need to pump breast milk following her maternity leave. The jury had found the employer illegally retaliated against the officer under both the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), and also constructively discharged and discriminated against her.

Judge OK’s 8.75 Million Postmates Settlement

A federal judge in California recently gave his blessing to an $8.75 million settlement in the ongoing litigation by delivery drivers against the food courier service, Postmates. In the class action suit, which was filed in March 2015, delivery drivers claimed that they were misclassified as independent contractors and were paid less than minimum wage. They contended that by labeling them independent contractors instead of employees, Postmates violated California labor statutes, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and the California Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). The plaintiffs asked the court to grant them nationwide class status, which ratcheted up the stakes significantly.

Missed the Webinar about Settling Employment Related Claims?

We recently presented on the topic of settlement and severance agreements as part of Nexsen Pruet’s Employment Law Certificate Series: Building Workplaces That Win.

Sexual, Racial Harassment Settlement Will Cost Ford Motor Co. Up to $10 Million

Ford Motor Company has agreed to pay up to $10.1 million to settle sexual and racial harassment claims, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced.

Jury Awards $4.5 Million to Hospital Employee for Discrimination and Retaliation

A plaintiff has been awarded $4.45 million for an age discrimination, disability discrimination, and retaliation action he filed under state law in a court in Iowa against his former employer. Gregory Hawkins v. Grinnell Regional Medical Center, et al., No. 08791 LALA002281. The award included $220,009 in back pay, $2 million in emotional distress damages, and $2.28 million for future emotional distress damages.

Discrimination claims against Bass Pro result in $10.5 million settlement and serve as reminder to other employers

Last month, a federal court in Texas approved a settlement between the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Bass Pro Outdoor World LLC in a lawsuit filed by the EEOC that alleged widespread hiring discrimination and retaliation.

Outdoor Retailer to Pay 10.5M in EEOC Hiring Discrimination Case

The Missouri-based Bass Pro Outdoor World will pay 10.5M to settle a case brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that accused the company of widespread hiring discrimination and retaliation. The money will compensate eligible African-American and Hispanic job candidates who were passed over for jobs.

Texas Roadhouse Settles EEOC Age Bias Lawsuit for $12 Million

The Texas Roadhouse restaurant chain has agreed to pay $12 million to resolve a class action lawsuit in which it was accused of engaging in a nationwide pattern and practice of age discrimination in hiring. The lawsuit claimed that Texas Roadhouse made it "standard operating procedure" to reject older applicants for customer-facing jobs, including hosts, servers, server assistants and bartenders. A four-week trial in federal court in Massachusetts had resulted in a hung jury earlier this year, but a retrial was scheduled for May 2017.

Million Dollar Mistakes: Recent Wage and Hour Settlements Show What Not to Do

Remember Goofus and Gallant from Highlights for Children magazine? Gallant was always doing the right thing, putting his toys away and playing nice with others, while Goofus did the opposite. The idea was that you can learn a lot from others’ mistakes.

Does the “No-Rehire” Provision in Your Settlement Agreement Restrain the Lawful Practice of a Profession?

When resolving an employment dispute, employers often wish to include a “no-rehire” provision in the settlement agreement. In a typical no-rehire clause, the parties agree that they wish to resolve their dispute and sever any relationship they may have now or in the future. The employee agrees that his employment has ended and promises not to seek reemployment with the company. Further, if the employee obtains reemployment with the company or any related entity, the employee agrees that his or her employment may be terminated immediately without any legal recourse.

EEOC Secures $1 Million Settlement Against United Airlines

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has agreed to a million dollar settlement in a hotly contested disability discrimination lawsuit against United Airlines that garnered national attention. The EEOC claimed that the airline's competitive transfer policy violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employers should take note that maintaining a policy that provides for a competitive transfer process may run afoul of the ADA's protections for employees with disabilities.

Facebook Mistake by Daughter Costs Dad $80,000

Most settlement agreements include a nondisclosure provision buried in all the legalese that requires the plaintiff to keep the terms of the settlement a secret. Based on this language, the defendant can rest assured the settlement will not be broadcast and made public, creating bad publicity and inviting more lawsuits. However, the reality is breaches are rarely caught. Whether a plaintiff tells his wife the settlement figure or buys a round of beer at the local bar telling the patrons about the settlement, we rarely ever find out and, if we do, proof of the breach is hard to find. In a recent and very unusual case, a plaintiff found out that a breach of this provision can cost you.

EEOC Obtains $5 Million Settlement in ADA Pattern and Practice Lawsuit

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported in a press release that Interstate Distributor Company, a trucking firm, agreed to pay $4.85 million to settle a lawsuit alleging pattern and practice violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The lawsuit, filed by the EEOC in a federal court in Colorado, claims Interstate maintained a “no restrictions” leave policy in which employees on leave were automatically terminated after exhausting 12 weeks of leave unless they were able to return to full-duty work without limitation. The lawsuit and sizeable settlement raises concerns for employers regarding potential liability arising from personnel policies.

Same Song, Umpteenth Verse - No Discrimination, Retaliation Worth $2 Million

This time it was Ithaca police officer Chris Miller who lost his claim that Ithaca discriminated against him and other non-minority officers in favor of minority policemen. That complaint did not fly with the jury, but his allegation that he was retaliated against for making it did, two million dollars worth. City to pay $2 million in discrimination case.

Sixth Circuit Decision Offers FICA Tax Refund Opportunities for Severance Pay 09/11/2012

Any employer that implemented reductions in force or layoffs after 2008 should consider filing refund claims for the Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) taxes paid on severance benefits based on a recent Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision. In United States v. Quality Stores, Inc., No. 10-1563 (September 7, 2012), the Sixth Circuit held that severance payments paid to employees pursuant to an involuntary reduction in force were not “wages” for FICA tax purposes.

Employment Litigation: How Much Will YOU Pay?

A handy guide based on analysis of basically every employment lawsuit in the history of the universe.

Why You Spell Out Amounts in Agreement

Since I try to avoid legalese where ever possible and eliminate as much unnecessary verbiage from agreements I prepare, I frequently look at the spelling out of dollar amounts, followed by the numerical sum in parentheses, "ten thousand dollars, ($10,000.00), and wonder if we couldn't just eliminate one of those.

MMA Body Slam

Although the newspaper article calls it a wrongful termination claim, the facts emphasized in the article were that Thomas was not paid the commissions she was promised

Dealing a $2 Million Dollar Verdict in the California Wine Country.

Sexual comments and jokes, including a Levitra pen that apparently grows in length, followed by a complaint with no follow up and then a termination were what a Sonoma County jury apparently believed was the hand Shannen De La Cruz , a minimum wage card dealer, had been dealt. $2 million harrassment verdict against Petaluma card room.

The Note From the Jury That You Didn't Want.

At least if you are on the defense side: Novartis Jury Asks About 'Range' of Damages . The note comes in a sex discrimination case brought by twelve named plaintiffs againt Novartis.

Company Pays Judgment for Sexual Harassment of Teenaged Employees.

The EEOC announced on May 5, 2010 that Ohio-based Everdry Marketing and Management, Inc., has paid over $500,000 in damages in interest to satisfy a judgment against that company stemming from a 2006 jury trial. The original claims were filed by 13 women, mostly teenagers at the time of the incidents, who worked at the company’s Rochester, N.Y., location as telemarketers.

Company pays judgment for sexual harassment of teenaged employees.

The EEOC announced on May 5, 2010 that Ohio-based Everdry Marketing and Management, Inc., has paid over $500,000 in damages in interest to satisfy a judgment against that company stemming from a 2006 jury trial. The original claims were filed by 13 women, mostly teenagers at the time of the incidents, who worked at the company’s Rochester, N.Y., location as telemarketers.

Automotive Supplier Pays Heavy Price In EEOC Settlement.

A recent settlement of a complaint alleging sexual harassment, disability, and retaliation brought against an automobile supplier illustrates the potential liability for employers who even arguably violate the law. An automotive supplier agreed to pay $388,500 to a former female employee, and an additional $40,000 to two other plaintiffs to settle these charges.
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