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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.