By now, many are familiar with Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News. This popular Cable News Network has reshaped how news has been delivered over the past twenty years. Carlson was a fixture at Fox, yet during her time there, she was repeatedly harassed by both colleges and her boss – Roger Ailes. Her claim included Ailes making comments about how they should have had a sexual relationship and how he would ask her to turn around and show him her backside. These completely inappropriate remarks, she said, where a characterization of the entire culture at Fox – one where women were expected to have sex with their bosses or to at least tolerate their advances and comments. After the suit was filed, many other women from the network came out in support of Carlson, sharing their own stories of sexual harassment. Instead of going to trial, Fox’s parent company decided to settle the case for $20 million.

Defining Sexual Harassment

Whether you are a famous reporter or an everyday employee, the law protects everyone form sexually harassment. If it is happening to you, you have legal options. You do not have to stand for this behavior or tolerate it in any way. Instead, you should call our law firm to discuss your rights and your legal options. In the meantime, here is information that can help you to determine whether or not you are being legally harassed.

Last March Michele Petry was told she would not be hired for a nursing position she had so eagerly awaited for. Indianapolis-based IDE Management had run a mandatory background check which had revealed Miss Petry was a convicted felon. Her crimes against her included a felony conviction for drug paraphernalia and another for theft.

The Booneville resident didn’t actually have a felony record; in fact her record was sparkling and clean. After being told she would not be hired for the position, she asked the prospective employer to view the results of the background check to which she was denied in doing so. It was this action that led Miss Petry to file a class action lawsuit against IDE Management in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Evansville Division.

Miss Petry claims the employer, who operates under the business name of Cathedral Health Care Centers, refused her a position based on inaccurate results of a background check. They also denied showing her the results and further refused to give her a chance at rectifying the situation. This violated the required provision of the Fair Credit Reporting Act which governs all U.S. based background checks.

Personal trainers everywhere work hard to provide many of us with the best services as possible. They deserve every penny of their paychecks and maybe even some pay for putting in overtime. Unfortunately, recently there has been an alarming number of personal trainer lawsuits because the trainers claim they were not properly paid wages or overtime they are entitled to under the Fair Labor Standards Act. If you or someone you care about has been denied proper wages and overtime pay because of being  misclassified or other unethical business practice, you need to speak to a wage and overtime pay lawyer with The Higgins Firm. We know you work hard for your paycheck and we will do everything we can to make sure that you are compensation for all the hours you have worked.

In this particular case, several personal trainers that worked at Gold’s Texas, a franchisee group of Gold’s Gym International, claim that they were misclassified as exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA.  The issue is whether payments received by the trainers constituted commission under 29 U.S.C. 207(i), a provision in the FLSA. Gold’s Texas denied it violated any provisions of the FLSA in an answer filed to the complaint in February 2014.

The class action lawsuit is seeking a jury trial to award actual and liquidated damages for the unpaid overtime wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act, liquidated damages as provided by the FLSA,reasonable attorney’s fees under the FLSA, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest as provided by law, all costs of court and any other entitled relief.

When we all go to work each day and work hard for our money, we expect that the companies we work for will pay us the proper wages that we earned. We also expect that if we see something wrong with a companies’ practices and report it that we will not be retaliated against for doing the right thing. Unfortunately, many companies do not pay employees what they are owed or engage in practices that are illegal so they can make more money.   If you or someone you know has been terminated for blowing the whistle on a business or if you have not received wages that you worked for, you should speak to an employment and wage lawyer at The Higgins Firm. We will listen to your claims and see to it that you get compensation that is rightfully yours for the hours you have worked.

According to this lawsuit two former personal trainers of the fitness club chain,  Lifetime Fitness, Jared Steger and David Ramsey, claim that their former employer has become one of America’s fastest growing fitness chains by deliberately and intentionally underpaying and deceiving its employees in a predatory manner which leads to excessively high turnover rate and widespread dissatisfaction with working conditions.  The lawsuit was filed against Lifetime Fitness after the two personal trainers were terminated. According to their complaint, the reason that was stated for Steger’s termination was because of his failure to turn in an “inventory count” on time, and Ramsey was allegedly fired for “discussing a co-worker’s employment status” the following day.     However, Steger and Ramsey,  assert management at the Lifetime Fitness club, fired them in retaliation for trying to notify them of the problems stemming from the handling of client payments and memberships. They claim that their terminations represent a violation of Whistle-blower laws that forbid employers from firing workers who refuse to engage in what they believe to be illegal activities. The trainers allege they were pressured to take part in credit fraud and deception.

The suit notes Steger, in April 2013 following repeated attempts to persuade his manager to stop the alleged practice and refund clients’ and former clients’ money, notified Lifetime Fitness management that “multiple clients” had been double-billed and electronic funds transfers had been altered so money could be drafted from clients’ credit cards and bank accounts without authorization. The lawsuit is also seeking compensation for unpaid wages and overtime because  Steger and Ramsey claim they were each owed more than $80,000 in unpaid back wages, including unpaid regular wages and overtime, for work they performed for Lifetime Fitness.  They allege the company has a policy of requiring personal trainers to perform unpaid work before and after supervising workouts with clients, and to meet with clients and management off the clock. They claim trainers often would work 70 to 90 hours a week, but not be paid for the majority of those hours. Trainers were also pressured by management to not clock in at certain times to avoid “taking pay away from managers” under a draw system. Steger and Ramsey accuse Lifetime Fitness of violating labor and wage laws, as well as the state’s Whistle-blower statue, and retaliatory discharge.  Since these actions potentially involved other personal trainers who worked for Lifetime Fitness, the trainers are asking the court to let them notify other potential plaintiffs and allow the suit to proceed as a class action.

New legislation has been introduced in congress to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act, the act which guarantees workers a minimum wage and overtime payment. The amendment seeks to make an exception for minor league baseball players. The MLB as well as the MiLB (the governing association for minor league baseball in America) have had their PR machines hard at work to convince everyone that this legislation is needed.

The MiLB website claims:

“The legislation would amend the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to clarify that Minor League Baseball players are not subject to a law that was intended to protect workers in traditional hourly-rate jobs. A pending lawsuit in a California federal court makes a first-of-its-kind claim that the federal overtime laws should apply to Minor League Baseball players.

It’s hard to believe, but some employers actually will discriminate or retaliate against their employees or applicants merely because they were or may be required to spend time away from work because of their service to our country through the reserves or other military service. Congress, fortunately has enacted laws which makes such discrimination or retaliation illegal. This law is known as The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (“USERRA”).

Specifically the law states:

“A person who is a member of, applies to be a member of, performs, has performed, applies to perform, or has an obligation to perform service in a uniformed service shall not be denied initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion, or any benefit of employment by an employer on the basis of that membership, application for membership, performance of service, application for service, or obligation.”  38 U.S.C.S. § 4311

According to a recent story from the AP, the state of Tennessee has stopped taking new inmates at its newest facility in Hartsville, TN after only 4 months of operation. “We’re holding off on sending more prisoners until CCA has an opportunity to increase its recruiting efforts and staffing,” Tennessee Department of Correction Assistant Commissioner Tony Parker told the AP.

This is certainly not the first time CCA has been in trouble for overworking its employees; in 2014, CCA paid 8 million ($8,000,000.00) to settle a lawsuit for back wages for employees at its facility in California City, CA. The company also paid $260,000 to settle overtime claims in November, 2013 for shift managers at its facilities in Kentucky. The settlement was unsealed – over CCA’s objections – after Prison Legal News (PLN), a project of the Human Rights Defense Center, intervened in the case to make the settlement public.

Also, in August 2009 the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas unsealed a $7 million settlement agreement in a nationwide class-action wage and hour lawsuit against CCA. The suit, brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act, alleged that CCA had required some employees to perform work duties “without compensating them for all such hours worked.” Specifically, the company was accused of not paying correctional officers and other employees for pre- and post-shift work that included roll calls, obtaining weapons and equipment, attending meetings and job assignment briefings, and completing paperwork.

It is hard not to love Uber living in a city like Nashville. So many of us have used this service to get around town. It is a very popular service and company. However, it may be one of many companies trying to pay their workers as independent contractors instead of employees so they do not have to pay them the benefits and wages they are entitled to. If you or someone you work with feel that you have been misclassified and are not receiving the wages, overtime pay or benefits you deserve, then you should speak to a employment and overtime pay lawyer with the Higgins Firm. We will listen to your claim and help you get the compensation you are entitled to for the work that you have done.

According to this lawsuit filed last year by up to 385,000 drivers that were seeking  employee status and the associated benefits to which they would be entitled, the law requires that businesses must reimburse their employees for work-related expenses, which if drivers were classified as employees would include outlays for gas and parking that Uber and Lyft currently do not cover.

In the settlement Uber will pay $84 million to the plaintiffs, with a second payment of $16 million if its valuation increases a certain amount within a year after a public offering. The company’s latest round of venture capital financing disclosed in December valued it at $62.5 billion. Uber will also make changes to its policies, including giving more information on how and why the company bars drivers, and creating drivers associations in California and Massachusetts as appeals venues for workers who disagree with the company’s decisions.

Leading stars of the United States women’s national team have filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against U.S. Soccer, claiming wage discrimination relative to the men’s national team. Carli Lloyd told Matt Lauer on the “Today” show, “I think that we’ve proven our worth over the years. Just coming off of a 2015 Women’s World Cup win, the pay disparity between the men and women is just too large. And we want to continue to fight.”

The four other players that filed the complaint are goalkeeper Hope Solo, striker Alex Morgan, playmaker Megan Rapinoe and central defender and co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn. They feel that he women’s national team, which enjoys a national popularity that often exceeds the men’s in the mainstream, drives far more revenue to the U.S. Soccer Federation than they are compensated for. According to an investigation by the New York Daily News, the financial constructions that channel those incomes are so tousled that there’s no telling what money is brought in by the women and how much of it by the men. The women feel though that they have been stonewalled by the federation in their attempts to see the financial statements for themselves.

The women point to the vast disparity in performance bonuses.  The men’s team received more, a shared $2.5 million just for reaching the World Cup, than the women did for winning the entire thing, $1.8 million. A similar gap exists in all other bonuses as well. The men sometimes collect ten times more for winning a friendly than the women do. However, the women and not the men, , also receive a full-time salary from the federation of up to $72,000, not including up to hundreds of thousands in bonuses they typically collect, a baseline guarantee the men don’t enjoy. They are also compensated by the federation for participating in the National Women’s Soccer League.

After a string of business friendly rulings, the Supreme Court has handed a victory out to the working men and women.  In this case, employees at the meat processing facility, Tyson Foods, filed a lawsuit in 2007 claiming that they were entitled to overtime pay and damages because they were not paid for their time spent putting on and taking off protective equipment and walking to their work stations. Tyson Foods challenged this almost 5.8million class action lawsuit and on March 22, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the employees in a six to two ruling by Justice Anthony Kennedy. Thus ruling upheld a 2014 appeals court decision in favor of the employees.

This was one of three  closely watched class action cases to come before the court during its current term. In January, the court ruled six to three against advertising firm Campbell-Ewald, saying a lawsuit could proceed over claims the company violated a federal consumer law by sending unsolicited text messages on behalf of the U.S. Navy.   In the Tyson case, the court was considering an objection to the use of statistics to determine liability and damages. Critics in the business community have described such use of statistics as “trial by formula” that violates defendants’ due process rights, instead of assessing each claim individually for the more than 3,000 current and former employees who are suing.

This ruling was also decided in part because of a 1946 Supreme Court precedent that said plaintiffs can rely on averages in such situations to determine claims under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Justice Kennedy stated that, “While corporate defendants may urge adoption of broad and categorical rules governing the use of representative and statistical evidence in class actions, this case provides no occasion to do so.”  He also stated that, “The ruling does not undercut the court’s major 2011 ruling in favor of Wal Mart Stores Inc., which made it harder to bring class action cases.

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