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Articles Posted in Workplace Discrimination

In Tennessee as well as across the United States it is against the law to discriminate against an employee or potential employee because of age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. Unfortunately however, many companies and businesses find ways around these laws and discriminate against these employees anyway. According to a recent Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) employment law case, Windell Rutherford started work with the city in 1998 and was promoted to lead lineman in 2002. He became disabled after an on-the job injury in June 2006. In December of 2006, Rutherford was told to return to work, but the city refused to return him to his job as lead lineman when he asked for accommodations that would have allowed him to do the job.

Rutherford claims that the electrical superintendant stated twice that he didn’t want him in his department. Once, he said it was because of Rutherford’s injury and disability. A second time he said it was because “all linemen are white.” Rutherford is black.

At First Rutherford was placed in a light duty position in the Public Works Department without a pay cut. He claims that e Public Works director and city administrator tried to force him to sign a form in April 2010 saying he would accept a demotion to Public Works clerk and a pay cut of more than fifty percent. The city had allowed a white lineman to stay on the job with medical restrictions. Rutherford accepted the demotion in lieu of being fired. He applied for a transfer to an open lineman position later that year, but the job was given to two less qualified, non-disabled white men, Rutherford alleged.

In May 2012, raises were proposed for Rutherford and three other employees. His raise was not approved because he had filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to the lawsuit. Rutherford sought to be reinstated to his lead lineman job and $22.50-per-hour salary or damages for future lost wages and benefits. He also sought other monetary damages.The city electrical department and Rutherford settled the case March 5, according to court records. Rutherford will be placed in an inventory clerk position. He will be reimbursed for his portion of mediation expenses, in addition to the $160,000.
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Unfortunately, even though discriminating on the bases of gender, age, race, and sexual orientation and even pregnancy is against the law, many people face this kind of discrimination at their workplace frequently. If you or someone you know feels like you have been discriminated at your workplace because of your race or gender or because of your pregnancy, then it is important that you speak to a Tennessee pregnancy discrimination lawyer right away. They will hear your case and make sure that you get the compensation you need for what you have been through.

According to recent news about labor and employment, pregnancy has no evidence that it keeps women from full and equal participation in the workforce, however, many employers actively or passively attempt to push pregnant women out of the workplace. The number of claims of pregnancy discrimination that go to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is increasing even with federal and state laws against discrimination.

The current pregnancy law, known as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 prohibits employers with fifteen or more workers from discriminating based on pregnancy or childbirth. Pregnant women must be allowed to work as long as they are able, with any absences treated the same as any other disability leave. This law however does not require any accommodation to be made by the employer. This year, 2012, the EEOC plans to give employers new guidance to make clear that the 35-year-old Pregnancy Discrimination Act prevents employers from firing, refusing to hire or otherwise discriminating against a worker because she is pregnant.
There is also a proposed new act known as the Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act that was introduced to the United States in September of 2012. This act borrows the “reasonable accommodations” from the Americans with Disabilities Act. It would require accommodations for employees limited by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. Some of these accommodations could include: providing stools for pregnant employees whose jobs require a lot of standing, allowing pregnant workers to carry water bottles on the job, modifying lifting requirements or reassigning nonessential tasks.
The act would also prohibit employers from firing employees because of pregnancy, or requiring them to take pregnancy leave.
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In Tennessee as well as across the United States it is against the law to discriminate against an employee or potential employee because of age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. Unfortunately however, many companies and businesses find ways around these laws and discriminate against these employees anyway. According to a recent case, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against Interstate Distributor Company, a trucking firm because the Commission claims that the Interstate company 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 federal agency’s position in this lawsuit is that employers must make an individualized determination for each employee that has exhausted a leave of absence as to whether the employee can return to work with or without reasonable accommodation for a disability.

The Interstate Distributor trucking firm has agreed to pay $4.85 million in a settlement for their pattern and practice personnel policies which the EEOC alleged were in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA. The lawsuit is a reminder that those companies with outdated personnel policies could face a large amount of potential liability.
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Although it is not surprise, illegal employment discrimination can be found across the country and across all industries. Probably even less shocking is that it can be found in that superficial world of Hollywood. According to this case, Brandi Cochran claims she was rejected by the game show’s producers after trying to return to the show in 2010 after having taken maternity leave. The Superior Court jury did determine that her pregnancy was in fact the reason she was not rehired. The jury awarded Cochran $776,944 in her discrimination lawsuit against producers FremantleMedia North America and The Price is Right Productions.

The producers claim that they were satisfied with the five models working on the show at the time Cochran sought to return. A second part of the trial will determine if Cochran should receive punitive damages.
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According to this lawsuit, filed by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Dura Automotive Systems Inc for being in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the EEOC stated that the Dura Automotive Systems Inc. Company had all of their Lawrenceburg, Tennessee employees tested for twelve substances, five of which were controlled substances, and the others were legally prescribed medications, in May of 2007. The EEOC also claims that the Dura Company required all employees who tested positive for legally prescribed medications to disclose medical conditions that they had that required them to take the drugs and the company also made it a condition of employment that they stop taking the medication without evidence that the drugs were affecting their job performances. The Dura Company even suspended employees until they agreed to stop taking the medications and terminated employees who were unable to do their jobs without the medications. Dura also informed its whole workforce about the identities of those employees who had positive drug tests.

The Dura Company has agreed to pay$750,000 to settle the lawsuit. In addition to this, the company is prohibited from making medical inquires and from conducting medical exams which are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. They are also prohibited from conducting drug tests that are not job related or necessary for the business.
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Tennessee employees as well as employees all across the country work hard for their money and they deserve to work in a safe and friendly work environment. They also should be able to by law report problems with their workplace without fear of retaliation or being terminated if they do so. Unfortunately, Tennessee whistle blower claims are on the rise. According to a recent lawsuit, Sergeant James Abbate claims he was targeted for retaliation after he reported that his superior Captain Ruben De La Torre had avoided tolls for months during this commute to work. Abbate claimed that he was told by another officer that Captain De La Torre put duct tape on his rear license plate in order to avoid toll road cameras. In the lawsuit, Torre claimed that his grandchildren had placed it on the plate. Also, according to the lawsuit after Abbate voiced his concerns, he was switched from evening to day shifts making it hard for him to take care of his mother. Abbate also received two complaints claiming that he was neglecting his duties. Abbate was cleared of any wrong doing however; De La Torre changed the evidence for the complaints so that they would still stand. De La Torre resigned last year following an investigation.

The jury awarded Abbate $1 million for emotional damages as well as for future lost wages. Abbate had been with the police department for thirty years and stated that he did not expect this verdict to affect his performance and duties at the police department.
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Recently the Department of Labor released a study setting forth the most common employment law complaint filed with the EEOC. As in years past, the most common employment law claim is retaliation. This is no surprise to the Tennessee Employment Law Division of our office.

What is puzzling about this statistic is the “why”. I can’t count how many cases I have had where employees are mistreated after making a complaint to their boss or HR department. The most strange part of this is if the employer would have simply took the time to fix an underlying situation instead of punishing an employee looking for help the matter would likely have ended there instead of a courtroom.

Recently, our Nashville Labor Lawyer, Jim Higgins was interviewed on this topic. You can watch the interview below:

 

 
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In Tennessee as well as all over the United States, employees should be able to expect fair and equal treatment at their workplace. Unfortunately, however, many employees are discriminated against because of their gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and even now for whether or not they are a pregnant employee. If you or someone you work with has been discriminated against for being pregnant or for any other reason, then it is important that you speak to a Tennessee employment discrimination lawyer right away.

According to recent reports, experts informed the EEOC at a public meeting that “at a time when most pregnant women want and need to work, and more American workers struggle to balance work and family, discrimination against pregnant women and workers with care giving responsibilities remains a significant problem.” Following the testimony of ten panel members, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released a statement announcing that the Commission was “committed to ensuring that job applicants and employees are not subjected to unlawful discrimination on account of pregnancy or because of their efforts to balance work and family responsibilities.”

After the public meeting, the EEOC has filed a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against James E. Brown and Associates and has participated in three settlements with employers over claims of pregnancy discrimination. The settlements involve one case where a medical staffing agency has agreed to pay $148,000 to settle a claim of pregnancy discrimination, another case involving a $30,000 payment made by a hair salon and a final case involving a $140,000 payment made by a agricultural products supplier. This focus on pregnancy discrimination and caregiver discrimination by the EEOC is intended for employers to notice that these claims are being taken very seriously.
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Another age discrimination case reflects on the struggles some elderly workers are facing. In this case, home health care employee, Debra Moreno, claims that her manager stated that she was a thorough and efficient worker but the company’s owner allegedly thought that Moreno sounded “old on the phone” and looked like a “bag of bones. The company’s owner, Carolyn Frutoz-De Harne, also allegedly told one of the managers that Moreno was not the type of worker she wanted representing her company.

Following, the company laying off Moreno in 2008, the manager told Moreno of the owner’s opinions. In 2010, Moreno filed an age discrimination lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Carolyn Frutoz-De Harne. The judge in this case ordered the health care company to pay Moreno $193, 236 for the lawsuit. The healthcare company made no comment to the media concerning the settlement and has closed its doors in the meantime.

In Tennessee and all across the United States, all employees deserve to go to work and be treated with respect and equal rights. Unfortunately, too many employees are the victim of discrimination at their workplace. If you or someone you work with has been discriminated against due to your gender, age, race, disability, or for any other reason, then you should speak to a Tennessee employment discrimination lawyer right away. They will hear your case and make sure you get the compensation you are entitled to by law.
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Unfortunately, even though discriminating on the bases of gender, age, race, and sexual orientation is against the law, many people face this kind of discrimination at their workplace frequently. If you or someone you know feels like you have been discriminated at your workplace because of your race or gender, then it is important that you speak to a Tennessee employment discrimination lawyer right away. They will hear your case and make sure that you get the compensation you need for what you have been through.

In a recent lawsuit, Teresa Hernandez who was an employee at a hospital in the food service department claims that two of her supervisors made racist and offensive jokes in her presence. She also claims that when she spoke up about the comments she was ignored. As stated in the lawsuit, when Hernandez complained to human resources, she was suspended for telling a supervisor, “Maybe I’m not white enough.” Then a decision to terminate Hernandez was made and her supervisors were instructed to make a case against her.

The hospital asked that Hernandez’s employment discrimination lawsuit be dismissed because there were not enough incidents of offensive behavior to amount to a hostile work environment. The hospital also stated that it was unclear that the jokes and comments were intended for Hernandez. The appeals court decided that Hernandez found enough specific examples to justify her case against the hospital. They also decided that it didn’t matter whether the jokes or comments were intended for her.
The court decided that Hernandez’s lawsuit against the hospital could continue.
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