Articles Posted in Employment Discrimination

Although the number of women attending law school has outnumbered the number of men attending law school for several years now, it seems those women have a harder time climbing the corporate ladder than their male counterparts once they graduate from law school. According to a recently proposed class action lawsuit against Jones Day, the law firm allegedly maintains a fraternity-type culture that consistently treats men better than women – especially women who are pregnant and/or already have children.

The proposed class action gender discrimination lawsuit was filed by Andrea Mazingo, Nilab Rahyar Tolton, and four other women who have chosen to remain anonymous, on behalf of all female associates who are working for or have worked for Jones Day in Irvine, California. Despite the fact that the firm hires the same number of male and female associates, their situations allegedly vary drastically once they get the job. Female associates are allegedly paid less than their male counterparts and are significantly less likely to make partner. The law firm also allegedly has a practice of regularly firing women who get pregnant and retaliating against women who speak up.

By contrast, the lawsuit alleges male associates were consistently mentored, groomed for partnership, and given better assignments and more access to clients than their female counterparts. Mazingo alleges she was encouraged to wear high heels, another plaintiff claims she was told to smile more, and another was allegedly referred to as “eye candy.” Continue reading ›

Sara Tirschwell, an investor who had been hired by TCW in 2016 to raise and run a new distressed debt fund for the giant asset-management firm, suddenly found herself without a job on December 14, 2017. She had been called into a meeting with the firm’s chief compliance officer and general counsel and informed that she had unethically told an employee in another department about a potential deal. According to TCW, it was Tirschwell’s fifth violation in 18 months and grounds for termination.

Tirschwell said the firm’s chief executive offered her a $500,000 severance package on the condition that she sign an agreement promising not to sue the firm. Tirschwell did not take the deal because she didn’t think her termination had anything to do with compliance – she claims it was retaliation.

Nine days before this meeting, Tirschwell had sent an email to the head of human resources, saying that her boss, Jess Ravich, had pressured her into having sex with him several times since she started working for the firm and that he had groped her in the office. When she put a stop to it, he allegedly sabotaged her job by refusing to support her fund. The general counsel and head of HR interviewed Tirschwell about her complaint and promised to investigate. Instead, she claims she was fired in retaliation for bringing harassment claims to the attention of management. The company claimed that she knew she was about to be fired for poor performance and simply created grounds to claim retaliation especially given the many holes in her story and gaps in her memory and failure to meet performance and money raising goals. Continue reading ›

The #metoo, can be viewed as a disease in business practice.  In its wake, thousands of women have come forward to raise complaints of sexual harassment.  Workplace harassment does not simply remain in the realm of celebrity, its reach is much greater.  People are getting worked up about it and are taking sides.  Statistically speaking, since the movement began, the Legal Defense Fund has received more than 3,500 requests for assistance from workers in more than 60 different industries in all 50 states. Any business anywhere could be targeted for some event that could have happened for a time period prior to the current management in place.

In the past, people have not spoken up because of the fear.  With taking a stance can come the loss of job which leads to a loss of financial security.  The risk was too great.  This had lead to many debates and reconsideration of the way in which business practices transact business and of its operation.

Businesses are looking towards countering that culture.  Getting their name enmeshed in a lawsuit looks like a poor reflection on them from a commercial perspective.  Consumers have that much power.  That is why bystander protections are measures being introduced.  Ensuring policies that already exist in manuals are enforced or stood by are another way of standing firm to the commitment of culture. Continue reading ›

With the increase in sensitivities to gender and race discrimination and the resulting lawsuits, more corporations are seeking ways in which to help cater for the divisions in gender and background of employees.

Sexual harassment suits have gone up in the light of the #metoo and many other ethnic-related and religious identities are not holding back when it comes to taking behavior that they do not approve of to the courts.

Some suits have gone so far to include the following words in their pleadings as proof of an alleged racist or sexist culture:

A consumer bureau “maintains a biased culture replete with harmful stereotypes regarding its racial minority and female employees that infect its policies and decision-making, including performance evaluations, compensation, and promotions.” (U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have charged they were discriminated against by officials of the bureau once headed by Cordray.) 

In that suit, the bureau has responded by stating Cordray “worked hard to build a more inclusive and diverse workplace, launching initiatives to ensure women and minorities receive fair treatment and fundamentally reforming the management practices of the bureau. Civil rights leaders stood by Director Cordray then, and they stand by him now.”

This has forced some companies to change their approach when it comes to steering away from segregated groups within a workforce environment.  People who are not included, do not divest and are more likely to drive up costs for employers overall.  Disgruntled, angry employees take it to the news and courts, leading to bad publicity and unnecessary costs. Continue reading ›

Inquiries into the background history of an employee have the potential to affect the salary set for an employee in the future. Questions such as,  “how much did you make in your previous job?” have the potential to legally tie up employees and not in a good way.  Though the question may lead to the formulation of a salary or not intentionally meant to do a harm, to some the interview question may sound like bait.  This is especially when it comes to women being more “woke” in a post-Trump era.  Typically, women minorities have had a history of earning less, as with other minorities and the pinch is felt during the interview process.

This salary question may come in pre-screening for an interview, during an interview or after the interview process. Several states have measures in place that now preclude employers from being able to ask employees about prior pay.  Does this curtail the gap between race and gender? Employers are generally looking for the standard set by industry but from a legal perspective, these standards are now viewed as being set with an imbalance and huge discrepancy.  That is why the courts have also stepped into place to interpret what is legal and not when it comes to this process.

There are companies that have moved forward and already adapted to the changes in the current legal climate.  For that reason, changes have been made to ensure that this type of question is not asked.  Hiring policies have been made to reflect in with some of the bigger names that do not wish to even take a legal risk or set a standard that would not be fair.  Continue reading ›

Women and minorities have long struggled with the question of whether to speak out against discrimination and harassment or keep quiet in order to keep their jobs and their reputations. Although the #MeToo movement is doing much to encourage women to speak out about the inequalities they face, especially in the workplace, a movement doesn’t put food on the table or pay rent when someone loses their job as a result of having spoken up.

Wall Street has created an especially difficult environment for women. It remains a male-dominated industry with very few women rising to leadership positions. Women who do manage to climb the ranks consistently find that they need to be more qualified than men who achieve similar positions. After having worked so hard to get where they are, few women are willing to risk their positions by criticizing their employers or coworkers.

The result is that many women are still subjected to discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace and the people who should be disciplining their tormentors are other men, who are all-too-often unwilling and unmotivated to deliver any kind of punishment.

On top of that, Wall Street is a small world. Anyone who gets a reputation for “stirring up trouble” will find it hard to get another job. In general, the industry prefers to handle allegations of misconduct quietly. Continue reading ›

It is unsurprising that under federal law, military servicemembers have the right to resume their civilian jobs when their service ends. But servicepeople also enjoy a right that most civilians don’t: The right to be placed not in the same position they held when their employment was interrupted, but the position they would have attained absent their military service.

This right underlies The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), which guarantees that an individual who leaves his job for military service cannot be denied any “benefit of employment” as a result of that service, and a recent ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Dale H. was a pilot for FedEx Express when he was called up for Air Force Reserve duty in February 2003, during the Gulf War.  Dale had piloted Boeing 727 aircraft, but just prior to his deployment had been selected for training as a first officer to fly MD-11 aircraft, at a higher pay grade.

Upon his return from service in late 2006, Dale resumed his FedEx job and successfully completed the MD-11 training, becoming an MD-11 First Officer in February 2007.

Several months before Dale returned to FedEx, the company and the pilots’ union had negotiated a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) whereby FedEx pilots than on “active pay status” would receive signing bonuses applicable to their pay grade, including employees on military leave.

Upon Dale’s return, he received the 727 pilot’s bonus of $7,400. He sued FedEx under USERRA, claiming he should have been paid the $17,700 bonus received by MD-11 pilots, which was denied him only as a result of his military service. Dale argued that but for his deployment, he would have completed his originally scheduled MD-11 training and been eligible for a signing bonus at that pay grade under the terms of the CBA. Continue reading ›

The #MeToo scandals has generated more work for lawyers. Last year, within New York sex scandals were shaking elite preparatory schools with an uptick in investigations.  One unidentified school had spent at least $2 million on a comprehensive report detailing decades of sexual indiscretions between faculty members and students.  This year, we saw reflections of harassment and abuse within the entertainment and political environments. It has had a momentum effect and impacted many with more and more cases being reported everyday.

No one is ever free from abuse of harassment and people are more vocal and aware of the abuse nowadays, as this hashtag has been trending on social media.  Investigation, litigation and handling of sexual allegations are not easy to navigate and are emotionally taxing, whilst damaging to reputation of either victim or alleged perpetrator.  One incident and its exposure often leads to others coming forward and class actions or multiple investigations.  Reputation, character and conduct is important.  Once an image is tarnished, it can be life affecting in so many ways.  A cycle of resistance or denial can also exist in the cycle.  Having insurance coverage in such instances helps relieve the emotional distress in finance over monies paid to victims or an insurance dispute over clauses and coverage can also arise.  As more and more claims come out, it must be realized that one cannot be fully absolved of such allegations and the need to have measures in place in case is important.  Prevention is always better than cure and whether or not employers wish to screen such conduct as part of their background check is also becoming a possible concern.  The costs of such suits can be steep and the damage that is done can never be monetized.  The possibility of employers screening behavior in an interview position for work purposes may also become more commonplace, as costs and money talks.  It is not worth the baggage of having such persons within a working environment and maybe including contract clauses for relieving personal behavior whilst at work must be ensured within employment manuals.  More education is required as to why such behavior will not be tolerated.  Continue reading ›

Fox news has recently come under fire for yet another sexual harassment lawsuit involving a political contributor who alleges she was forced into a sexual relationship with Charles Payne, a Fox Business anchor.

The lawsuit, filed by Scottie Nell Hughes, alleges she repeatedly refused Payne by telling him “stop” and “no,” but he allegedly disregarded her protests and forced her to stay in a sexual relationship with him for an extended period of time. Hughes alleges she received extra appearances on both Fox Business and Fox News while she remained in the relationship with Payne, but that when she cut things off, she was allegedly “blacklisted” by the media giant.

In addition, Hughes alleges that, after she brought her concerns over the sexual assault to Fox in confidence, the media company allegedly leaked her name to the press, along with a “statement” in which Payne apologized for the affair. Hughes and her attorney object to both the manner in which Fox handled the situation and Payne’s use of the term, “affair,” which implies she consented.

Payne was suspended from the network, pending an internal investigation into Hughes’s allegations, but has since returned to work.

Hughes has said that the complaint her attorney recently filed speaks for itself, and that she is pursuing litigation so that no other woman will have to suffer through the hell she says she is now experiencing. Continue reading ›

At least one Trump supporter is, not only well aware of the issues that face minorities in this country, but is actively fighting to support those minorities.

His target? Fox News.

Because Fox News has been such a strong supporter of Trump, you’d think an attorney who donated $40,000 to Trump’s campaign and voted for him in both the primary and general elections would also support Fox News, but that’s not the case for attorney Douglas Wigdor.

Wigdor started filing lawsuits against Fox News late last year after a reporter for Fox 5, Lidija Ujkic, sought him out after having heard about a case he had settled in which he had argued on behalf of a woman who claimed her pregnancy had led to her demotion at Goldman Sachs. Ujkic’s claims against Fox were similar.

Wigdor took Ujkic’s case, and a few months later, took on another, this time alleging racial bias. Eleven new plaintiffs ended up joining that case in the following month, including Kelly Wright, the only black man to work as a news anchor on the conservative news channel.

That apparently opened the floodgates, as Wigdor followed it up by suing the media giant two more times that month, three times the following month, once in July, once in August and again in September. Continue reading ›