EEOC Sues Chipotle Over Rampant Female on Male Sexual Harassment (Including Sex Scorecard)

The EEOC is suing a Chipotle Mexican Grill in San Jose, California on behalf of a male shift manager. The 22-year-old claims that he experienced sexual harassment and retaliation during his employment. Here is what we know about the allegations: 

  1. A female general manager verbally and physically harassed him, including slapping and groping his genitals. 
  2. The female GM kept a daily “sex scoreboard” in the office that revealed details of her staff’s sex lives.  
  3. She told the complainant that she wanted to watch him and his girlfriend have sex. She also told him that she wanted to have a threesome with them. 
  4. The GM frequently discussed inappropriate topics such as her sex life and the sex lives of her staff members.
  5. The complainant reported this behavior to upper management but was later locked in the walk-in freezer and forced to quit. 

Though Chipotle refuses to comment on the specifics of this lawsuit, a spokesperson has come forward saying that the company doesn’t tolerate “discrimination or harassment in any form” and that they will take “appropriate action” whenever reports of harassment come forth in the restaurant. 

How common do you think “female on male” sexual harassment takes place in the workplace?

*image by Mike Mozart

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Disability Discrimination Claims On The Rise According to EEOC

New data obtained from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) suggests that employees are filing more disability discrimination complaints. Here is what we know about the report:

  1. For example, in Texas: although disabled persons make up 17.5% of the workforce, 30% of the complaints filed with the EEOC in 2016 were those having to do with disability discrimination.
  2. In 2016, a total of 28,073 disability complaints were filed. 
  3. After the EEOC investigated those complaints, 5,680 were found to have been supported by evidence. 
  4. $131 million was collected and distributed to those who were discriminated against.

What caused the increase in disability discrimination complaints?

Though it’s possible that there has been an increase in overall discrimination, it’s more likely that the increase has to do with the fact that those being discriminated against feel more confident to report their claims. Good news, considering many disabled individuals probably already feel like the process of getting interviews and then getting hired is hard enough. Discrimination such as harassment, retaliation, discrimination, and being refused promotions may go underreported if the individual fears losing their job and starting the hiring process over again.

More importantly, many temporarily disabled employees are wrongfully terminated when they request some time off or other reasonable accommodation.  Many employers will fire a disabled employee because they have exhausted their FMLA leave or don’t qualify for FMLA leave.  This is illegal in most situations.   

As a disabled worker, it’s important to remember that you are entitled to certain accommodations. If you feel that you are being discriminated against by your employer, don’t suffer quietly alone. Instead, consider contacting an employment attorney to assist you with building a factual case against your employer.

*image by Marc Fulgar

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Large “Dollar” Chain Loses Disability Discrimination and Failure to Accommodate Case

An employee of Dollar General, a large discount variety retailer, recently won a disability discrimination lawsuit she filed against the company two years ago. The former employee claims that she was fired because she had diabetes and needed to treat it during working hours. 

Details of the case are as follows:

  1. The hypoglycemic employee claimed that she needed to have juice near her register in case she felt a hypoglycemic attack coming on. The supervisor told her this wasn’t possible because company policy did not allow employees to keep food or drink near the register. 
  2. While alone in the store one day, the employee felt an attack coming on and opened an orange juice prior to paying for it. Once she felt better, she purchased the juice. The district manager and loss prevention manager claimed that this action violated the company’s “grazing” policy.
  3. Once her managers found out that she consumed the juice prior to paying for it, they fired her. 

The jury returned a verdict in favor of the cashier awarding her back pay and compensatory damages. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and similar state laws, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations—such as exceptions to policies that may otherwise interfere with the health of disabled employees. Instead of accepting fault for failing to accommodate their employee, Dollar General argued that she needed no accommodation. This verdict sends a clear message to employers that they should take care of their disabled employees and that they should better train their managers about the ADA’s accommodation requirements.

What do you think of Dollar General’s conduct?

image by Mike Mozart

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Lowe’s to Pay $8.6 Million to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Lowe’s, the home improvement store chain, recently settled for $8.6 million its disability discrimination lawsuit with the EEOC. The EEOC is the US agency that enforces federal anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. At issue was Lowe’s rigid leave policy that automatically terminated employees if they reached their leave limit. The settlement suggests that Lowe’s did indeed violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Here are a few of the violations that the EEOC claimed the Fortune 50 company committed: 

  1. Lowe’s failed to provide alternative accommodations for employees who had maxed out their leaves of absence (between 180-240 days.)
  2. Lowe’s terminated employees who were either currently disabled, had a history of being disabled, or were associated with someone disabled. 

In addition to paying the settlement, Lowe’s is also required to work with an ADA consultant over the next four years in order to ensure that the company’s policies are inclusive. The company must also provide adequate ADA training to managers and supervisors of the company, implement a tracking system that allows supervisors to track and manage leaves of absence, and submit regular reports to the EEOC that proves the company is complying with the ADA. 

Anyone who was employed by Lowe’s between January 1, 2004 and May 13, 2010 and then terminated after maxing out their leave of absence, may be eligible to receive a claim. 

Believe it or not there are many large companies who have disability leave policies that are in direct violation of California and Federal disability laws.

If you have been the fired for taking too much disability leave, please contact our office immediately.  

*image by Flickr

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Declares Pregnancy a Disability Requiring Light Duty Accommodations

As of July 14, 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released a guidance that instructs employers to provide light duty accommodations to pregnant employees, even if they don’t suffer from any other underlying medical conditions. The decision is the result of an increase in pregnancy-related discrimination complaints in the last few years.

Before the most recent guidance, employers were instructed to treat pregnant employees the same as non-pregnant employees. Under the new guidance however, employers are encouraged to provide light duty accommodations to pregnant employees.

There is plenty of controversy surrounding the EEOC’s latest guidance. Not only does the guidance violate the Pregnancy Discrimination Act but could also violate the Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act which is currently pending in Congress.

Should an employer have to implement a light duty program for pregnant women, much like they would do for those with work-related injuries or conditions?  Or should it depend on the specific pregnant woman’s situation? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. 

*image by Frank de Kleine, Flickr

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