LinkedIn Paying $1.8 million in Gender Pay Discrimination Case

LinkedIn to pay $1.8 Million in Pay Discrimination Settlement

As part of a settlement in a gender-based pay discrimination case, LinkedIn is set to pay $1.8 million in back wages to approximately 700 female employees.

The U.S. Labor Department investigators had made a pay discrimination complaint against LinkedIn, the career-networking platform, after a routine compliance evaluation found that from March 2015 to March 2017, LinkedIn failed to comply with equal pay law. The employer had been underpaying about 700 female workers in its San Francisco and Sunnyvale, California offices. The affected women were being paid less than men in comparable job roles in its Engineering, Product, and Marketing Departments.

Though LinkedIn has agreed to settle, the company denies the government’s claims of pay discrimination and insists that their models didn’t identify pay disparities, stating that LinkedIn has paid employees fairly and equitably. LinkedIn officials quote a pay study conducted in 2021 that found female employees earning $.99 for every $1 earned by a male employee, and that in the U.S., employees of color earned the same as White employees.

However, the Labor Department’s analysis found significant pay disparities. Federal laws ban any discriminatory pay practices especially in companies like LinkedIn that contracts with the government. As part of the settlement, LinkedIn is expected to pay $1.8 million in back pay and interest to resolve the violations.

The breakdown will be as follows:
• Sunnyvale Engineering: $719,592 in back pay plus $13,120 in interest
• Sunnyvale Product: $370,974.00 in back pay plus $13,120.00 in interest.
• San Francisco Engineering: $232,448.00 in back pay plus $13,120.00 in interest.
• San Francisco Marketing: $424,506.00 in back pay and $13,120.00 in interest.

LinkedIn also agreed to host a staff-training program to ensure compliance with non-discrimination policy and will evaluate that staff salaries are gender neutral for the next 3 years and make salary adjustments accordingly. LinkedIn will also revise its compensation policies and allow reporting to guarantee compliance with federal contract obligations. The Labor Department hopes these changes ensure LinkedIn understands its obligations as a federal contractor.

In addition to these federal laws, California has strict gender pay equity laws that requires women be paid the same as men for equal work.

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Former Black Employees Sue Google For Racial Discrimination

Google Racial Discrimination

A lawsuit filed against Google claims it has a pattern and practice of racial discrimination toward minority employees. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of April Curley and other former and current black employees at Google. 

Plaintiff to the suit, April Curley, was a Google diversity recruiter for six years. She is claiming wrongful termination because Google fired her after she told managers she was creating a report on discriminatory practices. Curley and other women were retaliated against after trying to report the racist culture they experienced in Google.

When first hired by Google, Curley was placed in an entry-level position, drastically below her qualifications of a master’s degree and five years of experience. She was also consistently passed up for promotions. Curley was restrained to this entry-level classification for six years! Google had blocked her promotion with the excuse of there being no budget for it and instead decided to wrongfully terminate Curley. 

Part of the allegations included that Google steered new Black employees toward lower-level roles that kept them at less pay and kept them from opportunities for advancement. Plaintiff claims that when black employees opposed these discriminatory practices, they were faced with a hostile work environment and retaliation.

According to Google’s 2021 annual diversity report, the company recognizes a need to change structural inequities, yet they have not done so. The suing, former employees, including April Curley, were exceptional employees at Google but were discriminatorily treated and pushed out. While Google aimed at increasing diversity, they were actually undervaluing and underpaying their black employees—leading to their higher turnover. The proposed class action seeks that employees get their positions back and be awarded the full compensation and benefits owed, and future losses.

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President Biden Signs Executive Order to Narrow the Gender Pay Gap for Federal Workers

President Biden Signs Executive Order to Narrow Gender Pay Gap

On Equal Pay Day, March 15, 2022, President Joe Biden signed an executive order aiming at tackling the gender pay gap for federal workers. The executive order encourages the government to consider banning federal contractors from seeking information about job applicants’ prior salary history. 

President Biden encouraged private companies to follow suit and make efforts to narrow the gender pay gap because gender equality is not just a women’s issue but also affects the entire nation’s economy and competitiveness.

In related efforts, the labor department issued a directive to strengthen obligations for audits of payrolls to counteract pay disparities based on gender, race, or ethnicity. The Office of Personnel Managed was also directed to consider a regulation to address the use of prior salary history in setting compensation for federal workers.

This Equal Pay Day drew attention to the pandemic’s affect on women’s labor force participation. There was about 1.1 million fewer women in the labor force this year than in 2020, with low-paid workers hit the hardest, leaving middle- and higher-paid workers insulated from the pandemic. Vice President Kamala Harris aired that the pandemic has only deepened inequities especially as caregiving has become more expensive and inaccessible. And emphasized how African-American women, Latina women, and Native-American women lose hundreds of thousands of dollars over a 40-year career span.

As a result, President Biden has focused on combatting occupational segregation to give better access to women into, primarily male-dominated, well-paying jobs. In October 2021, The Biden administration issued a national gender strategy to advance women and girls’ full participation in society. 

In the end, Equal Pay Day highlighted the continuing wage-gap with the White House reporting that in 2020, the average woman earned 83 cents on the dollar compared with a male colleague doing the same work and that this gap is even bigger for African-American and Native American women and Latinas. Further, social security benefits for women are 80% of those for men.

California has already banned asking applicants about their prior salary history.  California has also passed strong gender pay equity laws.  We handle many such cases.  

What do you think is the right approach to gender pay equity?

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NFL and Teams Sued for Racial Discrimination by Brian Flores

NFL Racial Discrimination

The National Football League and three teams (The Giants, Broncos, and Dolphins) are being sued by Brian Flores, former Miami Dolphins coach, for racial discrimination in the hiring and retention of Black coaches. 

Brian Flores was recently fired after 3 successful coaching years for the Dolphins. Flores accuses teams such as the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos, of giving him token interviews to comply with the “Rooney Rule” that required interviewing black candidates for head positions. 

Flores released a text message exchange between him and current Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichik.  The messages suggest that Belichick knew the Giants had decided on another candidate (another white candidate also named Brian)—Brian Daboll—prior to interviewing Flores. 

The Giants deny the allegations and pointed out that the text was speculative and not from anyone associated with their organization.  

With this lawsuit, Flores seeks to establish a class-action on behalf of over 40 wronged Black coaches, managers, and job candidates. 

This lawsuit has reignited criticism regarding the NFL’s diversity issues particularly in the NFL’s hiring and retention efforts, with repeated efforts to tackle such issues falling short. The NFL has been criticized for the lack of Black coaches and executives, for example how they presently have only one Black head coach, although a number of jobs remain open, and puts into question the NFL’s efforts to ensure equitable employment practices and equitable opportunities.

What type of change do you think must be made to ensure equitable coaching and management opportunities in the NFL? What type of change can be made by taking this issue through the courts as Brian Flores has?

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Fox News Now Sued By 3 Women for Race Discrimination And More

Once again, the Fox News network has made headlines for illegally treating its employees. Last year we reported on a plethora of sexual harassment claims tied to upper executives at the network. This year, “racial discrimination” can be added to this list of offenses. Two black women, Tichanoa Brown, and Tables Wright, are accusing the Fox News payroll department’s comptroller, Judith Slater, of “top-down racial harassment.”

Here is what we know about the allegations:

  1. Slater repeatedly made inappropriate and racially motivated comments in front of the women. She made statements implying that all black men beat women and that black people wanted to act violently towards white people.
  2. Slater told the two women that they incorrectly pronounced certain words, such as “mother” and “father” and then encouraged them to say these specific words during important meetings.
  3. Slater asked one of the women if her three children all had the same father.
  4. Slater allegedly made condescending comments about Wright’s hair and credit score, the Black Lives Movement, and referred to the entire (mostly black) payroll department as “urban”, and “southern”.
  5. When Wright confronted Slater about her inappropriate behavior, she was transferred out of the payroll department. Though the company claims this was a lateral move, the suit suggests it was a demotion, and therefore, retaliation.

Brown and Wright are not only suing Slater, but also Fox News and 21st Century Fox. They feel that Slater did nothing to correct her inappropriate behavior which then created a hostile work environment for the women, behavior that the plaintiff’s lawyers compare to those “reminiscent of the Jim Crow era”.

Just recently, a third plaintiff has come forward alleging similar racial and discriminatory claims against the network and lead executives. Monica Douglas, black, was the manager for the collections department. She has amended the complaint that Wright and Brown made against Slater, listing an array of inappropriate behavior including inappropriately rubbing her hair, kicking her butt while walking in the hall, teasing her for having cancer, and even calling her the ‘one boobed girl’ after her mastectomy. Douglas alleges that her supervisors knew about the behavior for years yet did nothing to stop it.

Though Slater was fired on February 28th, before the complaints were made public, the three women are still seeking legal justice.

Do you think the recent lawsuits against Fox News have empowered others to move forward against them too?

*image by Samantha Sophia

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Ex-Wife of T. Boone Pickens Sued for Race Discrimination and Retaliation

Madeline Pickens, the ex-wife of T. Boone Pickens, is being sued by an employee for racial discrimination. Armand Appling, an African-American chef formerly working for Ms. Pickens’ country club in Southern California and dude ranch in rural Nevada, claims that Pickens recruited him so that he would cook “black people food” for the ranch’s guests. In addition, Pickens observed the following inappropriate behavior:

  1. Pickens told Appling that he should cook fried chicken, BBQ ribs, and corn bread for guests, instead of “white people food.”
  2. Appling says that it was common for Pickens to make stereotypical references in the workplace.
  3. Appling believes he was fired out of retaliation when he complained about the hostile working environment.
  4. Pickens told Appling to fire two black members of the kitchen staff because they didn’t fit the image of people working at a country club. 
  5. Pickens referred to one black staffer as her “bull” or “ox”.
  6. Pickens said another black staffer had “too much personality”.

Pickens’ defense team negates the notion that her remarks were racially motivated. Instead, they claim that her comments, if true, were merely discourteous, rude, or insensitive. So far, Appling’s legal team has had a hard time proving that Pickens’ comments were indeed racially motivated. 

What do you think of the discrimination claims?  What if it were a Chinese person hired to to cook Chinese food—would that be race discrimination?

*image by Unsplash

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Class Action Filed Against CNN for Race Discrimination Against Black Employees

CNN and its parent companies Turner Broadcasting and Time Warner just got slapped with a race discrimination class action lawsuit. Though only two plaintiffs have been named, Celeslie Henley, a former CNN executive administrative assistant, and Ernest Colbert Jr, a senior manager at TBS, there are between 20-30 anonymous current or former employees who are alleging company-wide racial discrimination.

The lawsuit seeks to represent all black employees who worked for CNN/Turner in the US since April 1997 and held salaried or mid-level managerial positions. The attorney for the Plaintiffs claims that CNN/Turner has been discriminating against black employees for over 20 years. His firm has spent the last three years collecting information before finally filing the suit. Some of the discrimination that the suit alleges includes: 

  1.  Black employees were fired more often and promoted less often than white employees, according to statistical data obtained from Turner. 
  2. The loose policies and practices that Turner has in place allows supervisors to use subjective criteria while performing evaluations and promotions. Black employees may miss out on opportunities for promotions because they are unaware they even exist.
  3. Supervisors direct racial slurs and prejudicial biases at black employees including saying things like “it’s hard to manage black people.”
  4. Though blacks make up a third of CNN’s ethnic background, they are paid less, hold lower positions, and must wait three times as long to receive the same promotion a white employee would. 
  5. Though blacks hold high positions, there are none represented in the company’s most crucial departments.
  6. Celeslie Henley claims she worked longer hours than her white colleagues after returning from maternity leave. She believes the company retaliated by terminating her after she complained to HR. 
  7. Colbert claims that he was paid less than his white colleagues even though he worked for the company nearly 20 years. When he was promoted, he was unfairly compensated. 

What do you think of these allegations considering there have been at least three other similar racial discrimination lawsuits filed against CNN in the past few years?

*image by Unsplash 

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News Anchor Fired for Racially Insensitive Facebook Post

Wendy Bell, a news anchor in Pittsburgh, was fired after making seemingly racial comments on her professional Facebook page following the mass shooting at a backyard barbecue in a predominately black neighborhood. As a result of the heinous crime, six people lost their lives (one of whom was pregnant) and four others were injured. 

So what exactly did Bell say that was severe enough to get her fired? 

“You needn’t be a criminal profiler to draw a mental sketch of the killers who broke so many hearts two weeks ago Wednesday, they are young black men, likely in their teens or in their early 20s. They have multiple siblings from multiple fathers and their mothers work multiple jobs. These boys have been in the system before. They’ve grown up there. They know the police. They’ve been arrested.”

She didn’t stop there. She continued her post by recounting a story of an African American bus boy who was working at a restaurant Bell and her family were visiting. Bell told the boy’s manager what a great worker he was. When the manager relayed the message to the boy, Bell recounts his reaction. 

“It will be some time before I forget the smile that beamed across that young worker’s face – or the look in his eyes as we caught each other’s gaze. I wonder how long it had been since someone told him he was special.”

When Bell made the comment on her Facebook page, police had not yet released the names or descriptions of the suspect nor had there been any arrests. Two days after she made the post, Bell deleted it. Seven days later, she was fired by the TV station. 

Critics claimed that Bell’s words were racist and demeaning. They also claimed that Bell had a “white savior complex”.  

What is a White Savior Complex? 

Usually heard when referring to film analysis, a “white savior” is a white character who rescues people of color from an unfortunate or dangerous situation. Portrayed in the same light as a messiah, a white savior has a “holier than thou” attitude. 

Wendy Bell feels as though her being fired was racial discrimination. She claims that if an African-American journalist had made a similar comment, her employer would not have fired her. Bell is suing her employer for violating the Civil Rights Act. In addition to wanting her job back, Bell wants backpay for lost wages and attorney fees.

Prior to being fired, Bell had been with the station nearly 20 years. In addition, she had won more than 20 Emmy awards for her “broadcast excellence.” Bell claims that she was encouraged by the station to keep engaging with her audience via her Facebook page. 

In the meantime, Bell is looking for other work in the same field but is having a hard time due to a non-compete clause in her contract. The clause doesn’t end until the end of March, 2017. 

Is Bell’s firing reverse race discrimination?

*image by Flickr

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Million Dollar Race Discrimination Judgment Against Roscoe’s Chicken n’ Waffle’s Puts Into Bankruptcy

East Coast Foods, the parent company of Roscoe’s House of Chicken n’ Waffles, has recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Roscoe’s House of Chicken n’ Waffles is a Los Angeles institution that has been serving soul food to the surrounding area since 1975. Though the original was founded in Long Beach by Herb Hudson, there are now six locations spread throughout Los Angeles County and one in Orange County.

One of the debts of the company involves Daniel Beasley of Compton. He was a former employee of the Pico location and sued the company in 2013 for racial discrimination and wrongful termination. According to the suit, Hispanic managers at the Pico location harassed Beasley for being black and showed preferential treatment, including giving better schedules, to the hispanic employees. When Beasley complained to HR and the owner, nothing was done to fix the situation. Beasley was then fired, which Beasley claims was retaliation for exposing the racial discrimination. A jury awarded Beasley $1-million in damages. Even though the owner of Roscoe’s is black and his managers are Hispanic, Beasley’s victory sends a message to business owners everywhere, racial discrimination will not be tolerated regardless of whether the business is minority owned or managed. 

The chain is a local favorite of Los Angeles residents including TV celebrities, pro-athletes, and musicians such as Kobe Bryant, Kendrick Lamar, David Beckham, Cindy Crawford, and Denzel Washington. President Obama is also a fan of the establishment when he is in Southern California. When TMZ asked Snoop Dogg about the bankruptcy proceedings he said, “I guess I’m gonna have to buy it, man.” Of course if he did that, he said he would also change the name to Snoop Dogg’s Chicken N’ Waffles.

Before the chicken and waffles fans hang their heads and cry, it’s important to note that the bankruptcy isn’t imminent doom for the chain. It just means that they will be given some time to restructure and reorganize its debt. Herb Hudson, who remains the president of the company, claims that the company has less than $50k in assets and between $10-50 million in debt. 

What do you think of Roscoe’s predicament?

*image by Flickr

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Abercrombie & Fitch Loses Lawsuit in Supreme Court for Not Hiring Muslim Woman Because of Head Scarf

Abercrombie & Fitch can’t seem to stay away from controversy. The Supreme Court recently ruled 8-1 in favor of Samantha Elauf, a Muslim woman who claimed she was not hired by the clothing store because her head scarf (or hijab) conflicted with the dress code. Elauf was awarded $20,000 for the suit filed on her behalf by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

The decision was determined based on this principle: though companies are allowed to have dress codes, they cannot “act with the forbidden motive of discriminating on the basis of an applicant’s religious practices.” Employers are required to reasonably accommodate the religious needs of an employer or applicant. 

In addition to having to wear clothes that have an East Coast collegiate or preppy style— Abercrombie employees must follow a strict (and controversial) dress code or  ‘look policy’ that  includes recommendations for appropriate fingernail length and hair color. Because of the latest lawsuit, Abercrombie & Fitch will have to replace its “look policy” with a more “individualistic” dress code. 

What do you think–should some employers be able to have dress codes for their employees that would prohibit certain religious clothing?

*image by Flickr

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