$24M Settlement to End JPMorgan Discrimination Suit

$24M Settlement to End JPMorgan Discrimination Suit.jpg

In recent news, JPMorgan Chase and Co. agreed to a settlement to end the discrimination lawsuit from black advisers. Members of the class action lawsuit who alleged discrimination, six current and former employees of the New York-based bank, will receive $19.5 million. The members claimed that because they were black they were sent to less lucrative JPMorgan branches, denied professional opportunities, kept out of a program reserved for richer clientele, and paid less than their white colleagues.

In court documents, the plaintiffs claimed that the racial disparities are a result of the company’s systemic, intentional race discrimination as well as from Chase policies and practices that, due to their disparate impact on African-Americans, are unlawful.

Plaintiffs in the case are: Jerome Senegal (from Texas), Erika Williams (from Illinois), Brent Griffin (from Wisconsin), Irvin Nash (from New York), Amanda Jason (from Kentucky), and Kellie Farrish (from California). As part of the settlement agreement, JPMorgan also agreed to put $4.5 million in a fund set aside to back recruitment, bias training, a full review of branch assignments in light of the case findings, and a coaching program reserved for JPMorgan’s black advisers.

JPMorgan has been hit with alleged discrimination before. Last year the bank was accused of willfully violating the U.S. Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act from 2006-2009 as well as a reckless disregard for the rights of a minimum of 53,000 minority borrowers. Other banks have been scrutinized for similar practices.

Last year, a black employee filed a complaint alleging that Goldman Sachs removed her from profitable accounts and overlooked her for promotions. Earlier this year Wells Fargo faced claims of cultivating gender-bias within the organization’s wealth-management operations.

If you need to discuss discrimination in the workplace or if you have other questions about labor law violations, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Southern California Burgers & Beer Restaurant Chain Faces Sex Discrimination Lawsuit

Southern California Burgers & Beer Restaurant Chain Faces Sex Discrimination Lawsuit.jpg

The popular Southern California Burgers & Beer restaurant chain faces a sex discrimination lawsuit alleging that they are in violation of California employment law by maintaining a mostly female server workforce. The suit was filed in San Diego by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Allegedly, Burgers & Beer violated federal employment law by denying male applicants the same employment consideration they offered females applicants.

The Southern California restaurant chain has routinely rejected male applicants and employees seeking server positions since 2015 – based simply on their sex. According to the EEOC, Burgers & Beer maintains a server workforce that consists of approximately 90% female servers. This violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibiting discrimination based on sex.

According to its website, Burgers & Beer has six restaurant locations: Temecula, Yuma, El Centro, etc. The lawsuit against the restaurant chain was filed only after the EEOC attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement through a conciliation process. The EEOC now seeks injunctive relief prohibiting the chain from unlawful discrimination based on the basis of sex in the future. They also seek compensatory and punitive damages for the victims of the sex-discrimination.

The EEOC, reflecting on the case, stated that the denial of an applicant of even the opportunity to compete for a job based strictly on their gender is a violation of federal law – even if the employer is working off the assumption or the knowledge that their patrons would prefer to be surrounded by servers who are limited to one sex or the other. They further clarified their position by stating that presumed preferences are not an excuse for discrimination of any kind and that the EEOC would continue to pursue employers exhibiting this type of discriminatory hiring practice.

If you are concerned about discrimination in the workplace or if you have been the victim of discrimination during the hiring process, please get in touch with one of the experienced employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Scope of Gender-Discrimination Lawsuit Against Salk Limited by Judge

Scope of Gender-Discrimination Lawsuit Against Salk Limited by Judge.jpg

In recent news, a California judge limited the scope of a gender-discrimination lawsuit filed against by Salk Institute for Biological Studies by cancer researcher, Beverly Emerson, by throwing out a retaliation claim. The judge dismissed the claim on August 30, 2018.

The claim was made by molecular biologist Beverly Emerson. She claimed that the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California purposefully let her contract expire in December 2017 because she filed a gender-discrimination lawsuit. (The gender-discrimination lawsuit was filed by Emerson in July of that same year).

A key piece of evidence for Emerson’s retaliation claim was an email from the institute’s former president, Elizabeth Blackburn. In the email Blackburn suggested the litigation could hurt Emerson’s career, but the court ruled this email as confidential material that should not be presented before jurors. Emerson alleges gender-discrimination based on systemic bias at Salk that resulted in limited pay, limited professional advancement, and limited access to resources and funding for research.

In the course of the August 17th hearing in San Diego, California, the Salk Institute’s legal counsel argued that most of the cited events that occurred during Emerson’s 30 years at the institute happened too long ago to be included in the suit (i.e. a delayed promotion). According to California state law people have only one year to file a lawsuit including charges of gender discrimination after an event or incident occurs, unless they have proof to present that the gender discrimination was a continuing occurrence.

Emerson’s legal counsel responded with instances that illustrated just such a pattern of recurring gender bias. Judge Eddie Sturgeon noted that when viewing the evidence as a whole, the court “cannot conclude as a matter of law that there is no continuing violation.” Emerson’s gender-discrimination suit is scheduled for trial on December 7th.  

If you are experiencing discrimination in the workplace or if you have questions about workplace discrimination, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Whistleblower Lawsuit Filed Against Local California Business

Whistleblower Lawsuit Filed Against Local California Business.jpg

Susanne Bjornson, a former employee of a local home furnishing store, filed a whistleblower lawsuit claiming wrongful termination and emotional distress. Bjornson claims that her previous employer falsified a declaration and forged her signature in order to defeat a valid Workers’ Compensation claim. Bjornson filed an employment lawsuit in the Santa Barbara Superior Court against Celadon House.

Celadon House operates retail furniture stores in both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. Bjornson, who was employed at the Santa Barbara retail location, alleges she was working on the day that one of her co-workers was injured in the course of moving some furniture. The employee who sustained the injury filed a Workers’ Compensation claim.

According to the plaintiff’s legal counsel, Celadon House did not carry Workers’ Compensation insurance (a violation of California law). The two owners of Celadon House, Kelli Thornton and Cherisse Sweeney, allegedly prepared a Declaration including Bjornson’s name without her knowledge or consent. In the Declaration, it stated that the injured employee had not moved furniture on the day they sustained their injury and that the employee did not report the injury. Allegedly, one of the two Celadon House owners then completed the false Declaration with Bjornson’s forged signature.

Bjornson insists she was never questioned by the two owners or anyone else at the company about the injury or the day the injury was sustained and that the statements that are being attributed to her in the official Declaration document are false. Due to the false Declaration, the injured employee’s Workers’ Compensation benefits were denied. Soon after the denial, Bjornson was notified of the Declaration. Bjornson, fearing that she could be implicated in an unlawful act, felt compelled to immediately resign her position with Celadon House.

The plaintiff’s counsel argues that as the working conditions were so intolerable that Bjornson, as a reasonable person, had no other alternative than to resign her employment, it constitutes a “constructive” discharge of employment – meaning that the resignation is equal to termination.

If you have questions about what constitutes wrongful termination or if you have been wrongfully terminated, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Wrongful Termination Alleged by LA UPS Worker in California Lawsuit

Wrongful Termination Alleged by LA UPS Worker in California Lawsuit.jpg

A former Los Angeles United Parcel Service (UPS) center manager, Mason McConn, claims his employment was terminated in order to appease Hispanic employees after he was falsely accused of racism in the workplace. McConn is suing UPS alleging that as a white worker for the company he was wrongfully terminated in 2017 describing himself as a “sacrificial victim” so the company could appease a Latino employee who made unfounded claims and filed discrimination complaints against the massive package delivery service.

The suit was brought in Los Angeles Superior Court alleging wrongful termination, racial discrimination, retaliation, defamation, and false light invasion of privacy. There are three defendants listed in the suit, UPS, the previously mentioned Latino employee of UPS, Pedro Flores, and one of the company’s human resources employees, Gerald Yee. McConn filed the wrongful termination lawsuit seeking unspecified damages and an injunction ordering UPS not to discriminate or retaliate against their employees.

According to court documents, McConn was employed by UPS for 12 years. His job duties included supervising drivers who distributed freight throughout the Los Angeles County. McConn had two decades of experience in the industry, was well-liked by drivers and UPS management, and was regularly commended for his work at the company.

Due to a shortage of drivers, it became necessary for McConn to assign additional work to drivers in the UPS work force. This action angered Flores. When McConn assigned Flores the additional workload, Flores reacted in an insubordinate manner. McConn claims that at times Flores refused to perform his job duties outright. McConn claims that Flores then called McConn a racist out of spite and alleged the McConn was discriminating against Flores because he was Latino. Flores then violated McConn’s seniority and physically assaulted him. After the incident, Flores reported the claims that McConn alleges were false and malicious to UPS human resources as well as the company’s upper management.

According to McConn, UPS knew Flores was lying, but because they did not want to agitate Flores further for fear of escalating claims of discrimination, retaliation, etc. and due to his history of filing grievances against the company, they responded by acting against McConn.

Allegedly, the company’s fear of being sued by Flores resulted in the firing of McConn even though they were well aware that Flores’ accusations were unfounded. McConn was fired in May 2017. The company claimed the firing was based on McConn’s use of a “swear” word on the premises, but this was a regular occurrence in the organization and no one had ever been reprimanded for swearing before – let alone fired. By firing McConn in this situation, the company held McConn to different standards of accountability than non-white employees and sacrificed his position at the company simply to avoid escalating racial tension that was incited by Flores’ false accusations.

If you fear you have been wrongfully terminated or if you are experiencing workplace retaliation, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Years-Long Fight Between Billionaire Siebel and Former Salesman Receives Jury Verdict

Years-Long Fight Between Billionaire Siebel and Former Salesman Receives Jury Verdict.jpg

Tech billionaire Thomas Siebel’s legal battle with a former Massachusetts salesman nears an end with jury’s verdict after four years of litigation. The highly contentious and long legal battle resulted in a jury that found Siebel did not owe Gregg Carman, former salesman, additional pay.

The San Jose jury delivered their verdict against former salesman for C3 loT, Gregg Carman. Carman filed suit claiming that he was shortchanged on commissions. The company was able to convince a majority of the jury that Carman did not have a reasonable expectation of receiving additional commissions totaling several hundred thousand dollars. The claim was defeated under “quantum meruit,” a legal theory presented by Siebel’s legal counsel.

Counterclaims the company made against Carman alleging that he misrepresented the nature of deals with a couple utility companies he closed while on the job and actually owed Siebel’s company around $120,000 were also unanimously rejected by the jury. While the jury did agree that Carman was fired either for complaining about his pay or so the company could avoid paying him additional commissions, they did not agree that he had been wrongfully terminated according to California labor law.

Many companies would have quickly settled this type of claim outside of court or in mediation, but Siebel fought the case vigorously after refusing to pay the compromise amount of $360,000 suggested by Carman. In fact, Siebel has a record of aggressively litigating in his defense. His legal representation stated that it was about the principle for Siebel. He does not settle illegitimate claims for compensation.

Under fiscal year 2014, Carman stood to be provided over $1 million in commissions according to the company’s policy. The deals with the two utility companies were actually closed in FY 2015. Carman was not informed of change to the commission policy for FY 2015 until after the deals closed. The policy change left him with approximately ¼ of what he would have received if the deals closed during the previous fiscal year.

The Defendant convinced the jury that this type of policy change (even their retroactive nature) is standard practice in the industry and that Carman, as an experienced salesman in the industry, should have been understood the situation. Wrongful termination damages are trebled under California law so C3 faced a potential $8 million in damages and attorney fees at trial. The plaintiff and his legal representation did not deny the possibility of an appeal.

If you are struggling to get your employer to fulfill agreed upon payment arrangements or if you have been wrongfully terminated, please get in touch with one of the experienced employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Marin Woman Files Suit Alleging Hostile Work Environment, Discrimination and Wrongful Termination

Marin Woman Files Suit Alleging Hostile Work Environment, Discrimination and Wrongful Termination.jpg

A former church pastor is being sued by an employee/parishioner. The woman, Kimberly Labozzetta, alleges that the preacher, Joe Everly, manipulated her into a sexual relationship, impregnated her, pressured her into having an abortion, shamed her before the church congregation, and then caused her to lose her employment.

Labozzetta is a former parishioner and employee at the Quest church in Novato. She also named Quest church as a defendant in the suit. The church is operated under an incorporated nonprofit organization, Crossings of Novato. Everly resigned from the church earlier this year. According to the president of the church board, Eric Brandt, Everly was pastor for Quest church for approximately 15 years and the church’s congregation was less than 100 members strong.

According to the lawsuit, Labozzetta and her husband joined Quest church in 2011. Everly, their pastor, provided couples counseling on various issues: marriage, sexual relations, family, grief, etc. In 2016, Labozzetta was employed by the church as a youth pastor and the church’s project manager. This left Everly in a unique position: spiritual leader, personal counselor and employer. According to the lawsuit, Everly used necessary work meetings and counseling sessions to create a sexual relationship with Labozzetta. She claims Everly told her that God approved of their relationship and that he was going to leave his wife to be with her.

In February, Labozzetta learned that she was pregnant. Labozzetta’s husband had a vasectomy years before so the baby was Everly’s who immediately began attempting to persuade Labozzetta to get an abortion. He promised her that they would marry and have children later. She did so – despite her moral opposition to doing so. Once the abortion was completed, Everly ended their relationship and announced their extramarital affair to the church’s congregation. Labozzetta was put on administrative leave while the church investigated the situation.

According to the complaint, many members of the flock blamed her for the preacher’s departure, and she was left isolated from the group. She was eventually forced to leave the church – her reputation in the church community was irreparably sullied. The suit seeks unspecified damages and claims sexual assault, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, fraud, gender discrimination, workplace retaliation, wrongful termination, etc.

If you are experiencing a hostile work environment, discrimination in the workplace or wrongful termination, please get in touch with one of the experienced employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.