More Employees Continue to Come Forward in Google Age Discrimination Case

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Almost 300 people have come forward to join the class action lawsuit against Google alleging age discrimination in the workplace. The lawsuit originated in 2015 and was originally filed by Robert Heath. The lawsuit was certified as a class-action a year later in 2016.

Cheryl Fillekes joined the case in 2015. She alleged that due to her age, Mountain View-based Google would not hire her for an engineering position she was fully qualified to handle. She alleged the action violated the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. In documents provided to the court, Fillekes claimed that a recruiter advised her of the necessity to include her dates of graduation on her resume so that the company could see how old she was.

In fall of 2016, Judge Beth Labson Freeman ruled that more software engineers could join the lawsuit. The suit covers more than 40 engineers who sought jobs at Google, but claim they experienced age discrimination during the process.

Google’s spokesperson, Ty Sheppard, made it clear that the company feels the allegations made are without merit and that Google will continue to provide a vigorous defense. He also cited Google’s strong policies barring discrimination of all kinds, including age discrimination. In response to other claims Google has made in legal channels that they maintain policies guarding against age discrimination in the workplace, Judge Freeman replied that having a policy in place does not necessarily prevent employees from filing suit against a company or shield the company from the lawsuit – particularly when the evidence and allegations indicate discrepancies between written policy and action. Most companies are well aware at this point about anti-discrimination and go to great lengths to ensure that their written policies comply.

Google, everyone’s favorite search engine giant, has been accused of age discrimination before. In 2004 a lawsuit was filed and eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. It’s not a secret that the tech industry of Silicon Valley is young. The Huffington Post reported that the median age of workers as of 2017 at Google and Menlo Park-based Facebook was only 29 years old.

If you have been a victim of age discrimination in the workplace or any other type of workplace discrimination, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Spotify Dealing with Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Hong Perez, a former sales executive for Spotify filed a lawsuit claiming gender discrimination, equal pay violations and defamation. The lawsuit was filed in New York Supreme Court and claimed that Spotify’s US Head of Sales, Brian Berner, excluded women from numerous networking trips to the Sundance Film Festival in 2016 and 2017. Perez referred to the trips as “boys’ trips.” She also referenced drug use on the trips and claimed that one of the male employees got into a “fight” during one of the trips.

Perez’ lawsuit lists other cases of gender discrimination at Spotify. One such case included a male Spotify managers trip to an Atlantic City strip club. Another discussed a male employee of Spotify who received a promotion after a sexual harassment complaint was filed against him. Still another alleges that a Spotify Human Resources executive told staff in the midst of a meeting what his favorite curse word was, and it happened to be a derogatory slur against women.

In the lawsuit, Perez states that the same HR Head advised Perez that he had a “soft spot” for one male employee accused of harassment and went easy on him for this reason. The CFO allegedly remarked at a town hall meeting that he did not care about diversity at the company. Perez also claims that higher compensation is provided to male employees. She also accused Berner of defamation. After Berner accepted free tickets to New York’s Madison Square Garden, he was reprimanded. To avoid disciplinary action, Berner blamed Perez. The situation escalated until Berner fired Perez from the company.

Spotify responded to the suit and the allegations it contained by publicly stating that they do not tolerate discrimination of any kind at any level of the company. They referenced their inability to comment on specific details related to the pending litigation, but insisted the claims made in the lawsuit file by Perez were without merit.

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

Settlement Between Former Employee and NFL Network Approved

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A settlement was approved for a lawsuit brought against the NFL Network by a former wardrobe stylist, Jami Canton. Canton claimed a slew of labor law violations, including: sexual harassment, age discrimination, workplace retaliation, wrongful termination and defamation. The settlement was approved by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Stern after Jami Cantor filed a motion to resolve the suit seeking civil penalties. In exchange for the settlement, Cantor agreed to drop all claims.

Donovan McNabb and Eric Davis, former NFL Network analysts, were both fired in January by ESPN after a month-long investigation into claims of inappropriate behavior on the job made by Cantor. Cantor, as an aggrieved employee, will receive 25% of the approved settlement amount while the other 75% will be distributed to the state Labor & Workforce Development Agency (LWDA). The LWDA is a cabinet-level state agency responsible for coordinating workforce programs and oversight of seven different departments that deal with benefit administration and upholding and enforcing employment laws of the state of California.

Cantor filed the California lawsuit in September. In the complaint she claimed she began work in 2006 and was employed at the NFL’s Culver City studio. As part of her job, Cantor claims she was responsible for creating a wardrobe closet to make sure that talent would have clothes to wear for the NFL shows. During the course of her employment, Cantor alleged that she was subjected to numerous instances of sexual harassment at the hands of a number of different NFL employees. Claims of harassment included: inappropriate touching, inappropriate references, inappropriate comments, texted photos of a sexual nature, etc. All this while Cantor repeatedly made it clear that the advances were unwanted and not reciprocated.

Cantor claims that nothing was done in response to her complaints and that rather than assisting her with the situation, the NFL made her life more difficult by increasing her workload and decreasing her hours. In addition to the harassment claims, Cantor levied a number of other labor law violation complaints against her former employer, including: failure to pay overtime, failure to provide required meal and rest breaks, failure to reimburse for business expenses, and wrongful termination.

Cantor was fired in October of 2016. She claims she was falsely accused of stealing clothing from an employee. She also claims that internal video would prove that she had not taken anything. When she was terminated, Cantor was 51 years old. Her replacement was 30 years old.

If you have questions about overtime pay, harassment in the workplace or wrongful termination, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

San Diego-Based Tarr Inc. Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

Tarr Inc. and Zenith LLC have agreed to pay $50,000 to victims in a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. In addition to the monetary settlement, they have agreed to offer other relief in accordance with the terms of the settlement agreement they entered with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

 

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According to the lawsuit’s court documents, the San-Diego based company known as Zenith LLC fired a female employee just days after she advised them that she was pregnant. And this was not the only time they company exhibited outright pregnancy discrimination against an employee. They also allegedly refused to allow a different employee to return to her position with the company after taking maternity leave.

The dietary supplement company out of San Diego, California faced allegations that they were in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act outlawing discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or other medical conditions related to either). The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California after they were unable to reach a pre-litigation settlement agreement through conciliation.

When employers perceive pregnancy and motherhood as being incompatible with work and the workplace it places women at a great disadvantage. For many workers experiencing the thrilling, but nerve-wracking time during pregnancy, being fired from a job while pregnant (especially explicitly for being pregnant) is like a nightmare coming true. While pregnancy discrimination is unarguably illegal, it is a prevalent problem in today’s workplaces. When an employer exhibits this type of discrimination, they are breaking the law and victims deserve compensation.

If you are pregnant or were recently pregnant and you experienced discrimination in the workplace due to your pregnancy, please get in touch with the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

$24M Settlement to End JPMorgan Discrimination Suit

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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

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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

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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.