The Hooters Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Settlement

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In recent news, two male employees at a Hooters restaurant claim they were sexually harassed by a male boss while on the job and then retaliated against when they complained about their boss’s alleged misconduct. Both filed sexual harassment lawsuits against the Hooters restaurant chain. The first plaintiff, Paul “PJ” Cagnina, obtained an undisclosed settlement in May 2017. The second plaintiff, Scott Peterson, appeared to come to a settlement regarding the case in July 2019. 

On July 16th, Hooters attorneys filed paperwork with the Los Angeles Superior Court stating that the part of the case filed by Scott Peterson was resolved. No terms of any settlement were divulged.

The original suit was filed in March of 2016 seeking unspecified damages and a court order requiring Hooters to stop allowing sexual harassment and retaliation on the job. In court papers, the company stated that they have a strict policy the forbids any form of sexual harassment, discrimination or retaliation and the attorneys for the defendant argued the plaintiffs did not suffer any damages.  

Peterson, one of the plaintiffs in the case, claimed his boss touched him inappropriately, talked about him in a sexually demeaning way while they were in meetings with Hooters general managers, and sent photos to the plaintiff of a female co-worker claiming to have slept with her.

Cagnina, the other plaintiff in the case, claimed that his boss threw him down on the ground in the parking lot after a bikini contest at the Hooters in Costa Mesa and engaged in a simulated act of sex with the plaintiff in front of other people still on site. Cagnina also claimed that his supervisor repeatedly tried to get him to go skinny dipping with women who worked at the restaurant who were Cagnina’s subordinates on the job. Cagnina claims that when he was being honored as a new general manager, the boss publicly referred to unflattering and sexually demeaning nicknames like PGay and “cagina.”

Both plaintiffs claimed they experienced retaliation in the workplace after they complained about the boss’ alleged behavior with Peterson claiming he was ultimately fired as a result of complaining about the misconduct.

If you need to file a discrimination lawsuit or if you have been wrongfully terminated, the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP can help. Get in touch today so we can help you protect your rights.

Muslim Employee Brings Claims of Harassment and Discrimination

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L.A. Department of Water and Power (DWP) is facing a harassment and discrimination lawsuit from an employee. Saiara Shams filed the lawsuit in L.A. Superior Court alleging she was the target of derogatory comments about her religion made by co-workers. She also alleged that her co-workers retaliated after she reported wasteful contracts and that she was blocked from promotions at the company.

Shams claims she was the victim of a years-long campaign of harassment, retaliation and discrimination in the workplace. A spokesman from the company, DWP, refused to comment other than to state that litigation was pending, and they take any allegation of discrimination seriously. Other DWP cited in the lawsuit did go on record publicly regarding the lawsuit: Ana Romero, Henry Williams, Zebbra Corbin, and Glenn Barry.

Shams was born in Bangladesh but moved to California in 1997 and became an American citizen in 2000. She was employed by DWP on their team managing the power grid. She was the only Muslim woman in the department. Romero, cited earlier, was her supervisor. Romero allegedly made fun of her accent, made comparisons between her and Islamic terrorists, advised her to take an English writing class because she wasn’t US-born, and openly voiced her regret over not hiring a Latinx person.  

Romero, according to court documents and an interview with The Times, allegedly made fun of Shams’ accent, compared her to Islamic terrorists, told her she “needed to take an English writing class because she was not born in the U.S,” and lamented that she would have rather hired a Latinx employee. Shams claims that the harassment and discrimination escalated with other employees getting involved. The comments began to come more frequently if there was a terrorist attack.

Shams claims that she reported the behavior repeatedly, but that management at DWP did not stop or punish those who were involved in the harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

If you need to file a discrimination lawsuit, please get in touch with Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP, our employment law attorneys have the resources and experience companies fear in litigation. Let us help you protect your rights as a California employee. 

More than 2 Dozen Women File Sexual Harassment Lawsuits Against McDonald’s

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In recent news, McDonald’s faces 25 new charges of sexual harassment in the workplace. Workers filed the 25 new lawsuits in:

·      Cincinnati, Ohio

·      Chicago, Illinois

·      Durham, North Carolina

·      East Haven, Connecticut

·      Gladwin, Michigan

·      Kansas City, Missouri

·      Los Angeles, California

·      Monterey Park, California

·      Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

·      Sacramento, California

·      St. Louis, Missouri

·      Tucson, Arizona

McDonald’s workers have filed additional civil lawsuits in Chickamauga, Georgia; Williamsburg, Michigan; and Davison, Michigan.

Plaintiffs that filed the 25 new suits allege that they were sexually harassed while working for the large fast-food chain. All the filings involve alleged incidents at either McDonald’s restaurant locations or corporate offices throughout the United States. Women who filed suit are as young as 16 years old. Alleged incidents include groping, indecent exposure, sexual propositions, and lewd comments directed at female McDonald’s employees from supervisors on the job. The filings were announced two days before the fast-food chain’s annual shareholder meeting in Texas.

In the fall of 2018, workers for the world-renowned McDonald’s in 10 different cities in the United States went on a one-day strike protesting sexual harassment. The strike came one year after allegations of sexual harassment at the hands of Hollywood’s Harvey Weinstein came to light and inspired the #MeToo movement. The 25 new filings are part of a continued effort to address harassment and other unlawful workplace conditions. As the second largest employer in the world, McDonald’s has been recognized by many as in need of change.

One of the plaintiffs in the recent sexual harassment filings, Jamelia Fairley, stated that the fast-food chain does not keep workers safe. While on the job, Fairley had to deal with a co-worker’s unwanted touching, sexually explicit comments and repeated sexual propositions. The harassing co-worker even asked Fairley how much it would cost to have sex with her daughter, who was only one year old at the time. Fairley believes that every McDonald’s employee should be treated with respect in the workplace and hopes the new sexual harassment filings lead to change.

With the 25 new filings, there have been over 50 charges and suits filed against McDonald’s by employees or former employees during the past three years. McDonald’s responds to the lawsuits by offering assurances that they have instituted new manager and employer training and continue to progress in this area and citing the company’s new third-party managed hotline employees can access to report complaints of any variety that rolls out within the month.

If you have sexually harassed in the workplace or if you need to file a sexual harassment lawsuit, get in touch with the experienced employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP can help. With numerous locations, including our San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange, and Chicago employment law offices, we have the resources, the knowledge, and the experience to successfully advocate for workers whose rights have been violated in the workplace.

Is Starbucks Misgendering Trans Woman a Violation of Labor Law?

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Starbucks recently claimed that misgendering or calling an employee by the wrong pronoun is not harassment, which is in direct contradiction to their employee guidelines. A former Starbucks employee, Maddie Wade, filed a complaint at the Fresno Superior Court in California suing the company for harassment and discrimination.

Wade, a former barista at a Starbucks in Fresno, alleges that when she began her transition, her manager at the time reduced her work hours and refused to call her by preferred pronouns. She also claims that her former Starbucks manager began posting transphobic material online through social media outlets. Wade claims that she was bullied and targeted by her manager at the Fresno Starbucks daily after she came out as transgender.

Allegedly, the mistreatment by her boss, Dustin Guthrie, escalated to unbearable levels and Wage had to transfer to a different Starbucks location. The harassment continued at the next Starbucks location. Wade claims her manager at the new site encouraged her to take the matter to the District Manager, and she did, but the situation was not resolved. After nine years of employment, Wade eventually left her position at Starbucks at the advice of her therapist due to the mental stress and “intolerable conditions” she was forced to endure.

Wade seeks general damages, special damages, punitive damages, and attorneys fees from her former employer. She states that the loss of health insurance prevented her from receiving the treatment and procedures she needs to complete her transition. Wade also claims that Starbuck’s value marketing group for its LGBTQ employees on the Facebook page, Starbucks Partners – Pride Alliance Network, refuses to allow her to post on its wall.

It is ironic that as we enter Pride Month, Starbucks seems to be making moves counter to its public record highlighting LGBTQ acceptance. The company is reasonably well known for its LGBTQ acceptance: scoring 100 out of 100 on Human Rights Campaign’s 2018 Corporate Equality Index, releasing annual LGBTQ-focused products, rolling out trans-inclusive health care included in their benefits package, etc. Attorneys representing the massive coffee provider are filing a motion for summary judgment and arguing that there is not enough evidence to show that Guthrie was calling Wade by incorrect pronouns on purpose. Without proof of intent, the Defendant contends that the behavior in itself cannot constitute discrimination under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

If you have questions about filing a discrimination lawsuit or if you experienced discrimination in the workplace, the experienced employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP can help. Get in touch with employment law office nearest you: San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange or Chicago.

Jury Awards $11M in California Sexual Harassment Case

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The $11 million verdict awarded by a California jury is just the second sizeable verdict against an employer to stem from a sexual harassment lawsuit this year. Billionaire Beverly Hills producer of holograms and celebrities, Alki David, faced sexual harassment allegations filed by his former employee, Chastity Jones.

In the complaint, Jones claimed that David touched her inappropriately, hired a stripper to put on a show at work, and insisted that she watch pornographic videos with him. Jones testified in court that because she refused to have sex with David, she was fired.

The first sexual harassment case of 2019 to receive a significant jury award on behalf of the plaintiff was also handed down from a Los Angeles jury. In January, two employees were awarded over $11 million after alleging they were sexually harassed and then retaliated against because they complained about the sexual harassment. The plaintiffs in this case, Megan Meadowcroft and Amber Brown, were former employees of Keyways Vineyard and Winery in Temecula, California. The two alleged that Carlos Pineiro, the company’s general manager, harassed them on the job.

During the Jones trial, the plaintiff’s attorney stated during opening statements that David ran his hands up Jones’ legs and ordered her to watch porn with him. Jones later testified that ea David hired a male stripper to come to the workplace and perform in celebration of an executive’s birthday. Jones stated that the stripper’s performance was offensive and qualified as another instance of sexual harassment.

While the jury agreed with Jones, David responded to the ruling by announcing that he intends to appeal.

If you need more information about what to do when you are sexually harassed in the workplace or if you need to file a workplace harassment or retaliation lawsuit, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Dodger Team Sued for Alleged Sexual Harassment

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The longtime Dodger usher, Vickie Gutierrez, is suing the team and her boss for alleged sexual harassment and backlash for reporting the behavior. The 72-year old claims that the situation has negatively affected her health.

Gutierrez filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court naming defendants Los Angeles Dodgers LLC, Los Angeles Dodgers Holding Co. LLC and Shahram Ariane and seeking unspecified damages. According to Gutierrez's claims, Ariane was the 'Dodger's executive in charge of security for the stadium and Dodger management.

Violations Cited in the Complaint Include:

•       Retaliation: one of the most frequently alleged basis of discrimination as well as one of the most common discrimination findings.

•       Sexual Battery: Unwanted contact with an intimate part of the body for sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse.

•       Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

•       Sexual Discrimination: Sex or gender discrimination involves treating someone unfavorably because of their sex.

•       Hostile Work Environment: When discriminatory behavior in the workplace creates an environment that makes it difficult or uncomfortable for another person to complete their job duties.

•       Failure to Take Appropriate Preventive or Corrective Action: When a company or superior fails to make improvements to an 'organization's processes after a complaint is made to eliminate the cause of inappropriate behavior or undesirable situations.

•       Violation of State Business and Professional Code: The business and professional codes regulate business operation in California.

If you have been the victim of discrimination or harassment in the workplace, please 'don't hesitate. Get in touch with the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP today so we can help you protect your rights on the job.

Settlement Reached with Former Port Hueneme Employee Who Filed Harassment Claim

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A former Port Hueneme employee claims she experienced harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Carmen Nichols, a former employee of Port Hueneme, filed a claim alleging both.

In response, Port Hueneme is to pay Carmen Nichols $550,000. While according to the terms of the settlement, Port Hueneme officially admits no wrongdoing, the settlement counts as a win. Nichols resigned from her position in August 2017 after being employed for 22 years. One month after she left, she filed a claim alleging misconduct by Hensley as well as other employees who allowed the Hensley’s harassment and discrimination of Nichols to continue.

In the complaint, Nichols alleged that City Council member Jim Hensley harassed and discriminated against her on numerous occasions beginning around January 2015 and continuing until she was finally forced to quit her job in August 2017. Harassment and discrimination aimed at Nichols were based on gender and race and was, in the words of Nichols, “continuous.” While opposing party claims Nichol has zero evidence of her claims, Nichols listed several instances of harassment and discrimination in her complaint.

Nichols claims that Hensley regularly referenced her looks, insinuated she wasn’t doing her job, opposed a pay raise for her when she was named for a promotion (even when she earned less than men in the same position), referenced her ethnicity (referring to her as a “Latina”), and openly expressed his dislike for Hispanics.

In a separate case citing Port Hueneme as Defendant filed by City Council member Jim Hensley, a judge found the federal lawsuit seeking monetary damages for lost wages and benefits related to his removal from some committees as well as emotional distress without merit. U.S. District Court Judge André Birotte Jr. granted the request for summary judgment. By granting the summary judgment, the judge essentially rules that Hensley’s claims were not strong enough to hold up in court and allow the case to move forward. Judge Birotte reviewed the Plaintiff’s pleadings as well as records of City Council meetings pertaining to the situation and determined there were no “genuine issues of material fact.” Hensley and his counsel feel the judge’s conclusion was inaccurate and plan to appeal.

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