On The Border Mexican Grill Face Race Harassment Lawsuit

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On The Border, a popular Tex-Mex restaurant faces race harassment allegations. According to the suit, Michael Carethers, an African-American cook at the restaurant’s Holtsville, NY location, was regularly subjected to verbal assaults including harassment and offensive language from his co-workers. Allegedly, the co-workers used offensive racial slurs and other offensive terms to refer to Carethers. According to the suit, the restaurant failed to stop the harassment.

According to the lawsuit, On the Border’s management was aware of the situation and, in some cases, present during the time of the harassment. Management failed to stop the abuse or address the situation by disciplining those employees who were involved. The complaint states that the harassment was occurring multiple times per week.

Discrimination based on race (and other bases) is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It also prohibits retaliation for reporting or openly opposing discrimination. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Pre-litigation settlement discussions through conciliation were not successful. Plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief to prevent this situation from recurring.

According to the company’s website, On the Border is the U.S.’s largest casual Mexican restaurant chain and currently has more than 140 locations with 6,000 employees across the country.

If you need to discuss an issue of discrimination in the workplace or if you have been discriminated against during the employment application process, please get in touch with one of 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.

Former Coast Hills CEO Files Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

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Former Coast Hills Credit Union CEO, Jeff York, filed a wrongful termination lawsuit including 16 allegations of misconduct. The Coast Hills board chairman, Bill Anders, responded claiming that York is asserting “false allegations.” York filed the wrongful termination suit on July 6th, 2018, just a few months after he was allegedly terminated “without cause” after an administrative leave that began on February 6th, 2018.

Claims of misconduct made against Coast Hills include:

·      Wrongful Termination

·      Retaliation

·      Labor Code Violations

·      Defamation

·      False Light

·      Breach of Contract

York claims he endured a year-long period during which the credit union and its board of directors acted against York through various events and conduct.

The company claims allegations made by York are an attempt to sully the reputations of named directors and stating that they wish York had limited his claims to a suit against the credit union. They reiterate that just because claims are made in a lawsuit does not mean that they are true. Coast Hills continues to vigorously defend the credit union’s reputation, the reputation of their members, their staff and their volunteers. The credit union claims that in terminating York’s employment, as in all their personnel decisions, they were acting in the best interests of their members.

Both parties have retained legal representation.

York also alleged that numerous executives at the credit union pushed toward resigning or were terminated due to their support of York and his claims of misconduct on the part of the credit union. Since this information came to light, Lisa Harlow, a former Coast Hills senior vice president and chief human resources officer also filed a lawsuit claiming wrongful termination. Dave Upham, former executive vice president, Rob Covarrubias, former senior vice president, and Linda Van Dyke, former administrative assistant, have all made similar complaints against the credit union.

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

California Judge Refuses to Pause Franklin Templeton ERISA suit

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Franklin Templeton’s motion to stay was denied by a California federal judge, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken. The Defendant filed the motion requesting a stay pending the outcome of an appeal to the Ninth Circuit, but the judge denied the motion stating that she did not rely on the case before the appellate court when she granted class certification.

Plaintiffs in the case allege that Franklin Resources Inc. stacked its employees’ 401(k) plan with company products rather than offering better-performing funds. The judge’s decision to certify the class of workers making the allegations was based on the Ninth Circuit’s 1999 ruling in Bowles v. Reade – not on another federal judge’s opinion in an ERISA suit against USC as the Defendant, Franklin Templeton, claimed.

The Defendant argued that the Ninth Circuit’s ruling on the appeal of the decision in Munro v. University of California would affect class certification in the case currently being considered before Judge Wilken. Wilken was not convinced. Wilken responded that it was possible the cited ruling could affect the case, but that Franklin Resources Inc. did not show that is was certain or even likely that it would. It was also noted that if it did affect the case it would simply affect class action status, not whether the case could be brought at all. The Defendant would have to face the claims of the lead Plaintiff, Marlon H. Cryer, (and other individuals) either way.

The judge also noted that the company would not face any significant penalty of harm if a stay were not issued as the Munro ruling would have a minimal effect on the case, but that workers could experience great harm if forced to wait to pursue their claims. A stay of this nature could last for over 2 years. Additionally, the judge pointed out that this type of ongoing injury to the plaintiffs would be difficult to quantify at the end of the case.

The original lawsuit against Franklin Templeton was filed in July 2016, including allegations that the firm breached its fiduciary duties under ERISA. Allegations were made that the Defendant had its 401(k) plan invest hundreds of millions of dollars into mutual funds with high fees managed by itself and its subsidiaries. Workers were granted class certification in July 2017. Judge Wilken consolidated the case with a similar proposed class action filed against the company by Nelly Fernandez in April. Fernandez sought class certification in May claiming that the company also engaged in prohibited transactions. Additional individual defendants were named.

If you have questions about ERISA or what constitutes a breach of fiduciary duty, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

VW’s Rebranding Effort Allegedly Included Policy to Purge Older Workers

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In response to a 2015 diesel emissions scandal, Volkswagen AG instituted a rebranding strategy. According to a 53-year old worker, Jonathan Manlove, the rebranding strategy allegedly included a policy to remove older employees from the company. The worker claiming age discrimination filed a collective action in Tennessee federal court.

Manlove claimed in the complaint that VW’s attempt to create a distraction from the diesel emissions scandal fallout or what has become known as the Dieselgate scandal with two different rebranding labor campaigns included clear discrimination violations. Particularly, the company planned to get rid of management positions that were filled by “older” employees. The plaintiff alleged that the new policy was in clear violation of U.S. age discrimination laws.

The rebranding strategies were implemented in 2016 with the twin policies: TRANSFORM 2025+ and Pact for the Future. They were implemented globally. According to American law, VW’s policy of purging older employees from their management ranks is illegal age discrimination.

The plaintiff stated in the complaint that VW’s own press releases on their new strategies made clear their intentions to eliminate older employees. The company openly stated that they would be using early retirements and “natural fluctuations” in order to reach their rebranding strategy goals to become “slimmer, leaner and younger.” 

Manlove filed suit on behalf of VW employees in the United States of America over the age of 50. Manlove worked as a VW assistant manager in logistics before he was demoted in June 2017. The demotion came only days after the VW announcement that the company would be creating a younger workforce at management levels.

VW advised Manlove he had one hear to find and obtain another assistant manager position at the company before the move would become a permanent demotion. Yet somehow Manlove’s positive performance reviews did nothing to keep him from being assigned to remain in the demoted position by VW Human Resources as well as being advised he was not allowed to apply for openings at the company.

According to the complaint, many others were affected. Since the announcement of the policy change, six employees under the age of 30 were promoted to assistant manager positions at the logistics department of VW at the Chattanooga, Tennessee manufacturing facility where Manlove was employed. At the same time, only two over 50 employees retained their assistant manager positions.

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

Overtime Settlement For Health Workers Gets Final Approval

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Health workers were granted the requested final approval on an overtime settlement in their class action lawsuit against the Defendant Health Resource Solutions (HRS). Allegations were made that HRS failed to pay legally required overtime to healthcare workers in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Sources report that the healthcare company misclassified a group of clinicians, registered nurses, occupational therapists, and other therapists, categorizing them as exempt from overtime pay. The judge noted that the $900,000 overtime settlement was fair, reasonable and adequate. He also made note that it seemed in the best interest of the class members who were settling.

The settlement would include covering:

·      $7,878 – settlement administration expenses

·      $300,000 – attorney’s fees

·      $7,500 – to the class representative

·      70 additional claims that were filed prior to the parties’ cutoff on April 2nd.

The class representative is plaintiff Monique B. One class member opted out of the deal with no other objections made. The plaintiff and the Class allege that HRS was in violation of both the FLSA and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law by misclassifying their employees that work with patients on a homecare basis as exempt. The settlement will end the litigation brought by the hybrid class and the collection action brought forth by Monique against HRS and co-owners of HRS, Robert M. and Glenn S.

The allegations in the original complaint indicated that the company, HRS, and the company’s owners knew that the employees being classified as exempt did not actually meet the necessary qualifications for the classification. In order for an employee to be legally classified as exempt, they must demonstrate the worker performs job duties that meet certain criteria and that they received compensation on either a salary or fee basis. According to the complaint, HRS created its own pay structure for workers.

·      Office time and staff meetings were compensated on an hourly basis.

·      Advancement was set for visits’ pay.

·      Travel time, scheduling/coordinating patient care with providers/speaking to patients about scheduling was not compensated.

·      Additionally, overtime weeks to which employees worked but were not compensated totaled 10,000 employee weeks.

The allegedly misclassified employees included 175 people. It has been reported that HRS will first cover employee claims and any settlement money remaining will be retained.

If you are considering filing an FLSA class action lawsuit or if you have questions about being misclassified, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Misclassification Lawsuit Filed Against Axelhire by Delivery Driver

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A new delivery driver misclassification lawsuit was filed against Axelhire Inc., a California based company providing same-day delivery services to ecommerce businesses and brick and mortar retail locations. The suit was filed by a group of employees that allege the company intentionally misclassified them as contract workers in order to save money by avoiding the payment of work-related expenses. This California delivery driver misclassification lawsuit was filed by three lead plaintiffs in California: James K., Krisia B. and Shemicka J.

The three plaintiffs filed the suit on behalf of themselves and other employees in similar situations. The three plaintiffs named above conjointly filed the delivery driver misclassification lawsuit with each claiming that they bore a number of different work-related expenses that should have been covered by the company.

According to the California misclassification lawsuit, class members previously worked or currently work for Axelhire Inc. during certain time periods:

·      James was a delivery driver for Axelhire from April 2017 to current in Los Angeles.

·      Krisia was a delivery driver for Axelhire from March 2017 to December 2017 in Los Angeles.

·      Shemicka was a delivery driver for Axelhire from October 2015 to November 2016 in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The plaintiffs allege that they were not reimbursed for work-related expenses (i.e. fuel, mileage, vehicle maintenance, missing compensation, missing overtime, etc.) Each of the three original plaintiffs were allegedly never paid a regular hourly wage or overtime wages. They were also allegedly not offered the chance to take required meal and rest period breaks.

If you are not paid for your overtime hours in accordance with California state and federal labor law, please get in touch with the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.