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.

Ruling Could Turn California Gig Economy Giants’ Contractors Into Employees

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Uber and Lyft and other similarly situated gig-economy companies are lobbying for Californian democrats to override a recent court ruling that could require them to reclassify their independent contractors into employees. The April ruling was handed down by the California Supreme Court. The far-reaching ruling could make it significantly harder for companies across the industry to claim their workforces are not eligible employees under state wage laws.

Hoping to blunt the ruling’s impact, businesses are urging California political leaders to take action in their favor through legislation or executive action by the governor. Either move would make noise across the national debate regarding rights and roles of workers in today’s gig economy. The businesses affected by the ruling insist that it is stifling innovation and threatening the livelihoods of California workers. They seek a balance between the need for flexible, scalable work arrangements and the rights of California workers and that the definition and implication of said definition should not be simply left to the courts or determined based on old models.

In addition to many popular gig-economy businesses, the California Chamber of Commerce has been quite outspoken in opposing the new requirements indicating that the business model of today’s gig-economy companies does not lend itself to the strict structure of a traditional employer-employee relationship. The chamber argues that forcing this on the companies leaves them in an impossible position and prevents them from continuing forward with their business model. The chamber is attempting to get a legislative fix before the session closes at month’s end. Without this type of fix, they feel entire sectors of California’s economy would be left in jeopardy. As is – without a legislative fix of some sort – the on-demand economy may no longer be a viable business model, which could be devastating as people depend on it.

The California Labor Federation reiterates their support of the ruling and insists they will resist efforts to suspend or reverse. Their stance is based on record highs of income inequality and the millions of working families struggling to make ends meet in what has become an unfair economy. They feel protecting California’s workers should be the top priority of California’s leaders rather than protecting big corporations.

If you have questions about minimum wage, overtime pay, or other employee rights provided by federal and California laws, please get in touch with one of the experienced employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Chicago Cubs Dealing with Age Discrimination Lawsuit: Email Supports Bias Claims

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A former Chicago Cubs’ scout filed an age bias lawsuit that took an interesting turn when a California federal judge pointed out the potential significance of an email that included both ratings of scouts’ performances AND what the judge described as “beauty contest” descriptions listing their age and physique.

When the Los Angeles hearing started, U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson advised both parties’ attorneys that he would be focusing on how the baseball organizations’ pending motion for summary judgment would be affected by a number of internal scouting department emails. The judge ordered the Cubs to provide these emails to the court.

One email, sent in August 2015 by the Cubs scouting department’s second-in-command, assistant director of pro scouting Andrew Bassett was sent to Jared Porter, a recently hired (at the time of the email) Cubs’ director of pro scouting. The email contained information that is receiving a lot of attention from the court.

The Plaintiff’s attorney describes the contents of the email as a “ranking of scouts like Henderson [the plaintiff].” Bassett’s descriptions of the scouts in the email included references to their age, their families, their body types, and other information. The judge called into question what the physical descriptions included in the email had to do with a scout’s performance on the job – referring to the situation as the baseball organization holding beauty contests for their scouts. Henderson, 65 years old, and other older scouts were ranked poorly according to the internal email.

The Defendant’s attorney argued that all the scout’s ages were listed and that the email was presented in a casual tone, but also contained a fair evaluation of their scouts’ performances. He claimed the Cubs were entitled to summary judgment because the plaintiff was not fired. Instead, his annual contract was simply not renewed. The Defendants argue this does not constitute a wrongful act and is not liked to any sort of alleged discriminatory action.

The judge responded that he would need to review the emails in detail.

If you are experiencing discrimination in the workplace of if you are a victim of wrongful termination, 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.

Alleged Age Discrimination at Hewlett-Packard Results in Lawsuit

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Another age discrimination complaint has been lobbed at Hewlett-Packard, tech giant. The most recently filed age discrimination lawsuit was filed by Bryant Fonseca, 55, a San Diego resident. Fonseca sued in San Diego Superior Court, seeking class-action status. A Hewlett-Packard spokeswoman responded by email stating that the Palo-Alto based company doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation.

Bryant Fonseca was a Hewlett-Packard employee as a research and development buyer for close to 40 years. He claims that the tech giant terminated his employment at the Rancho Bernardo location last May as part of their 2012 plan to reduce their workforce that targeted older employees.

Prior to filing the lawsuit, Fonseca completed the required step in the process that is often skated over, filing a complaint with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing. He was granted the right to sue. Yet the interesting part of this step in the legal process is that the department has received more than 32 complaints citing age discrimination at Hewlett-Packard since July 2012. Of the 32 complaints, seven were aimed directly at the Hewlett-Packard San Diego location. Also interesting, 24 of the 32 complaints were given permission to sue the company. (Seven were dismissed or withdrawn and one was closed as it was not in the department’s jurisdiction).

In a review of age discrimination complaints to California state officials last year, USA Today found that of 12 leading tech companies since 2012, Hewlett-Packard claims the top spot. (Cisco Systems was second on the list with 11 complaints). Hewlett-Packard officially denies that their workforce reduction plan targets older workers for layoffs instead stating that their selection process is “neutral.”

If you are experiencing age discrimination in the work force or if you have been forced into a hostile work environment of any type, we want to help you. Contact one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.