Will Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Force Google HR Changes?

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The recent settlement Google reached for an age discrimination lawsuit included wide range change in the company’s HR practices – particularly their recruiting practices and employee surveys. This lawsuit was different than others with similar claims due to the management changes the plaintiffs demanded. It is a good example of the potential impact discrimination lawsuits can have on hiring and firing.

The original complaint was filed in 2015. The Google age discrimination lawsuit alleged that the median age for U.S. workers is 42, but that Google’s median employee age is 29. The suit further claimed that Google favored job applicants under 40 in their hiring process. The lead plaintiff in the case was Cheryl Fillekes, who has a Ph.D. in geophysics. She was invited to four separate job interviews with Google from the age of 47+, but she was never hired. She claimed it was due to age discrimination and filed a complaint in federal court in California.

The age discrimination class action case was settled in federal court for $11 million. Over 200 parties were involved. As a result of this case, Google was required to train their employees and managers regarding age-based bias. They also had to create a subcommittee for their recruiting operations that focused solely on age diversity in their engineering departments. Google will need to make sure that their marketing reflects age diversity, and that employees leaving the company are surveyed about any possible discrimination.

The plaintiffs in the case hope that the training and survey requirements included in the settlement raise awareness of the issue of age discrimination as well as help to decrease bias against older, highly experienced tech professionals who struggle to find employment. The purpose of the subcommittee is to make sure the hiring process is not structured to discriminate against older applicants and the increased diversity in marketing materials is intended to encourage a more diverse group of applicants.

If you have experienced age discrimination during the hiring process or in the workplace, please get in touch with the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP so we can help.

Gender Discrimination: Female Pilot Too Short to Fly the Phenom is Fired and Male Pilots Too Tall are Reassigned

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The company hired Drerup in 2015 to fly the Phenom aircraft, a light jet aircraft with the capacity to carry up to 11. The company publicly claims this plane is one of the finest small, private jets in the industry. While Drerup was in training it became obvious that she could not fly the Phenom because her legs were too short to reach the pedals. Drerup claims that NetJets responded by advising her to buy a booster seat or wear platform shoes…whatever she needed to do to make it work. Drerup does not argue the fact that she cannot fly the Phenom, she admits she is too short to do so. She claims she even advised her trainers of this fact as well as letting them know that she was trained and rated to pilot five other types of aircraft, including the Cessna which NetJets actively uses in their operations.

When Drerup attended a meeting the next day, she expected to be transferred to another airplane. Instead she was given a termination letter, they took her badge, her credit cards, her iPad, and her cellphone. She claims they treated her like a criminal. To make the entire situation worse, Drerup claims that three male co-workers were transferred to other planes because they had the exact opposite issue piloting the Phenom, they were too tall.

If you are experiencing discrimination in the workplace, please get in touch with Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP. Our employment law attorneys have the resources and experience companies fear in litigation.

Jones Day Gender Discrimination Case Only Gets Bigger

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Recent news in the Jones Day gender discrimination indicates the case will only get bigger as a former New York associate came forward. The lawsuit filed by former Jones Day associates has now spread to New York. The original suit was filed by two plaintiffs and four anonymous Jane Doe plaintiffs. The plaintiffs alleged that Jones Day supported a “fraternity culture” and that their “black box” compensation system resulted in women receiving significantly lower pay than male counterparts. Jessica Jardine Wilkes previously spent time working at the Jones Day Menlo Park, California office and joined the suit a few weeks ago. More recently, Katrina Henderson joined the suit.

Henderson is the latest former Jones Day associate to come forward and the first to come forward after working for a Jones Day office in New York. She spent over two years working for Jones Day before leaving for a job in-house. She appears to have been employed by the firm’s New York office from October 2013 through July 2016. At that point, she joined Pixar Animation Studios starting August 2016. She recently moved from Pixar to Amazon Studios in Santa Monica, California.

The parties continue to argue over whether or not the Jane Doe plaintiffs should be allowed to retain their anonymity. The firm insists the plaintiffs should reveal their names, but the plaintiffs assert they should maintain anonymity for the duration of the litigation. One plaintiff compared her situation to that of a whistleblower.

If you have are experiencing gender discrimination on the job or if you need to file California gender discrimination lawsuit, please get in touch with the experienced employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP so we 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 and protect you from labor law violations.

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.

Did Misclassifying Drivers as Contractors Save Uber $500M?

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In recent news, a lawsuit claims that the popular ridesharing firm, Uber, saved more than $500 million by misclassifying their drivers as independent contractors. The California class action seeks justice in response to Uber allegedly ignoring a previous ruling issued earlier in the year.

The class action lawsuit was brought to California federal courts on behalf of local business, Diva’s Limousine. The suit alleges that Uber unfairly stole business from traditional taxi service-based companies by using deceitful methods and unethical tactics that purposefully skirted around the law. According to the complaint, Uber low-balled drivers’ wages in order to increase the company’s profit margin through misclassification of drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.

The plaintiff claims that these deceitful methods/tactics are a workaround that goes against the ruling issued previously this year by the California Supreme Court in the case Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court. The plaintiff also claims that by ignoring the previous ruling to misclassifying drivers, Uber stands to avoid payment of approximately $9.07 per hour in expenses/benefits to their drivers (i.e. minimum wage, mandated breaks, unemployment compensation, social security, Medicare, etc.)

Uber employees across the world have been fighting this particular battle and it has not been an easy fight. Late in 2017 a London tribunal classified drivers as employees. This directly conflicted with rulings in US courts where the opposite was believed to be true. Uber is currently appealing a lawsuit in Brazil resulting in similar findings. A Philadelphia courtroom ruled earlier this year that the provisions under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act prevented UberBlack drivers from being classified as employees. This was the first ruling of its kind; classifying Uber drivers as non-employees under federal law.

If you have questions about misclassification or if you have been misclassified by your employer, please get in touch with one of the experienced California 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.

Nike Faces Lawsuit Alleging Systemic Gender Discrimination

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Two women formerly employed by Nike claim in a recently filed lawsuit that women are devalued and demeaned by the company through systemic gender discrimination. The two former employees, Kelly Cahill and Sara Johnston, claim that they were paid significantly less than male co-workers for similar work and that they were also passed up for promotions due to their gender. The suit was originally filed in Nike’s home state of Oregon by the two former employees seeking class action status. The federal suit alleges that Nike violated the Equal Pay Act.

The plaintiffs want the court to order the company to institute new policies that would alter the way the company treats women, providing equal opportunity for employees regardless of their gender and combatting the negative effects of their current (and past) unlawful employment practices. The plaintiffs also seek reinstatement at Nike and back pay.

The spokesperson for Nike cited Nike’s long-standing commitment to inclusion and diversity and claimed that the company opposes any type of discrimination. She also went on to say that Nike is committed to competitive pay and benefits for all employees. She declined to answer specific questions about the lawsuit.

Plaintiffs point to respected news sites in their complaints (The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times) as having described Nike’s culture as allowing gender bias and sexual harassment. Additionally, is has been reported that the CEO, Mark Parker, apologized to employees at the company over the handling of workplace misconduct allegations and 11 or more executives have left the company in the last several months. Other changes happening at Nike that could be related to the current legal trouble is that Nike announced pay increases for 7,000 employees last month. The company described the move as an attempt to support a culture where employees can feel included and empowered.

According to the Suit, Cahill was a former Nike producer and director from 2013 to 2017. She left the company due to a “hostile work environment” and ineffective handling of complaints to HR. She also alleges that she was paid $20,000 less than a male co-worker with similar job duties. Cahill also claims that a former Nike vice president used derogatory names to refer to women and singled out a female employee for overly harsh criticism by yelling at her repeatedly in public.

Complaints were allegedly filed to HR about the employee by Cahill and other women at Nike, but the Nike vice president was promoted in 2017. According to reporters at The Wall Street Journal, he was forced to leave the company in April.

Johnston, the second plaintiff, was employed by Nike from 2008 to 2017. She alleges that she received inappropriate sexual messages and nude photos of himself by a male co-worker after a Nike-organized party. After telling him to stop sending her messages that were not related to work, he continued to send inappropriate messages and photos. He also later started to refuse to attend meetings that she organized at work. The harassment was reported to Johnston’s supervisors, but the response she received from one of the supervisors was that the Nike culture revolved around alcohol and that the rise of the internet and cell phones have simply make drunk messages of that nature a part of the current generation. Johnston complained to HR about the situation, but the male co-worker was shortly after promoted to a management position that required her to work closely with him. She claims she was denied higher ratings on her annual review in retaliation for her response to the situation and her complaints of sexual harassment. Johnston also alleges that her starting salary was $2,000 less than a male co-worker for the same job. She claims she had more relevant work experience and superior credentials and even helped train him on the job.

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