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February 2011 Archives

Age Discrimination Claim Filed Against Jarvis Christian College

A 60-year-old woman who used to work as the executive secretary to the president at Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins is now suing the academic institution, alleging violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. According to The Southeast Texas Record, the elderly employee Emma J. Robinson claims that she was demoted from her position and replaced by an employee who was more than 15 years younger than she.

In this case, the plaintiff claims that the new executive secretary that replaced her had less seniority and fewer qualifications. When Robinson asked the college president why she was being demoted, she was reportedly told by the manager, "I am the President."

College of Mainland Named in Wrongful Termination Suit

An employee who once worked in the mathematics department at College of the Mainland in Galveston County has filed suit against the community college and Texas Workforce Commission, claiming that she lost her job after filing a workers’ compensation claim. The Southeast Texas Record reports that employee Sharon K. Malone initially filed for workers compensation after becoming ill from mold exposure at COM.

Apparently water pipes broke in COM’s math department in 2001, which caused mold to surface in the facility over the next several years. When Malone filed for a workers’ compensation claim after developing an illness, she was reportedly told that her injury was non-compensable and she was eventually fired. Hence, the Texas Department of Insurance instructed Malone to bring her case to court.

Former Employee Sues Christian Television Network Daystar

A Christian television network based in Bedford is now under fire and facing a bit of legal trouble. A former employee of the company has apparently filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the network Daystar, according to Dallas Morning News, claiming that she was subjected to a hostile work environment due to her supervisor making unwanted sexual advances.

The lawsuit, which was reportedly filed in Dallas’ federal court on February 16, states that, among other things, the employee Jennifer Falcon was forced to engage in prolonged hugs with her supervisor Bill Trammal. Falcon employee was also allegedly asked twice to sit on Trammal’s lap.

Discrimination Against the Jobless

There’s currently a hiring trend across the country that favors applicants that already have jobs as opposed to those who are unemployed. The Seattle Times reports that a Texas electronics company said in a job announcement online that they would “not consider/review anyone NOT currently employed regardless of the reason.” Another restaurant in New Jersey said applicants must be employed in order to be considered for a position.

Yet employment lawyers across the country are questioning the legal implications of this practice of discriminating against the jobless. While the unemployed are not a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, excluding unemployed job applicants appears to affect mostly African-American, Hispanic and elderly workers.

Can You Be Fired For What You Post on Facebook?

An employee who worked for American Medical Response of Connecticut Inc. was fired after writing comments outlining how she really felt about her boss on Facebook. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the employee, Dawnmarie Souza, was told that she was being terminated from her position for violating the company's internet policies when she wrote disparaging marks about her supervisor.

Yet it may not be legal to prohibit employees from discussing issues like their working conditions or wages with other employees, even if they do it on Facebook, instead of standing around the water cooler. The case brings into question of what an employer can and cannot do when it comes to regulating what employees say on social networking websites.

Minor Claims She Was Harassed at Light N Go

People under the age of 18 still have the same rights in the workplace as adults, including the right to sue in cases of sexual harassment.

The Southeast Texas Record reports that a minor girl filed suit against her manager Shane Atul Joshi at Light N Go, alleging that she was harassed, groped and threatened while working with the company. Apparently, the employee only worked as a sales person at the Parkdale Mall location in Beaumont for five days before she quit the job because she felt that she could not defend herself in the hostile work environment.

Pizza Hut Employee Fired After Complaining of Pregnancy Discrimination

Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, it is illegal to to treat a female applicant or employee unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or other related medical condition. FindLaw states that an employer must also provide reasonable accommodations for a woman during pregnancy under the law.

Yet America's favorite pizza chain has been accused of violating employment laws. As a result, a former employee of Pizza Hut is now filing a lawsuit against the chain's franchise NPC International after claiming that she was a victim of pregnancy discrimination while working for the company. The Southeast Texas Record reports that the plaintiff Serena F. Foster claims that discrimination deprived her of wages, including raises and bonuses.

Adult Entertainment Clubs in Houston Settle Age Bias Lawsuit

Two strip clubs in Houston, both owned by brothers Ali and Hassan Davari, were recently accused of age discrimination after a 56-year-old female waitress was fired from one of the entertainment clubs "without provocation or explanation." Yet it looks like all the hype is over and the elderly employee will now be walking away with $60,000 in the case.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the plaintiff, Mary Bassi, alleged that managers at Cover Girls harassed her because of her age and referred to her as "old." On one occasion, a manager apparently told Bassi that she was exhibiting signs of Alzheimer's disease, which is frequently associated with old age. Similar harassment also allegedly took place at Centerfolds, where Bassi previously worked before Cover Girls.

EEOC Gets Involved in Jane Draycott Harassment Case

Houston firefighter Jane Draycott made media headlines last year after she claimed to have found racist and sexist graffiti scrawled on her locker at Fire Station 54. Apparently the female firefighter was not only harassed by male co-workers but also by supervisors of the Houston Fire Department. Many people in the community say that the fire department did not take Draycott’s harassment allegations seriously and it looks like the city of Houston can be paying a high price because of it.

FOX News reports that the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found that Draycott was indeed forced into a hostile work environment because of her gender. Employment lawyers expect that Draycott will now walk away from this case with a large settlement, although they have so far declined to say how much money Draycott is asking for.

People who are struggling to find a job in the Houston area might not be having trouble for much longer. The Houston Business Journal now reports that the unemployment rate in the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown metro area was at 8.3 percent in December 2010, which was down from 8.6 percent the month prior. Apparently there were 8,000 non-agricultural jobs added to the region in the month of December.

According to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), trade, transportation and utilities sectors in the state saw the biggest job gains at the end of last year. Approximately 8,500 people across the state of Texas moved off of the state's unemployment list, with 20,000 non-farm jobs being added to the workforce statewide.

CA Bill Could Give Medical Marijuana Patients Right to Work

Drug testing in the workplace has always been controversial among employment lawyers. Throughout recent history, the United States Supreme Court has held that both blood and urine collection are minimally intrusive procedures and that such procedures are not harmful nor invasive to applicants or employees. Hence, both private and public employers often legally test prospective employees for alcohol or drug use.

Employment drug testing can be most problematic in states that allow for medical marijuana, but also allow employers to deny medical marijuana patients employment based on results from a positive drug test. Now, a proposed California law could become the first of its kind to address this issue. Lawmakers have introduced legislation that would prevent California employers from discriminating against medical marijuana patients.