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May 2011 Archives

Olive Garden Employees to Receive Back Wages For FLSA Violation

The U.S. Department of Labor has announced that hundreds of current and former Olive Garden servers in Mesquite, TX were not being paid proper wages. As a result of the federal investigation, Darden Restaurants Inc. (which does business as Olive Garden in Mesquite) was found to have violated several provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

FOX News reports that Darden Restaurants will be paying $25,570 in back wages to a group of 140 Olive Garden employees. The restaurant will also have to pay $30,800 to the government in civil penalties.

Manager Sues Mediquip International for Failure to Promote

Former Mediquip International manager Stephanie Hill claims that she was passed over for a promotion at the medical equipment provider because of her race and gender. While the company CEO may say that the failure to promote Hill was not discriminatory and instead due to the employee’s unassertive demeanor, Hill is now filing a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division.

The suit names Armstrong Industries Inc. as the defendant, which does business as Mediquip International Inc, according to Southeast Texas Record. The plaintiff in this case is a Hispanic female, who worked as a manager for Mediquip International in the Fort Worth area. She claims that she was not considered for the position of North Texas Regional Manager and that the position was given to a white male.

The Laws on Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying can be a serious matter as studies show that repeated verbal abuse in the office can cause psychological harm and even affect an employee's health. However, at this time, there are not many laws in Texas or at the federal level that prohibit workplace bullying.

Unless the bullying or verbal abuse is a form of discrimination based on sex, race, religion, national origin, or another protected class, then there's not usually any legal violations caused by the mean behavior. However, the Houston Chronicle reports that some lobbyists and organizations are trying to change this.

Dwarf Barista Files Discrimination Lawsuit Against Starbucks

A dwarf (some prefer the term "little person") who was hired in July 2009 to work as a barista at a Starbucks location in El Paso, was fired after just three days of training when she asked for a stool or small stepladder so that she would be able to perform her job duties. According to Reuters, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims that Starbucks violated federal laws by denying a reasonable accommodation to the employee.

Supervisors apparently told the employee that she was fired because she could be a possible danger to customers and other Starbucks workers. But with EEOC, the former dwarf barista is now filing a lawsuit against Starbucks, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Former Sonic Drive-In Manager Sues, Claims Retaliation

Michael Hubbard used to work as a manager for a Sonic Drive-In Center in Texas, but claims that he was fired from his position after supporting his female co-workers who complained about sexual harassment. Because this type of retaliation is unlawful, Hubbard has filed a lawsuit against Center SDI, which does business as Sonic Drive-In.

According to The Southeast Texas Record, Hubbard is seeking damages for mental, emotional and psychological damages, lost compensation, punitive damages, attorney's fees, interest and court costs. While working at Sonic, the plaintiff claims that female employees complained to him that their general manager was sexually harassing them. Hubbard reported these complaints to higher management, but he claimed that that he was told that "male supervisors were supposed to stick together."

Shontel Mayfield used to be the business manager of the Estee Lauder "workcenter" Dillard's, but the employee claims that she was fired from her position after complying with a mandatory evacuation order in advance of Hurricane Ike in 2008. The Southeast Texas Record reports that Mayfield was told that she was fired for "excessive absenteeism" by not communicating with the store manager or the operations manager about her absences.

Yet Mayfield's story claims otherwise. The former employee says that she called managers and the store numerous times at the time of Hurricane Ike, stating that she was taking time off in order to comply with the Jefferson County evacuation order. Mayfield instead believes that her termination was a form of retaliation based on complaints that she had made of racial discrimination in the workplace.

Employee Sues For Workers' Compensation Retaliation

Under federal law, all employees have rights when it comes to workplace safety. Injured employees are usually able to receive workers' compensation insurance, no matter who was at fault for the work-related injury.

Ultimate Conroe reports that a former employee of Anderson Pollution Control recently filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging workers' compensation retaliation. Employee James Howes claimed that he sustained severe head and neck injuries while working at a plant in Pasadena and that he was told by his employer not to file a workers' compensation claim.

A group of mentally disabled workers in Iowa will receive money in back wages after a federal judge found that that Hill Country Farms, of Goldthwaite, Texas, violated U.S. labor laws. According to Forbes, the Texas company will have to specifically pay $1.76 million in back wages and damages for violating the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Hill Country Farms, which does business as Henry's Turkey Service, failed to pay 31 mentally disabled workers proper wages at their West Liberty processing plant in Iowa. The lawsuit stated that these men suffered from significant pay cuts because a large portion of their wages was taken to pay for the required room, board, and care at the turkey-processing plant.

New ADA Regulations to Take Effect on May 24

Disability discrimination claims in the workplace are on the rise and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission can expect to see even more of these discrimination claims in the future. This is because the final regulations of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 are taking effect on May 24, which means there will soon be a wider range of what is considered a disability in the workplace.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that with the new laws, employers will likely have to spend more time in the future to accommodate disabled employees.

EEOC Sees Decrease in Number of Sexual Harassment Complaints reports that 11,717 sexual harassment complaints were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) last year. This may seem like a large number, but it's actually a significant decrease from the 15,475 sexual harassment complaints filed in 2001.

Why the decrease in employment sexual harassment cases? This could be due to a number of reasons, including tougher policies in the workplace and more education among employers on how to prevent harassment in the workplace. The finance, insurance and real estate industries have reportedly seen the biggest drop in sexual harassment charges over the past decade, where 266 complaints were filed in 2010 compared to 641 complaints in 2001.

Man Loses Job After Refusing to Shave Facial Hair

It's not exactly uncommon for a company to require its employees to be clean-shaven, but one man is now taking legal action after being terminated from his job because of his facial hair. Former Unifirst Corp. employee John Scott Lodge has filed a lawsuit against the company in the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division, claiming wrongful termination, according to The Southeast Texas Record.

Lodge claims that he was told that he would be able to keep his goatee when he was first hired to work with Unifirst Corp. Yet a week into the new job, Lodge says that he was asked to shave off his facial hair, according to the Record. When he refused to do so, Lodge was allegedly fired from his job with Unifirst.