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September 2012 Archives

Disabled Workers Win $1.3M from Henry's Turkey Service

It's true, discrimination laws really do apply to all employers and for all disabilities. Sometimes stories of discrimination are so surprising because you wonder if these companies really think they can get away with it. But they usually get caught, even if they think those they're discriminating against wouldn't notice.

Henry's Turkey Service, a subsidiary of Texas-based Hill Country Farms Inc., was sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for discriminating against intellectually disabled workers at a plant in Iowa by grossly underpaying them. In its lawsuit, the EEOC claimed Henry's was exploiting disabled workers because their impairments made them vulnerable and unaware of the extent to which their rights were being violated. Now a federal judge has found that there was discrimination, awarding 32 workers $1.3 million in back pay.

How badly were these workers' rights being trampled?

Good Call: NFL, Referees Union in Talks Again After 'MNF' Debacle

Anyone who has even a passing interest in football knows of the call heard 'round the world during the Packers-Seahawks game on Monday Night Football. In fact, there would be no reason to explain exactly what happened because you know.

You know because everyone knows. It was on the front page of the Houston Chronicle's website Tuesday. What you might not know is that it actually caused some movement in the lockout between the referees' union and the NFL, according to the Associated Press. The league and the refs returned to the bargaining table, trying to resolve the impasse over pensions.

What will ultimately decide this question? Will it be business judgment or popular outcry?

American Airlines Flight Attendants Take Buyout During Restructure

Say your company was going under and you had the option to either go down with the ship or be paid part of your salary all at once to leave and find another job. Unless you truly were a ship captain and your ship was sinking, you'd probably take the buyout.

More than 2,000 American Airlines flight attendants have opted to take a $40,000 buyout in the face of the airline's restructuring, according to Dallas' WFAA-TV. This option was offered in order to avoid furloughs and firings as the airline recovers from bankruptcy. This program is called "Easy Out" and was negotiated by the flight attendants' union and American.

Is a company required to give its workers severance?

Harris County Settles Gender Discrimination Case for $150k

Ah, office romances, they are the basis of many a television drama, comedy, or dramady. In real life, they tend to stick to drama as those that don’t work out tend to explode into sexual harassment or discrimination lawsuits. Not to mention of course that plenty of these office romances are affairs outside of a marriage.

This story has all of the makings of a good television drama. One of the players was reportedly married, then got divorced to pursue an office romance. All of it only to end in the woman’s demotion and a lawsuit against Harris County. To be more specific, Heather Saucier, a former employee of the county Flood Control District, allegedly entered into a relationship with a supervisor. The relationship caused the District’s director to ask Saucier to either leave the job or take a demotion so that she no longer reported to her boyfriend, according to the Houston Chronicle.

She ended up taking a 12% pay cut, according to the Chronicle. Based on these actions, Saucier filed a discrimination lawsuit. Was the settlement Harris County’s best option?

Waffle House Sued for Alleged Sexting, Threat by Manager

Where do people get their ideas about what to do after doing something illegal? It's almost like someone's out there giving horrible advice to people such as, "If you commit a crime, the best thing to do is commit another one," or "Threats make witnesses go away."

Whatever the case may be, Donald Ballard, night manager of a Waffle House in Slidell, La., made matters worse when he allegedly texted a picture of his penis to employee Charmaine Anderson, and then threatened to stab her if she reported it, according to Courthouse News Service. Ballard also allegedly pressured other waitresses to have sex with him, and asked one particular waitress if he could pay to have sex with her, according to Anderson's sexual harassment lawsuit.

What chances does Anderson have with her case?

Treasures Strip Club Must Follow Judge's Rules to Stay Open

"Treasures" sounds like something Johnny Depp was looking for in "Pirates of the Caribbean." But locals may know it as a place where Depp or any other single man can go to look for some late-night adult entertainment.

The famous strip club in Houston has run into some trouble with the law recently, but thanks to a judge the club will stay open as long as it sticks to some new conditions, according to KHOU-TV. Some of the conditions include firing any employee who is convicted of a felony, instituting random employee drug tests, and installing extra security cameras so city attorneys can review the video.

Do these conditions constitute an intrusion on employees' privacy?

Ex-Flight Attendant Sued for Airing Complaints Via Blog

The airlines. What can be said about them these days? More and more news is coming out about making rows smaller and making us pay for more benefits that we used to take for granted.

These complaints are typically the plight of coach passengers, but not in this case. A flight attendant (now former flight attendant Gailen David) posted information on his blog about American Airlines executives and their wives allegedly bumping passengers from first class and holding planes, forcing people to miss their connections, according to Courthouse News Service. David was fired and then sued for posting the so-called "confidential" information on his website.

The lawsuit has been settled, forcing David to stop posting this information online, according to Courthouse News. Why weren't his actions protected as whistleblowing?

Employee Claims Safety Vision Fired Her for Impaired Vision

This story could only be more ironic if the company sold the medical devices that are used to perform surgery on the eye. Instead, Safety Vision supplies onboard video technology, like that on the dash of a police car or on a public bus.

Safety Vision has been accused of firing a woman after she requested reasonable accommodation for her eye condition. Jaclyn Jurach had an eye procedure before she started working at Safety Vision that caused her to be extremely sensitive to artificial light, according to The Southeast Texas Register. Jurach claims she had to repeatedly ask to be moved, to no avail. After her final request, she claims she was fired.

How can an employer avoid this situation?

Dig This: Texas Landscapers Sue for Overtime

It may come as a surprise, but the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") does not apply to everyone. Even so, it seems like every week there is a new case about some employer failing to pay minimum wage or overtime to its employees.

In federal court in Sherman, two landscape workers have filed a lawsuit against A&A Landscape and Irrigation on behalf of themselves and all other A&A employees claiming they worked as long as 12 hours a day, six days a week, without being paid overtime, according to The Southeast Texas Record.

The workers' lawsuit alleges a violation of the FLSA. So what types of employers must comply with the FLSA?