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Features Court Cases in the News

Clark Law Group

A state-by-state review of court cases pertaining to workplace rights.

Select your state from the map below or from this list. (If your state does not have any court cases, then the page will not scroll down when you click on the state.)


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California

Farmworker Sexual Harassment Suit Settled for $27K

Source: AP, Mercury News
Date: April 11, 2011

A California farm company is paying $27,500 to settle a federal sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed on behalf of a teenage vegetable packer.

Adam Brothers Farming Settles EEOC Sexual Harassment And Retaliation Suit

Source: EEOC, EEOC
Date: April 8, 2011

Adam Brothers Farming, Inc., a farm in Santa Maria, Calif., that harvests and cans vegetables, will pay $27,500 and furnish other relief to settle a federal sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of a teen Latina female, the agency announced today.

$212K for Sergeant in Sex Harassment Case

Source: AP, SF Gate
Date: February 4, 2011

Jurors have decided a Los Angeles County sheriff's sergeant should get $211,700 for enduring years of sexual harassment by a lieutenant.

San Pedro Woman Awarded $3.2M in Wage Dispute with Sportswear Firm

Source: Daily Breeze, Daily Breeze
Date: January 28, 2011

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated for about a half-hour before finding in favor of Michelle Thomas in her wrongful termination case against TapouT.

Concord Settles Sex-Bias Suit With Female Cop

Source: Henry K. Lee, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: January 26, 2011

The highest-ranking woman in the Concord Police Department has reached a $150,000 settlement with the city over a lawsuit claiming that she was harassed and discriminated against because of her gender, attorneys in the case said Tuesday.

Livermore Retirees Sue University Over Health Care Benefits

Source: Elizabeth Lesly Stevens, New York Times
Date: January 3, 2011

...a State Superior Court judge is considering a lawsuit that Mr. Davis, now 68, and three of his fellow Livermore retirees have brought against the Regents of the University of California.

Concord to Pay $750,000 in Settlement with Former Police Officer

Source: Paul Thissen, Contra Costa Times
Date: November 10, 2010

The City Council voted Tuesday to pay $750,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former police officer - on the condition that her lawyer never file another such suit against the city.

L.A. County Jury Awards $4 Million to Former LAPD Officer

Source: Joel Rubin, LA Times
Date: November 3, 2010

Jurors concluded the officer was fired in retaliation for testifying against the department in a labor dispute.

Woman Entitled to Settlement in Workplace Spanking Case, Jury Rules

Source: Pablo Lopez, Kansas City Star
Date: October 27, 2010

A California woman is entitled to the $1.4 million that her former employer and its insurance carriers agreed to pay her to settle her sexual-harassment lawsuit, a Fresno County Superior Court jury ruled Tuesday.

Casey Affleck Settles Sex Harassment Cases

Source: Matthew Belloni, ABC News
Date: September 15, 2010

"I'm Still Here" filmmaker Casey Affleck has settled the sexual harassment cases filed against him by two women who worked on the controversial pseudo-documentary about Joaquin Phoenix.

Britney Spears Accused of Sexual Harassment

Source: Jill Serjean, ABC News
Date: September 9, 2010

A former bodyguard for Britney Spears filed a sexual harassment lawsuit on Wednesday accusing the pop star of repeatedly parading herself around in the nude and having sex in front of him.

HP Sues Ex-CEO Hurd Over New Job At Rival Oracle

Source: AP, NPR
Date: September 8, 2010

Hewlett-Packard Co. is suing Mark Hurd, the chief executive it ousted last month, to stop him from taking a top job at rival Oracle Corp.

Abercrombie & Fitch Hit With Bias Lawsuit From Muslim Job Applicant

Source: Howard Mintz, Mercury News
Date: September 2, 2010

Federal civil rights lawyers on Wednesday sued clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch on behalf of an 18-year-old Muslim woman who alleges the company's store at the Great Mall in Milpitas refused to hire her for wearing a religious head scarf, the second time the national chain has been hit with a similar discrimination lawsuit.

Wal-Mart Suit Over Sex Bias Carries High Stakes

Source: Steven Greenhouse, Salt Lake Tribune
Date: August 30, 2010

The case began nearly a decade ago with one woman, Stephanie Odle, who was upset to discover that the top manager at the Sam's Club where she worked as an assistant store manager had been administering a promotion test to the three male assistant store managers but not to her.

Wal-Marts Asks Supremes To Wade Into Sex-Discrimination Case

Source: Nathan Koppel, Wall Street Journal
Date: August 26, 2010

Surprising no one, Wal-Mart has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to get involved in the mammoth - and we do mean mammoth - sex-discrimination suit pending against it in California.

Geek sues over age bias

Source: Peter Funt, The Monterey County Herald
Date: August 18, 2010

A fellow named Brian Reid is suing Google for allegedly firing him because of his age. Reid offers as proof the fact that co-workers called him an "old fuddy-duddy."

Settlement in harassment suit against airport firm

Source: AP, Bloomberg.com
Date: August 10, 2010

Aircraft services provider Mercury Air Centers is paying $600,000 to settle a 2008 federal lawsuit accusing an employee at its Burbank airport operation berated fellow workers with sexual and racial comments.

Decision paves way for age-bias suit against Google

Source: Tom Krazit, CNET News
Date: August 9, 2010

A long-running age discrimination lawsuit filed against Google will head to trial following a ruling by the California Supreme Court Thursday.

Age-bias case vs. Google can move forward, state Supreme Court rules

Source: Mike Swift, MercuryNews.com
Date: August 6, 2010

In a ruling that could have broad ramifications for workers who sue employers for age bias, the California Supreme Court has cleared the way for a former Google executive who was fired to move forward with a lawsuit accusing the company of age discrimination.

Affirmative action ban not unconstitutional, California Supreme Court rules

Source: Maura Dolan, The LA Times
Date: August 3, 2010

The California Supreme Court ruled Monday that Proposition 209, the ballot measure that banned affirmative action by government, did not violate the federal Constitution.

Pro-union law struck down by appeals court

Source: Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: July 20, 2010

A state appeals court struck down a union-backed California law Monday that allows labor picketing on a store's parking lots and private sidewalks, saying it unconstitutionally requires property owners to host speakers with whom they disagree.

24 Hour Fitness sued for race, gender bias

Source: Eric Young, San Francisco Business Times
Date: July 14, 2010

The class action lawsuit claims San Ramon-based 24 Hour Fitness "has systematically subjected minority and female employees to discrimination regarding promotions to management positions and equal compensation," violating the state's Fair Employment and Housing Act and the California Business and Profession Code.

State Supreme Court to Hear Google Age-Bias Case

Source: Bay City News Service , Mountain View Voice
Date: June 1, 2010

An age discrimination case against Mountain View-based Google will be argued before the California Supreme Court at a hearing in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Suits Challenge Hooters on Wage-and-Hour Issues

Source: Malia Wollan, New York Times
Date: April 13, 2010

Ms. Partridge was shocked not by the randy customers, the short-shorts and the plunging necklines, but because she says she spent her own money for her uniforms, worked long shifts without breaks and did not get her share of tips.

Male Deputy Awarded $350K in Sexual Harassment Suit

Source: Contra Costa Times, Contra Costa Times
Date: April 8, 2010

A male sheriff's deputy was awarded $350,000 by a judge who found the lawman was sexually harassed by a male supervisor for several months in 2007, the plaintiff's attorney said.

Oregon Company Owes $24M to Girl Run Over by Dad

Source: Statesman Journal, Statesman Journal
Date: March 10, 2010

A Sacramento jury has found an Oregon company liable for $24.3 million in damages after an employee accidentally ran over his daughter with his big rig.

Appeals Court Overturns L.A. Fire Department Bias Case

Source: L.A. Times, Robert J. Lopez
Date: February 19, 2010

A state appellate court Thursday overturned a high-profile Los Angeles Fire Department harassment and discrimination case in which a black lesbian firefighter was awarded $6.2 million after she was allegedly forced out.

TV companies settle writers' age bias suits for $70M

Source: Judy Greenwald, Business Insurance
Date: January 26, 2010

Seventeen television networks and production studios and seven talent agencies have reached a $70 million settlement in 19 age discrimination cases brought by 165 television writers.

16-Year-Old Starbucks Barista Sues Over 'Sex Demands' at Work

Source: Vic Walter, Angela M. Hill, and Brian Ross, ABC
Date: January 22, 2010

An "alarmingly high" number of high school students are reporting sexual advances from their adult bosses and other supervisors at some of the country's best known fast food operations, according to an official of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

EEOC Sues American Laser Centers for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

Source: EEOC, EEOC
Date: January 5, 2010

American Laser Centers violated federal law by subjecting a class of women to a sexually hostile work environment in its Fresno, Calif., clinic and by retaliating against the manager of that clinic for complaining about it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced today.

Court rules employer did not violate workers' privacy

Source: Maura Dolan , Los Angeles Times
Date: August 4, 2009

The California Supreme Court left worker privacy rights intact but ruled against the plaintiffs because the camera installed by the Pasadena firm was turned on only when workers were not present.

Blue Shield Health Insurance Rescission Case to Go to Trial

Source: Lisa Girion , Los Angeles Times
Date: May 20, 2009

For the first time, an Orange County jury will weigh whether the insurer wrongfully rescinded a California man's coverage.

Wal-Mart Sued by EEOC for Harassment of Latinos at Fresno Sam's Club

Source: EEOC, EEOC
Date: May 11, 2009

Sam's Club, the wholesale chain store owned and operated by Wal-Mart, violated federal law by compelling Latino employees to endure a hostile work environment based upon their Mexican national origin, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

EEOC Sues Fresno Sam's Club on Behalf of Latinos

Source: Associated Press, Associated Press
Date: May 8, 2009

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims some Hispanic employees at a Fresno Sam's Club were subjected to a hostile work environment.

3M Accused Of Age Discrimination In Class-Action Suit

Source: Mike Barris, Wall Street Journal
Date: May 6, 2009

Former and current employees of 3M Co. (MMM) filed a class-action lawsuit accusing the diversified manufacturer of discriminating against employees who are older than 46 and claiming it either fires them, or forces them to resign or retire.

Firefighters sue San Diego, alleging harassment in gay pride parade

Source: Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times
Date: September 15, 2008

Four San Diego firefighters are suing the city government for damages because they were allegedly sexually harassed while participating involuntarily in the 2007 gay pride parade. The four say they were ordered to drive their firetruck in the three-hour parade even though firefighters at previous parades had been subjected to catcalls and sexually suggestive comments by parade watchers.

Former county social worker supervisor may get $117,500 in harassment settlement

Source: Bob Cuddy , San Luis Obispo
Date: September 8, 2008

A former county social work supervisor who claimed she was fired for testifying against her bosses in a high-profile sexual harassment case will receive $117,500 if [San Luis Obispo, CA] county supervisors sign off Tuesday on the settlement. Rebecca Carter, a 17-year Department of Social Services veteran was fired last year after her testimony directly contradicted her supervisor, Carol Maitzen, in a hearing that resulted from charges of sexual harassment against a different supervisor in the department. The settlement is the latest development in a sexual harassment imbroglio that began more than three years ago in the Department of Social Service's Atascadero office.

'English only' LPGA rule faces legal challenge

Source: Associated Press, New York Times
Date: September 5, 2008

A California legislator is examining how to legally challenge the LPGA's new policy of requiring players to be able to speak English. Senator Leland Yee -- a Chinese-born Democrat from San Francisco -- said Thursday he was upset about a policy that requires players to speak effective English starting in 2009.

Former Apple employee sues for violation of labor code

Source: Jim Dalrymple, Macworld.com
Date: August 5, 2008

David Walsh, a former Network Engineer that worked at Apple from 1995 to 2007, is suing the company for violating California labor laws. Filed in the United States District Court, Southern District of California, the complaint focuses on the fact that employees were required to work more than 40 hours a week or eight hours in a workday. Walsh's suit says that Apple then denies the employees proper compensation for that work.

Paper Is Penalized for Labor Violations

Source: Rebecca Cathcart, New York Times
Date: March 1, 2008

One of Los Angeles' largest Chinese-language newspapers was ordered by a federal judge here Friday to pay millions of dollars to 200 employees who were denied years of overtime pay and subjected to other labor law violations. The $5.19 million award, to the employees of The Chinese Daily News, included penalties for violating labor laws as well as 10 percent interest on the original award of $2.5 million, which was granted by a jury in 2007.

Former Covad GC's Derivative Suit Settles for $7 Million

Source: Zusha Elinson, The Recorder
Date: February 29, 2008

Covad Communications and its ex-general counsel have finally laid to rest a sordid, six-year saga of allegations of self-dealing directors, sexual harassment and retaliatory firing. Covad directors agreed to pay the company $7 million to settle a long-running derivative suit originally filed by former GC and co-founder Dhruv Khanna, the San Jose, Calif., telecom company detailed in its annual report.

Lawsuit has fashion mogul in spotlight

Source: Carla Hall, Los Angeles Times
Date: January 17, 2008

Dov Charney, founder and chief executive of casual fashion giant American Apparel, acknowledges that he has appeared in his underwear many times in front of male and female employees. And yes, on a few occasions during work meetings, he donned a skimpy garment that barely covered his genitals. But those events, he said, have to be understood in the context of the fashion industry. Charney may soon find out how his explanations play in court, when trial starts in a lawsuit brought by a former employee alleging sexual harassment and wrongful termination.

Court Overturns $1.5M Spanking Verdict

Source: Associated Press
Date: January 16, 2008

An appeals court overturned a $1.5 million verdict awarded to a woman who was spanked in front of co-workers in what her employer called a camaraderie-building exercise.

L.A. city attorney faces whistle-blower lawsuit

Source: Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
Date: February 6, 2007

A veteran city prosecutor has filed a whistle-blower lawsuit alleging that [a] Los Angeles City Atty. retaliated against her for complaining about the work of outside law firms hired by the city and whose partners and associates are major political supporters of [the attorney]. The [city prosecutor] alleges that her promotion was blocked and that she was transferred out of an assignment representing the Department of Water and Power after she made several complaints to supervisors about politically influential outside attorneys hired by [the attorney's] office.

Case of the tour-bus kickbacks

Source: Andrew Tolve, San Francisco Bay Guardian
Date: January 3, 2007

Bellhop Jon Palewicz had no proof of a price-fixing scheme, but three missives arriving within 24 hours of each other, all written in an almost identical fashion, was certainly suspicious. Palewicz approached the San Francisco law firm Furth, Lehmann, and Grant--the one that recently slapped Wal-Mart for $172 million on behalf of hourly workers in Alameda--and asked if filing a lawsuit would be wise. They said yes. And three years later, after months of colorful depositions and courtroom antics, it turned out they were right. The four bellhops and their class of nearly 1,000 concierges settled with the sightseeing companies Nov. 28, 2006, for a little more than $3 million.

California company, execs plead guilty to hiring illegal workers

Source: Elliot Spagat, Associated Press, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: December 14, 2006

A California company and two executives pleaded guilty in federal court to knowingly hiring illegal immigrants and agreed to pay a combined fine of $5 million, the government's latest coup in a crackdown on businesses. The penalty is one of the biggest fines ever imposed on an employer for immigration violations. If the judge follows the government's recommendation to sentence the company officials to at least six months in jail, the case could become an extremely rare example of executives being sent to prison for hiring illegal immigrants.

Council backs mayor's veto in race bias case

Source: Steve Hymon, Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times
Date: November 30, 2006

The career of Los Angeles Fire Chief William Bamattre dangled in the balance Wednesday as the City Council backed away from a settlement offered to a black firefighter who accused the department of racial discrimination. Firefighter Tennie Pierce sued the city after dog food was slipped into his firehouse meal two years ago by several firefighters. The council had overwhelmingly agreed to settle the case for $2.7 million, but a public outcry prompted [Mayor Antonio]Villaraigosa to veto the agreement. Although the council action does not preclude City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo from conducting further settlement talks, for now the case is headed to court March 19.

Restaurant must pay $1 million to workers

Source: Vanessa Hua, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: October 7, 2006

A Chinatown restaurant that was closed because of health violations in January, must pay more than $1 million in back wages and penalties to 37 workers for violating the city's minimum wage law, an administrative hearing officer has ruled. The restaurant's former owners were also ordered to pay as much as $871,300 to the city for the cost of investigating the case.

Laguna Beach is sued over day laborer center

Source: Jennifer Delson, Los Angeles Times
Date: October 5, 2006

A conservative advocacy group filed a lawsuit against Laguna Beach, alleging the city is violating federal law by helping undocumented workers find jobs. The lawsuit asks a judge to halt the city's funding of the center. Although the immigration law is federal, the lawsuit was filed in state court because it alleges that local tax dollars are being illegally spent. The litigation is just one of the ways anti-illegal immigrant activists are fighting day labor centers around Southern California. Illegal immigrants rely on such centers to find jobs that usually pay less than $10 an hour.

Appeals court restores law favorable to labor

Source: Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: September 22, 2006

An appeals court reinstated a labor-backed law that prohibits California employers from spending money they get from the state on anti-union activities. In a 12-3 ruling, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said the law does not violate employers' freedom of speech or interfere with federal regulation of labor-management relations. "Employers remain free to convey their views regarding unionization, and thus to exercise their First Amendment rights, provided only that they do not use state grant and program funds to do so,'' Judge Raymond Fisher said.

Prison guard allowed to sue over inmate harassment

Source: CBS
Date: September 14, 2006

A federal appeals court in San Francisco upheld the right of a female prison guard to sue the California Department of Corrections for allowing sexual harassment of female officers by male inmates. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling in a lawsuit filed against the state agency by Deanna Freitag, a former correctional officer at the maximum-security Pelican Bay State Prison. A lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco in 2000 [claimed that] prison officials created a hostile work environment by failing to stop harassment by the male inmates. She also charged she was unfairly retaliated against and ultimately lost her job after complaining about the incidents.

IBM age-bias lawsuit is reinstated

Source: Elise Ackerman, Mercury News
Date: September 1, 2006

A federal appeals ruled that older IBM workers who were laid off in a wave of corporate restructuring could sue Big Blue for age discrimination, despite having signed a company waiver promising not to sue. In a unanimous decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the waiver did not meet the standard of being "written in a manner calculated to be understood" by the average employee. "This will allow tens of thousands of employees potentially to sue the company for age discrimination," said an attorney who represented former employees from around the country. The case is the second of its kind to be overturned by a federal appeals court.

Legal secretary can sue Shapiro over her firing

Source: Greg Krikorian, Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times
Date: July 6, 2006

A legal secretary who was fired after she accused well-known Los Angeles attorney Robert Shapiro of overbilling clients can sue his law firm for wrongful termination, a state appeals court has ruled. In its 3-0 decision, a panel of the 2nd Appellate District concluded that Pauletta James was entitled to move forward with a claim that she was dismissed from the firm of Christensen, Miller, Fink, Jacobs, Glaser, Weil & Shapiro because she reported Shapiro's alleged misdeeds. The ruling overturned a lower court decision that James had not proved her firing violated rules protecting whistle-blowers.

Mediator can impose terms of labor pact

Source: Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times
Date: July 7, 2006

A state appeals court has upheld a law allowing a mediator to impose the terms of an initial labor contract if a grower and its employees can't reach an agreement--a ruling that could increase the clout of farm unions in California. Labor leaders said the ruling would force growers to end what they called a pattern of delaying tactics to avoid signing bargaining agreements. A 2002 state law grants workers who have voted to unionize the right to demand mediation if the union can't reach agreement on its first contract with a grower within 90 days. If after 30 days of mediation the two sides can't reach a bargaining agreement, the mediator can dictate the terms of any outstanding issues, essentially writing the contract.

Ralphs to plead guilty in lockout case

Source: Associated Press, Washington Post
Date: June 30, 2006

The Ralphs supermarket chain said it intends to plead guilty to charges that it illegally hired hundreds of workers under fake names during a 2003 grocery strike and lockout in Southern California. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ralphs owner Kroger Co. said the chain "expects to enter into an agreement that will include a plea of guilty to some of the charges" in a 53-count indictment by a federal grand jury in December. Ralphs said the expected agreement, if approved, would resolve the criminal charges against the chain and end its case at the National Labor Relations Board. Prosecutors have said that the company could pay as much as $200 million, including payment for back wages, if convicted of all counts, plus restitution to Ralphs workers and their union.

Wal-Mart workers seek pay for missed breaks

Source: Bloomberg News, Los Angeles Times
Date: June 27, 2006

Lawyers for Wal-Mart workers who won a $172-million verdict involving missed meal breaks in December asked a judge Monday to order the retailer to pay for missed rest breaks and urged the appointment of an independent monitor to ensure that it complied. One of every 10 Wal-Mart employees in California isn't being paid for missed breaks, violating a state law that requires they get an extra hour of wages. Wal-Mart knew as far back as 1998 that workers couldn't take breaks because of understaffing, so the company stopped requiring them to clock in and out of rest periods to conceal evidence. An order in favor of the workers might force Wal-Mart to keep records on rest breaks, reinstate audits and pay for monitoring, while providing ammunition for employees in other cases.

Workers' lawsuits can go forward

Source: Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times
Date: June 9, 2006

A nurse who was pestered for sex by an 84-year-old male patient may receive a $180,000 jury award from her former employer, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The state high court's unanimous decision also permits a former Los Angeles teacher to go back to trial on her claim that students had sexually harassed her. The court held that the state's sexual harassment law authorized workers to sue their employers for failing to stop harassment by customers, clients, patients, students and other non-employees, even before the law was changed in 2003 to explicitly permit such suits.

FedEx strategy backfires in punitive phase

Source: Matthew Hirsch, The Recorder, Law.com
Date: June 6, 2006

The $61 million judgment against FedEx awarded Friday capped off a catastrophe at trial for the shipping company. To fend off claims of discrimination and harassment against two drivers of Lebanese descent who claimed a manager subjected them to racist epithets, FedEx bet on joint legal representation. The company went into the trial with one firm representing it and company manager Stacy Shoun. This, observers say, tied the company's fate to whether the jury believed the defendants' claim. That backfired when the jury awarded $10 million in compensatory damages, twice as much as the plaintiffs had asked for. At this point, the company sidelined its lawyer and brought in new counsel to, in essence, plead for mercy. That didn't work either. The jury tacked on $50 million in punitive damages.

Oakland Fed Ex workers win bias lawsuit

Source: KCBS.com
Date: June 4, 2006

A jury has awarded $61 million to two FedEx drivers of Lebanese descent who claimed a manager continuously harassed them with racial slurs. Edgar Rizkallah and Kamil Issa said they were called "terrorists," "camel jockeys" and other epithets. The two drivers took their complaints through three levels of management, but in each case the company chose not to act. Witnesses testified that some managers threatened to fire the two for escalating their complaints. The $11 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages was awarded by a jurors that [the drivers' attorney] said were generally opposed to large damage awards.

Citigroup to pay brokers $98 million for overtime claims

Source: Jed Horowitz, Dow Jones Newswires, San Jose Mercury News
Date: May 23, 2006

Citigroup's Smith Barney brokerage unit has agreed to pay $98 million to settle claims on behalf of thousands of current and former brokers that they are owed overtime pay and other reimbursements. The proposed settlement is the latest and largest by securities firms that claim brokers are exempt from state and federal overtime laws because they are salaried, administrative employees. The securities industry swallowed hard in making the argument that brokers are salaried employees because it likes to portray them as trusted financial advisers, not mere administrators.

BB&T faces $50 million sexual harassment lawsuit

Source: Jonathan Stempel, Reuters
Date: May 22, 2006

A female insurance broker has filed a $50 million sexual harassment lawsuit against a unit of BB&T Corp., alleging a pattern of offensive conduct that left her unable to do her job. Constance Callan filed her complaint on Friday in the Los Angeles County Superior Court against CRC Insurance Services Inc., its chief executive Tom Curtin, and managing director Chris Houska. Callan accused Houska of "a pattern of sexually offensive and 'frat-like' behavior designed to insult, intimidate, demean, harass and humiliate" her. She said CRC retaliated for her complaints by suspending her and refusing to let her return to work, resulting in a "wrongful constructive discharge."

Wal-Mart managers can't sue as a class

Source: Bloomberg News, Los Angeles Times
Date: May 10, 2006

A federal judge has ruled that 2,750 current and former assistant managers for Wal-Mart in California can't sue as a group on claims that the retailer improperly denied them overtime pay and meal breaks. U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer in Los Angeles last week refused to grant the workers' request to proceed as a class-action lawsuit. The case, filed in 2004, claims that the managers performed non-managerial tasks and were improperly classified as exempt from overtime pay. Fischer said that each manager's claims would have to be examined separately and that the case failed to meet all requirements of a class action. The ruling is a victory for Wal-Mart, which faces 10 federal and 50 state cases claiming that workers were denied regular and overtime pay.

Judge OKs race suit against Universal

Source: Lorenza Munoz, Los Angeles Times
Date: April 28, 2006

A federal judge has ruled that Universal Pictures must go to trial in the first racial discrimination case brought by the government against a Hollywood studio. The suit, filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleges that a first assistant director on the studio's hit "2 Fast 2 Furious" was fired because he was African American. Anna Park, lead attorney for the Los Angeles office of the EEOC, said the judge's ruling would give the government a chance to look into the hiring and firing practices of Hollywood--an industry that has operated for too long, she said, with "flagrant disregard for the law." The EEOC seeks damages of as much as $8 million.

Spanked employee seeks $1.2 million

Source: Associated Press, CNN.com
Date: April 27, 2006

Lawyers for a woman spanked in front of co-workers as part of what her employer said was a team-building exercise asked a jury Wednesday for at least $1.2 million for the humiliation she says she suffered. Janet Orlando quit her job at the home security company Alarm One and sued, alleging discrimination, assault, battery and infliction of emotional distress. Employees were paddled with rival companies' yard signs as part of a contest that pitted sales teams against each other. The winners poked fun at the losers, throwing pies at them, feeding them baby food, making them wear diapers and swatting their buttocks. Lawyers for Alarm One said the spankings were part of a voluntary program to build camaraderie and were not discriminatory because they were given to both male and female workers.

Justices say obscene language not always workplace harassment

Source: David Kravets, Associated Press, San Jose Mercury News
Date: April 20, 2006

Sometimes vulgarity is not just acceptable but necessary in the workplace, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday as it threw out a sexual harassment case by a former assistant on the "Friends" TV show. The justices, ruling 7-0, agreed with Warner Bros. Television Productions that trash talk was part of the creative process and, therefore, the studio and its writers could not be sued for raunchy writers' meetings. The court said its decision should not encourage salty talk in the workplace, and added that the same dialogue and behavior might be illegal elsewhere.

LAPD suing former officers

Source: Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
Date: March 22, 2006

The city of Los Angeles is suing 53 former LAPD officers for $1.6 million, alleging that they broke their employment contracts by leaving within five years of graduating from the Police Academy. Thirty of the officers have hired an attorney to argue that federal and state labor laws prohibit the recovery of training costs. The LAPD has required recruits to sign five-year contracts since a 1996 investigation found that some were quitting as early as the day after graduation to work for other departments that did not pay for training. Police Academy training takes seven months and costs $60,000 per officer.

Jury awards $6.5M to panic disorder patient in job bias suit

Source: Associated Press, San Jose Mercury News
Date: March 16, 2006

A [California] health care case worker who claimed he was denied a promotion because a panic disorder prevented him from meeting clients won $6.5 million in an employment discrimination lawsuit. A jury awarded George Alberigi $1.5 million in lost wages and $5 million for pain and suffering and other damages. Alberigi was diagnosed in 1986 with panic disorder and agoraphobia, a fear of public places. He accused the county of bias in failing to accommodate his disability. For most of 14 years with the county's Human Services Department, Alberigi was allowed to interview clients by phone, but a promotion he applied for in 2001 required meeting clients in person. He was denied the promotion and eventually went on permanent medical disability.

Woman sues for alleged firing over talk show bumper sticker

Source: Teri Figueroa, North County Times
Date: March 8, 2006

A San Diego woman is suing her former employer, accusing her manager of firing her on the spot when she saw the woman's car had a bumper sticker advertising a progressive talk radio station. Linda Laroca is seeking lost wages and damages for wrongful termination for violations of both public policy and the state labor code. She is also claiming state constitutional violations and emotional distress. The California labor code prohibits employers from controlling or directing the political activities of employees. According to Laroca's suit, the bumper sticker in question read only: "1360 Air America Progressive Talk Radio."

Female police officer wins discrimination suit against city

Source: Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: February 25, 2006

An Oakland police officer who was denied a promotion to captain after becoming pregnant won $2 million in damages from a federal court jury Friday in her discrimination suit against the city. The four-man, three-woman jury in San Francisco found unanimously that the Oakland Police Department had refused to promote Janeith Glenn-Davis because of her sex and pregnancy. She was awarded $150,000 for lost earnings and $1.85 million for emotional distress and damage to her reputation and career. The city was surprised by the verdict and will ask U.S. District Judge Susan Illston to overturn it.

Justices weigh free speech, vulgarity in 'Friends' lawsuit

Source: David Kravets, Associated Press, San Diego Union-Tribune
Date: February 14, 2006

California's top court heard arguments Tuesday in the case of a former assistant on the hit show "Friends" who claims she was subjected to sexual harassment in writing meetings. Citing free-speech rights, lawyers for the show's producers, Warner Bros., insisted that trash talk during writers' meetings was part of the creative process and, therefore, the studio and its writers not culpable. "The writers needed to, as part of their jobs, take on taboo subject matter," [a] Warner Bros. attorney told the justices. "The writers needed to have the freedom and breathing room to explore sexual topics," he explained. "That's what the show dealt with."

Ralphs pleads not guilty to hiring violations

Source: Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times
Date: January 31, 2006

Ralphs Grocery Co. pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that store managers violated federal laws by secretly rehiring nearly 1,000 locked-out workers during the bitter Southern California supermarket labor dispute of 2003-04. According to a December grand jury indictment, Ralphs used fake names and Social Security numbers and falsified thousands of employee records sent to various government agencies to conceal the rehiring of experienced workers. Ralphs' corporate parent, Kroger Co., earlier admitted that some store managers had falsified records to rehire locked-out workers but has denied that the actions were sanctioned by the company.

Judge orders EEOC to pay $1 million to Pasadena law firm

Source: Associated Press, San Jose Mercury News
Date: January 25, 2006

The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission must pay more than $1 million to a law firm that it sued unsuccessfully last year for sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination. U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian found that the EEOC filed a "frivolous" lawsuit against Robert L. Reeves & Associates, which practices immigration law. The EEOC originally filed suit in 2001. Tevrizian dismissed the case the following year and ordered the commission to pay Reeves $363,000 in legal fees. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision, however, and returned the case to Tevrizian's court. In first dismissing the case, Tevrizian accused the commission of "unreasonable and just plain mean-spirited" conduct.

IBM accused of not paying millions in overtime

Source: David Kravets, Associated Press, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: January 24, 2006

IBM was sued in federal court Tuesday for allegedly not paying overtime to tens of thousands of rank-and-file employees. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of three current and former workers, and seeks class-action status to represent computer installers and maintenance workers for IBM throughout the United States. Lawyers said they are seeking millions of dollars in back pay for employees of the world's biggest technology services provider. They are also considering punitive damages. Experts speculated that the practice of not paying overtime to workers who deserve it was widespread in the technology industry.

Calif. jury backs Wal-Mart workers

Source: Amy Joyce, Washington Post
Date: December 23, 2005

A California jury awarded $172 million to thousands of Wal-Mart workers who claimed that they were illegally denied lunch breaks. The company was ordered to pay $57 million in general damages and $115 million in punitive damages to about 116,000 current and former workers. Wal-Mart said that it would appeal the verdict. The suit is one of about 40 cases nationwide alleging workplace violations against Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer. Wal-Mart has a reputation as a tough legal opponent. Where other companies may settle a case to minimize court costs, Wal-Mart typically fights the cases. "This really is a wake up call to Wal-Mart that these class action suits in front of a jury can be costly," [a labor expert] said.

Wal-Mart workers win suit

Source: Molly Selvin, Abigail Goldman, Los Angeles Times
Date: December 23, 2005

A jury awarded $172 million to 116,000 current and former employees of Wal-Mart in the first of dozens of wage and hour class-action lawsuits targeting the retailer to go to trial. The world's largest retailer was ordered to pay $57 million in general damages and $115 million in punitive damages to employees for violating a state law that requires employers to provide 30-minute unpaid lunch breaks to employees who work at least six hours in a shift. Many legal experts said that with similar litigation pending in about 40 other states, the verdict was certain to have a ripple effect far beyond California. The company's critics were quick to say the case points to broader problems with how Wal-Mart treats its employees.

Ralphs indicted in hiring dispute

Source: James F. Peltz, Los Angeles Times
Date: December 16, 2005

A federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted the Ralphs grocery chain Thursday, alleging that store managers violated federal laws by secretly rehiring nearly 1,000 locked-out workers during the bitter Southern California supermarket labor dispute two years ago. Ralphs used fake names and Social Security numbers and falsified thousands of employee records sent to various government agencies to conceal the rehiring effort, the 53-count indictment alleged. If convicted on all counts, Ralphs and Kroger could face fines totaling more than $100 million, as well as back pay and restitution for Ralphs workers and their union, prosecutors said.

Best Buy workers file bias lawsuit

Source: Molly Selvin, Los Angeles Times
Date: December 9, 2005

Citing what they called a "corporate culture of discrimination," six current and former employees sued Best Buy Thursday, claiming the retailer violated civil rights laws by discriminating against female and minority workers. The Best Buy case is similar to a class-action [suit] against Wal-Mart by current and former female employees who allege discrimination in pay and promotion. Discrimination suits against mega-retailers reflect, in part, the lack of union grievance procedures that would have provided another channel for employee discontent, said a labor [expert]. "Now that discontent translates into court cases, and once you have an example like the Wal-Mart case, employees in other firms may say, 'Wait a minute, that happened to me too.'"

Best Buy accused of bias

Source: Jason B. Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: December 9, 2005

Six current and former employees of Best Buy filed a race- and sex-discrimination lawsuit Thursday against the consumer electronics chain in federal court in San Francisco, accusing it of denying better-paying sales and managerial jobs to African Americans, Latinos and women in favor of white men. The lawsuit seeks class-action status and accuses Best Buy of putting black and Latino employees in lower-paying stockroom, cashier and minor sales positions. It claims Best Buy has a disproportionately white sales and management force, with white men making up more than 80% of the chain's managers. Fewer than 10% are women, African American or Latino.

Court backs immigrants' labor rights

Source: Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times
Date: October 19, 2005

Illegal immigrants hurt on the job are entitled to workers' compensation benefits, a state appeals court panel has ruled, upholding California's policy of granting workplace rights to undocumented employees. Torrance coffee roaster Farmer Bros. Co. had sought to deny workers' comp benefits to an injured employee who was in the country illegally. The company argued that federal immigration laws superseded the state's system for treating victims of workplace injuries. But the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles, in a ruling published late Monday, said federal immigration statutes didn't preempt state laws governing workers' comp insurance, minimum wage guarantees and occupational health and safety protections. "California law has expressly declared immigration status irrelevant to the issue of liability to pay compensation to an injured worker," the court ruled, upholding an earlier decision by the state Workers' Compensation Appeals Board against Farmer Bros.

EA to pay $15.6 million to settle overtime case

Source: Julie Tamaki, Los Angeles Times
Date: October 6, 2005

Video game publisher Electronic Arts said Wednesday that it would pay $15.6 million to settle claims that it required graphic artists to work long hours and weekends without overtime pay, resolving the first of several cases highlighting working conditions in the fast-growing industry. The world's largest independent game publisher also agreed to reclassify about 200 entry-level artists as eligible for overtime. In May, the company reclassified about 240 jobs spread over its corporate, studio and marketing divisions as eligible for overtime. Lawyers representing the plaintiffs said that EA's practices were not unique.

FedEx minority workers get OK for class action

Source: Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: September 29, 2005

Thousands of African American and Latino employees can sue FedEx over claims of discrimination in pay, promotions, evaluations and discipline. [A] U.S. District Judge granted class-action status to employees who sued over personnel practices in FedEx's Western region, which covers California, nine other states and parts of four more states. The suit alleges that FedEx relegates minorities to the lowest-paying jobs with the least job security and denies them promotions through discriminatory tests, subjective evaluation standards and a culture of hostility. African Americans and Latinos make up 56% of the workers who load and unload freight, 29% of operations managers, and 23% of senior managers, plaintiffs' lawyers said.

Wal-Mart denied meal breaks, jury told

Source: Associated Press, Los Angeles Times
Date: September 20, 2005

Lawyers representing about 116,000 former and current Wal-Mart employees in California told a jury Monday that the world's largest retailer systematically and illegally denied workers lunch breaks. The suit is among about 40 cases nationwide alleging workplace violations by Wal-Mart, and the first to go to trial. The case concerns a 2001 state law, which is among the nation's most worker friendly. Employees who work at least six hours must have a 30-minute, unpaid lunch break. If they do not get that, the law requires that they be paid for an additional hour. The lawsuit covers former and current employees in California from 2001 to 2005.

Wal-Mart faces sweatshop allegations

Source: Reuters, CNN/Money
Date: September 14, 2005

Workers in six countries filed a class-action lawsuit claiming that [Wal-Mart] overlooks sweatshop conditions at toy and clothing factories from China to Nicaragua. The lawsuit lists as plaintiffs workers in Bangladesh, Swaziland, Indonesia, China and Nicaragua. They claim they were paid below minimum wage, forced to work unpaid overtime and in some cases even endured beatings by supervisors. The suit could cover anywhere from 100,000 to 500,000 workers. Wal-Mart became the world's largest retailer by buying cheap, foreign-made goods and selling them to consumers at rock-bottom prices. The retailer has been hit with dozens of lawsuits claiming violations of wage-and-hour laws.

Suit says Wal-Mart is lax on labor abuses overseas

Source: Steven Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: September 14, 2005

A labor rights group filed a class-action lawsuit yesterday against Wal-Mart in which apparel workers in Bangladesh, China and other countries assert that Wal-Mart violated its contractual obligations by not enforcing its code of conduct for overseas contractors. The lawsuit, filed in state court in Los Angeles, makes the novel argument that Wal-Mart's code of conduct created contractual obligations between it and thousands of workers employed by contractors who were supposed to comply with the code. In the lawsuit brought by the International Labor Rights Fund, workers from Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Nicaragua and Swaziland assert that the codes of conduct were violated in dozens of ways.

Wal-Mart accused of denying workers' rights

Source: Michael Barbaro, Washington Post
Date: September 13, 2005

An American labor rights group filed a class action lawsuit today against Wal-Mart, alleging that suppliers in five foreign countries denied workers a minimum wage, overtime pay and the right to unionize. According to the suit, Wal-Mart has failed to enforce its corporate code of conduct in China, Bangladesh, Swaziland, Nicaragua and Indonesia while misleading U.S. consumers by touting its human rights record. The International Labor Rights Fund brought the lawsuit on behalf of 15 foreign workers, who contend they were subjected to illegal working conditions, and four California business owners, who argue Wal-Mart's alleged conduct amounted to unfair business practices.

Allstate to settle overtime claims

Source: Lisa Girion, Los Angeles Times
Date: September 2, 2005

Allstate said Thursday that it would pay as much as $120 million to settle claims that some of its white-collar employees in California were routinely required to work long hours without overtime pay. The case is the latest in a series of class-action lawsuits putting pressure on California employers to revamp their white-collar pay policies. Previous settlements by RadioShack, Bank of America, Starbucks and Rite Aid highlighted the practice of classifying workers as managers or administrators to avoid paying overtime. The Allstate case is part of a wave of class-action litigation by white-collar workers claiming overtime exploitation in industries such as retail, restaurants and banking.

Reality a sweatshop, TV writers allege

Source: Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times
Date: August 25, 2005

On his first day as a story assistant for the reality TV series "Renovate My Family," Zachary Isenberg said, his bosses made an unusual request: fill out your time card for the next three weeks of work. Thus allegedly began a 2 1/2-month ordeal--marked by interminable workdays spent in overheated, cramped offices--that is part of the basis for a lawsuit filed by Isenberg and nine other writers and editors on seven reality TV shows. The suit, which seeks class-action status, alleges that Fox Broadcasting Co. and Rocket Science Laboratories repeatedly violated California labor laws by denying employees overtime pay and meal breaks and requiring them to submit false time cards. The plaintiffs are seeking back pay and unspecified damages.

Fired UPS worker is awarded $21 million

Source: Kathy M. Kristof, Los Angeles Times
Date: August 20, 2005

A jury has awarded nearly $21 million to a former United Parcel Service manager who was fired for allegedly falsifying a worker's time sheet by deducting one minute from his shift. In his wrongful-termination suit, Michael Gnesda claimed that the alleged doctoring of documents was a red herring. He said the real reason he was fired was because he had complained to higher-ups about excessive surcharges on customers shipping odd-sized packages. "The true motivation was a desire to retaliate against Mr. Gnesda," his attorney, David Wiechert, said. After a three-week trial, a Los Angeles County Superior Court jury awarded Gnesda $748,000 in compensatory damages and $20 million in punitive damages. UPS is weighing an appeal.

Court widens protections for workers sensing bias

Source: Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times
Date: August 12, 2005

The California Supreme Court on Thursday gave broad protections to workers who oppose orders that could be discriminatory, giving employees rights that legal experts said appear to go beyond those in any other state. The ruling came in the case of a supervisor who resisted her boss's order to fire a woman who was not "good-looking enough" and to replace her with someone "hot." The ruling significantly expands protections for workers who refuse to follow orders they reasonably believe violate the state's anti-discrimination laws. Workers will be protected from retaliation even if they do not explicitly complain about the alleged discrimination and even if the order was not in fact unlawful.

Merrill settles brokers' suit for overtime in California

Source: Patrick McGeehan, New York Times
Date: August 10, 2005

Merrill Lynch agreed last week to pay $37 million to settle a claim that it had been shortchanging people for years. But the plaintiffs were not the firm's customers. They were its own stockbrokers. Merrill has treated its brokers, who earn the bulk of their income from sales commissions, as if they were exempt from state and federal laws on overtime pay. But a suit filed last year on behalf of the firm's brokers in California argued that the brokers should be paid overtime when they work more than 8 hours in a day or 40 in a week.

Love the job? What about your boss?

Source: Mireya Navarro, New York Times
Date: July 24, 2005

In a ruling that significantly expands the law on sexual harassment in the workplace, California's Supreme Court ruled that workers can sue when a colleague who is sleeping with the boss is shown repeated preferential treatment. Unions and lawyers who represent workers rejoiced, claiming a victory for a group some of them call "the unloved." But those charged with managing workers in California were reaching for the Tums. Not only will management have to worry about who is sleeping with whom, but about who among them gets a bigger office, a better assignment, a promotion. And who might be stewing in resentment over it.

Prison doctor awarded $20 million in age case

Source: Jean Guccione, Los Angeles Times
Date: July 20, 2005

A Los Angeles jury has awarded $20 million to an 85-year-old man who said he was forced to retire as chief physician and surgeon at Lancaster state prison because of his age. The award included $1.6 million in past and future lost earnings, an indication that jurors believed a plaintiff's expert who testified at trial that Dr. Robert Johnson could have worked until he was 96. Most of the money awarded to Johnson was for emotional distress. The jury found Monday that Johnson's supervisors had subjected him to age discrimination, retaliation and harassment.

Court rules on sexual office affairs

Source: Associated Press, CNN
Date: July 19, 2005

A manager who has affairs with subordinates can create a work climate that constitutes sexual harassment even for uninvolved employees, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday. Phil Horowitz, of the California Employment Lawyers Association, called the decision "groundbreaking." "It's the first major decision saying women can sue if they are treated worse because they're not the paramour of the supervisor," [he] said. A spokesman for the Attorney General's office said the decision is a warning to business owners. "It tells employers that having an anti-nepotism policy is not enough. You need to do more to make sure that you have a hostility-free work environment even when employees are having consensual sexual relationships."

Reality TV workers sue producers and networks

Source: Sharon Waxman, New York Times
Date: July 11, 2005

A lawsuit filed last week against producers and broadcasters of reality television shows accused those companies of planning to falsify payroll records of employees to avoid paying wages for overtime. The lawsuit seeks class-action status and is part of a broader effort by the Writers Guild of America, West, to organize nearly 1,000 workers who edit and produce the reality programs. The union says the workers toil lengthy schedules for dismal wages with no health or pension benefits, unlike counterparts on scripted television shows. The lawsuit charges breach of California overtime law, failure to provide itemized wage statements, nonpayment of wages, denial of meal periods and record-keeping violations.

Reality show writers claim exploitation

Source: Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times
Date: July 8, 2005

Stepping up its organizing campaign against reality TV producers, the union representing Hollywood writers Thursday unveiled a lawsuit filed by a dozen scribes who alleged that they were denied overtime and meal breaks and ordered to falsify time cards. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeks class-action status. It is the latest effort by the Writers Guild of America, West, to keep up the pressure on production companies and networks involved in the burgeoning reality TV arena.

Court to hear Wal-Mart's discrimination case in August

Source: Associated Press, San Jose Mercury News
Date: June 20, 2005

A federal appeals court said Monday that it would hear an appeal Aug. 8 by Wal-Mart of a San Francisco judge's order approving class-action status for a sex-discrimination lawsuit representing as many as 1.6 million current and former women employees. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not comment on the merits of the appeal. If the appeals court does not overturn last year's ruling by U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins, the case will become the nation's largest civil rights lawsuit targeting one company.

Farm workers, SoCal vineyard reach $1 million settlement

Source: Laura Wides, Associated Press, SFGate.com
Date: June 15, 2005

Grape growers agreed to pay more than $1 million to female farm workers who claimed they were groped, urged to trade sexual favors for better conditions and fired when they complained. The settlement, if approved by a judge, would end a suit brought in 2003 by the EEOC on behalf of several dozen women against Rivera Vineyards. The original complaint alleged that as far back as 1989, Rivera employees engaged in sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation against the women, all of whom are Hispanics who spoke little English. The settlement sends a signal to the agricultural industry that it must respect the civil rights of all employees, even illegal immigrants who frequently work throughout fields in California.

Top court to hear L'Oreal dispute

Source: Nicole C. Wong, San Jose Mercury News
Date: May 25, 2005

The [California] Supreme Court is expected to consider a case in which a sales manager alleges that she faced retaliation after refusing to fire a female associate in who her boss said was not attractive enough. At the heart of the issue, legal experts say, is what constitutes retaliation. The court's opinion could be especially important in light of a growing number of retaliation cases over the past decade. Nationwide, claims of retaliation for opposing discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability or wages have doubled in the past 13 years, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Retaliation accounted for almost three of every 10 EEOC charges in 2004.

Lawsuit claims Smith Barney discriminates

Source: Justin M. Norton, Associated Press, FindLaw
Date: March 31, 2005

Four female financial consultants sued Citigroup Inc.'s Smith Barney division on Thursday, accusing the brokerage firm of systematically denying equal opportunities to its women employees. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, seeks class action status and asks for an end to gender discrimination at the firm, back pay and related damages. Attorney Kelly Dermody said the "potential damages are significant" because up to 5,000 women could qualify for the class action. The lawsuit puts the spotlight back on a firm that has tried to rebuild its image after settling a damaging gender-discrimination case several years ago. That lawsuit was followed by a string of highly publicized cases against Wall Street firms, alleging long-standing discrimination against female employees.

Lab settles lawsuit over racial bias

Source: Betsy Mason, Contra Costa Times
Date: March 15, 2005

The University of California has reached a tentative settlement with hundreds of Asian-American scientists and engineers who filed a class-action suit alleging discrimination in pay and promotion at UC-run Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. UC has agreed to pay nearly $1.2 million to settle the suit filed in 2001 that includes 460 lab workers. The settlement does not require the lab or UC to admit to any discrimination or wrongdoing. The settlement would mark the end of a long battle over racial bias at the lab that came to a boil in 1999 during a security crackdown at the national labs after Los Alamos lab employee Wen Ho Lee was fired and accused of spying for China.

Wal-Mart vs. class actions

Source: Aaron Bernstein, BusinessWeek
Date: March 11, 2005

Corporate America could find it a whole lot easier to fight off employment class actions if Wal-Mart prevails in a sex discrimination case to be heard soon by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Indeed, a Wal-Mart victory could tilt the playing field for virtually all of these kinds of suits. Wal-Mart's ambitious legal strategy strikes at the heart of what it means to file a class action. The company maintains that its constitutional rights would be violated if the court allows a suit to go forward involving up to 1.5 million of the retailing giant's current and former female employees. Because such a case would deprive the company of its rights to defend itself against each woman's claim, it argues, the courts should allow suits only on a store-by-store basis. The question is whether Wal-Mart's suggested store-by-store alternative makes sense.

Employee must get background check records in 'reasonable time'

Source: Linda Coady, FindLaw
Date: March 1, 2005

An employer investigating suspected misconduct by an employee must provide the employee with copies of any public records it uncovers "within a reasonable time" rather than within a fixed period, a California appellate court has ruled on an issue of first impression under the state's Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act. Plaintiff Gene Moran was hired April 3, 2003, as a paralegal at Murtaugh, Miller, Meyer & Nelson. On the same day, an associate at the firm did a computer search that revealed that Moran had several felony convictions. Murtaugh Miller asked Moran to resign April 9, 2003, after he admitted his prior felony convictions. Moran eventually filed suit against Murtaugh Miller alleging employment discrimination in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act, violation of the Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

High Court to address whistleblower suit

Source: Associated Press, FindLaw
Date: February 28, 2005

The Supreme Court agreed to consider whether a whistleblower prosecutor may sue his former employers for retaliation after he reported possible wrongdoing by the sheriff's office. Justices will review a lower court ruling in favor of Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Richard Ceballos, who said he was demoted and denied a promotion for trying to expose a lie by a county sheriff's deputy in a search warrant affidavit. At issue is the scope of the First Amendment, which protects government workers from discharge if their conduct involves a "public concern" rather than personal, job-related issues such as salary. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Ceballos' speech was constitutionally protected and the district attorney's office didn't have immunity from Ceballos' lawsuit.

Farmworker's case draws mixed reaction

Source: George B. Sanchez, Monterey Herald
Date: January 28, 2005

A week after a Fresno jury sided with a field worker who said she had been raped and sexually harassed by her supervisor, local lawyers and workers' advocates are weighing in on the potential impacts industrywide. After six weeks of testimony, a civil jury found Harris Farms liable for the sexual harassment of and workforce retaliation against Olivia Tamayo, a Mexican field worker who has worked for the Coalinga-based company since 1985. Attorneys and field worker advocates say it will send a strong message to employers but some people in agribusiness worry it could lead to unfair targeting by the government agency.

Harassment suit targets casino

Source: Dorothy Korber, Stephen Magagnini, Sacramento Bee
Date: January 27, 2005

In a court challenge that pits individual workers' rights against an Indian tribe's sovereignty, seven former employees of Thunder Valley Casino have filed a civil suit alleging sexual harassment, age and sex discrimination and wrongful termination. Attorneys for both sides say the case, filed in Sacramento Superior Court, could hinge on the tribe's contention that its status as a sovereign nation exempts it from most state and federal anti-discrimination laws. The seven plaintiffs--all women--worked in a variety of jobs at the casino. Their class-action suit covers a broad range of employment issues, but the most provocative allegations deal with sexual harassment.

State Farm Insurance settles overtime suit

Source: Lisa Girion, Los Angeles Times
Date: January 11, 2005

State Farm Insurance agreed to pay $135 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that it failed to pay overtime to 2,600 claims adjusters in California. The settlement is the latest multimillion-dollar payout in a wave of white-collar overtime lawsuits in California, where the laws governing this area are stricter than in other states. The number of white-collar lawsuits centering on overtime pay has jumped in the state after a 2001 jury verdict against Los Angeles-based Farmers Insurance. RadioShack, Bank of America, Starbucks and Rite Aid are a few of the national companies that have agreed to big payouts in California to avoid squaring off at trial against thousands of managers, assistant managers or tellers.

3 chains agree in suit over janitors' wages and hours

Source: Steven Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: December 7, 2004

Three of the largest supermarket chains in California have reached a tentative $22.4 million settlement in a class-action suit by immigrant janitors who said they often earned $3.50 an hour and were never paid overtime, the two sides said yesterday. The chains--Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons--tentatively settled the suit by 2,100 janitors, mostly from Mexico. The janitors' advocates said the suit was important to help check a trend in which thousands of employers relied on contractors who often broke the law, while the major companies insisted that they knew nothing of the violations.

Abercrombie to alter its marketing to settle bias suit

Source: Steven Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: November 17, 2004

Abercrombie & Fitch, one of the nation's trendiest retailers, has agreed to alter its well-known collegiate, all-American--and largely white--image by adding more blacks, Hispanics and Asians to its marketing materials as part of a settlement of a nationwide race and sex discrimination lawsuit. After a federal judge in San Francisco approved the settlement, the two sides announced an agreement that calls for Abercrombie to pay $40 million to several thousand minority plaintiffs and female plaintiffs. In an unusual step, the settlement calls for Abercrombie to increase diversity not just in hiring and promotions, but also in its advertisements and catalogs.

Abercrombie settles suit that alleged racial bias

Source: Associated Press, Chicago Tribune
Date: November 17, 2004

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. has agreed to pay $40 million to black, Hispanic and Asian employees and job applicants to settle a class-action federal discrimination lawsuit that accused the clothing retailer of promoting whites at the expense of minorities, lawyers said Tuesday. The settlement, approved Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston, requires the company to adhere to a consent decree that calls for the implementation of new policies and programs to promote diversity and prevent discrimination in its workforce. It also must pay about $10 million to monitor compliance and cover attorneys' fees.

Abercrombie settles 3 bias suits

Source: Jenny Strasburg, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: November 16, 2004

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. must pay $40 million in restitution to thousands of female and minority job applicants and employees, work harder to recruit and promote members from those groups and more effectively train its store managers in anti-discrimination practices, according to the retailer's preliminary settlement covering three employment-bias lawsuits. The company, in consenting to the terms of a preliminary settlement, agreed to a six-year, court-supervised process by which it must frequently report on its efforts to project a diverse image in its retail workforce as well as through its advertising materials.

'Friends' lawsuit will test clash of harassment law, free speech

Source: Maura Dolan, Contra Costa Times
Date: November 15, 2004

Amaani Lyle was thrilled. She had worked in television before, but never for a blockbuster such as "Friends." Her excitement soon gave way to feelings of degradation when the writers' conversation grew raunchy. After being told that she was fired for typing too slowly, Lyle filed a sexual harassment lawsuit. The case, which is before the California Supreme Court, represents a collision of sexual harassment law and the First Amendment's protection of free speech. The court's ruling may determine whether laws designed to protect workers from sexual, racial and other kinds of discrimination in the workplace should be limited when the offensive conduct occurs during a creative process.

Injured employees challenge provision of revised state workers' compensation law

Source: Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times
Date: November 11, 2004

Lawyers representing injured workers filed the first legal challenge to the recent overhaul of the state workers' compensation system on Wednesday, contending that new rules could force injured employees to change doctors in the middle of treatment. Currently, an injured worker is allowed to choose any doctor after the first month of treatment. After Jan. 1, a worker will have to pick from a pool of doctors who belong to tightly controlled physician networks organized by companies or insurers. The suit maintains that the new rule should be applied only to people hurt on the job after Jan. 1.

New laws on workers' comp face lawsuit

Source: Deborah Lohse, San Jose Mercury News
Date: November 11, 2004

Two injured workers and a group of lawyers filed the first of an expected series of lawsuits challenging California's new workers' compensation insurance laws. The suit argues that the director of the state's Division of Workers' Compensation was wrong to rule that workers injured in past years can be forced to pick a new doctor from a network, instead of using a doctor they chose in the past. Neither of the injured workers named in the lawsuit has been ordered to switch doctors. But their lawyers want to prevent that, arguing that labor laws and California's constitution protect currently injured workers' rights to stick with their chosen doctor.

Abercrombie to pay $50 million in bias suits

Source: Jenny Strasburg, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: November 10, 2004

Teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch said Tuesday it will pay $50 million to settle charges that it discriminates against women and minorities in hiring. The settlement would resolve two federal class-action discrimination lawsuits filed last year in San Francisco and Camden, N.J., and a third suit filed Monday by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The private lawsuits accuse the retailer, based in Ohio, of overlooking Latino, Asian and other minority recruits in favor of white job candidates. Plaintiffs' attorneys claimed that Abercrombie's minority hires were disproportionately assigned to behind-the-scenes positions, while white employees were placed in conspicuous jobs where the company believed they projected a look more in keeping with its classic, clean-cut image.

Workplace harassment law isn't retroactive, court says

Source: Claire Cooper, Sacramento Bee
Date: November 5, 2004

A 2001 law that permits co-workers to sue each other for sexual and other types of harassment in the workplace can't be applied to conduct that occurred before the law went into effect, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

High Court won't hear vacation time case

Source: Hope Yen, Newsday
Date: October 12, 2004

The Supreme Court declined to step into a dispute Tuesday over whether a restaurant chain must pay its employees for unused vacation time if they quit or are fired within a year. The court, without comment, rejected the attempt by Denny's Inc. to stop a lawsuit in California state court over its vacation plan, which says hourly employees can't be compensated for accrued vacation days until completing one year of service. California law guarantees payment of vested vacation when workers leave their jobs, and officials are seeking unpaid vacation wages for the employees. Denny's countered its plan is governed by the more lax federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which allows the practice.

$1.8 million award at bias trial

Source: Ellen Lee, Contra Costa Times
Date: October 13, 2004

An Alameda County [California] jury last week awarded more than $1.8 million to a Filipina employee who sued Sybase Inc. for racial discrimination. The jury award includes $1.3 million in lost wages and emotional distress as well as $500,000 in punitive damages. The $1.8 million verdict is unusually high for a racial discrimination case brought by a single plaintiff, said Jeffrey Tanebaum, a San Francisco lawyer who advises corporations on employment matters. "That's the sign of an angry jury," commented Lynn Bersch, also a San Francisco employment lawyer.

So two persons go into a bar

Source: Jonathan Turley, Los Angeles Times
Date: October 6, 2004

Amaani Lyle is suing the makers of "Friends" for the "hostile work environment" created by its writers. The case, now before the California Supreme Court, could have a sweeping effect on television writing and other settings where potentially offensive topics and language are the rule. The lawsuit does not challenge the use of sexual, racial or bawdy comments; instead, it seems to require that scripts be created through a type of Immaculate Conception. Yet there may be jobs in which workers should anticipate (and have to tolerate) potentially offensive speech. The case should prompt California courts to adopt a more practical understanding of what constitutes a hostile workplace, as long as the "hostility" isn't directed toward an individual.

Bias suit delayed against Wal-Mart

Source: Bloomberg News, New York Times
Date: September 28, 2004

A federal district judge in San Francisco halted a discrimination lawsuit yesterday against Wal-Mart Stores until an appeals court reviews a ruling that allows 1.6 million female workers to sue as a group. The company is appealing a ruling that allows the suit to be declared a class action, which is more efficient for the plaintiffs and provides leverage for a settlement. The ruling will delay the case for six to nine months, lawyers for the workers said.

Court paves way for writers' class action

Source: Scott Collins, Los Angeles Times
Date: September 15, 2004

Hundreds of television writers pursuing age-discrimination claims against networks, studios and talent agencies won a major victory Tuesday when a California appeals court paved the way for their suit to proceed with class-action status. A lawyer for the plaintiffs estimated the ruling could affect more than 6,000 unemployed or underemployed Hollywood writers over the age of 40.

Court says ex-I.R.S. employee deserves whistle-blower status

Source: David Cay Johnston, Associated Press, New York Times
Date: September 2, 2004

A former Internal Revenue Service executive won a rare victory in court yesterday in a whistle-blower case in which he raised allegations of the existence of official favoritism to rich and politically connected California families and businesses that owe back taxes. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Peter W. Coons was improperly denied protection under the 1994 Whistleblower Protection Act. Mr. Coons told his 400 revenue officers to treat all delinquent taxpayers equally, regardless of their social prominence or political connections.

The discount 'glass ceiling'

Source: Lauren Weber, Newsday
Date: August 23, 2004

When Cathy Lorenz applied for a promotion at the Wal-Mart in Syracuse, where she'd been working nights unloading trucks, she assumed she had a better-than-average shot at becoming the next assistant manager in the store's pet department. So she was surprised when the higher-paying position went to a male colleague who had less education and no managerial experience. As frustrating as Lorenz's experience in May 2001 was, it was not unique, according to a lawsuit filed by others the next month in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. The suit is proceeding on behalf of 1.6 million current and former female Wal- Mart employees--a full 2.5 percent of U.S. female workers.

Costco is accused of sex bias

Source: Steven Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: August 18, 2004

An employee at the Costco Wholesale Corporation filed a national class-action lawsuit against the company yesterday, accusing it of discriminating against women in promotions to store manager. In filing the case in Federal District Court in San Francisco, lawyers for the woman, Shirley Ellis, said that Costco, the big warehouse-club chain, engaged in systematic sex discrimination because 17 percent of its top managers are women, while nearly 50 percent of its employees are women. The lawsuit clashes with Costco's reputation as one of the most worker-friendly retailers in the nation, one that pays higher wages and offers better benefits than most other American retailers.

Costco is the latest class-action target

Source: Brooke A. Masters, Amy Joyce, Washington Post
Date: August 18, 2004

A wave of high-profile, class-action lawsuits and settlements this summer has raised allegations of race and sex discrimination in pay and promotion at some of the nation's best-known corporations, a list that expanded yesterday to include retailer Costco Wholesale Corp. The prominent cases are rooted, in part, in 1991 civil rights legislation that allowed victims of employment discrimination to seek punitive and compensatory damages, according to academics and lawyers who represent both employers and employees. The change makes such lawsuits potentially more lucrative for law firms, which have begun building the expertise to pursue them.

Female workers file suit against Costco

Source: Jenny Strasburg, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: August 18, 2004

Costco Wholesale Corp. was accused of bias against female employees in a federal civil rights lawsuit Tuesday. The suit, brought by a Colorado assistant store manager, charges that the retailer bypassed qualified women for promotions based on their gender. It seeks unspecified damages and a requirement that Costco post open management positions. Attorneys for the plaintiff are asking the court to grant class-action certification for an estimated 650 current and former Costco employees allegedly kept from top store-management jobs through a pattern of discrimination that overwhelmingly favored men, according to the filing.

Costco manager files sex-bias suit

Source: Abigail Goldman, Los Angeles Times
Date: August 18, 2004

Costco Wholesale Corp., often lauded for its generous pay and benefits, was sued Tuesday by a female employee who claims the company denies women promotion to the highest ranks of store management. The federal lawsuit, filed in San Francisco by an assistant manager at a Costco store in Colorado, seeks class-action status on behalf of more than 650 women who have worked for Costco since 2001.

Women employees sue Costco

Source: Amy Joyce, Brooke A. Masters, Washington Post
Date: August 17, 2004

Women employees of Costco Wholesale Corp. filed a sex discrimination class action suit today, alleging that the giant retailer imposes a glass ceiling that prevents women from reaching the top and keeps them in lower paid positions. Although Costco's U.S. workforce of 78,000 is nearly 50 percent female, just one in six managers are women, according to a civil rights complaint filed in federal court in San Francisco. The lawsuit also claims the women are not able to even apply for the higher paying jobs because the firm typically does not post them. "There is absolutely no system for promotion at Costco whatsoever," said Brad Seligman, lead counsel and executive director of the Impact Fund, a Berkeley-based nonprofit legal foundation that supports major civil rights litigation. "The decisions about who gets promoted at Costco are made by senior executives, who are all male."

Suit alleges sex bias in Costco job promotions

Source: Russ Britt, William Spain, Investor's Business Daily
Date: August 17, 2004

A lawsuit filed in federal court Tuesday alleged that discount retailer Costco Wholesale routinely passes over women for promotion to managerial positions at its stores. The suit, which seeks class-action status, alleges that less than one in six Costco senior store managers are women. Meanwhile, Costco's work force is nearly 50 percent female, according to a press release from the public-interest law firm handling the case, The Impact Fund of Berkeley, Calif. The Impact Fund is part of the same group handling a sex-discrimination class-action suit against Wal-Mart. Unlike that suit, though, the group does not charge Costco with gender discrimination in pay rates. In addition, the pool of current and former Costco employees eligible for the class--roughly 600--is far smaller than Wal-Mart's 1.5 million.

Court to hear Wal-Mart's appeal of sex discrimination case

Source: Associated Press, Mercury News [California]
Date: August 13, 2004

A federal appeals court agreed Friday to hear Wal-Mart Stores Inc. appeal of a San Francisco judge's order approving class-action status for a sex-discrimination lawsuit representing as many as 1.6 million current and former women employees. In a brief order, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not comment on the merit's of the appeal, and did not say when it would hear it.

The huge class action sex discrimination suit against Wal-Mart

Source: Anthony J. Sebok, FindLaw
Date: August 9, 2004

If it is allowed to go forward, Dukes v. Wal-Mart would be the largest employment discrimination case in the history of the United States. The lawyers for the class claim that approximately 1.5 million women are potential members of the class. Last week, Wal-Mart petitioned the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, asking it to step in and decertify the case. It is highly usual for an appellate court to get involved in a lawsuit before there is a final judgment in a trial. But Wal-Mart will try to persuade the Ninth Circuit that Dukes is a very unusual case, and that is why the class action should be stopped before it goes too far. In this column, I will explain two reasons why the Dukes suit is indeed unusual--but I with argue that neither justifies the Ninth Circuit's stepping in and stopping the case.

Woman Awarded $2.95 Million in UC Discrimination Case

Source: Rebecca Trounson, Los Angeles Times
Date: August 5, 2004

A former clinical instructor at the UCLA School of Medicine has won a $2.95-million judgment against the University of California from a Superior Court jury in a sex discrimination and retaliation case. The jury, in Los Angeles County Superior Court, found that UCLA had discriminated against Janet Conney in her efforts to obtain a tenure-track position at the university, then retaliated against her when she complained.

Jiffy Lube franchisee to settle lawsuit

Source: Associated Press, Boston Globe
Date: August 2, 2004

A Jiffy Lube franchise operator has agreed to pay $299,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by three female employees through the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC lawsuit claimed supervisors and other employees at a Lynwood, Calif., Jiffy Lube franchise operated by The Oil Shoppe Inc. created a hostile work environment by making explicit sexual remarks and other egregious comments to female employees, two of whom were teenagers. One of the female employees also claimed she was fired when she filed a complaint with the company.

Fired worker, 54, sues Google, alleges age bias

Source: Michael Liedtke, Associated Press, Arizona Republic
Date: July 26, 2004

A lawsuit filed earlier this month by a recently fired Google manager contend[s] that the company has cultivated a culture that discriminates against older workers and fosters serious morale problems. The civil complaint, filed in Santa Clara Superior Court, alleges Mountain View-based Google fired Brian Reid, 54, as its director of operations in February 2004 because he didn't fit in a culture emphasizing "youth and energy." Wrongful-termination suits alleging age discrimination are common in corporate America, but Reid's complaint could prove awkward for Google, an unorthodox company that has depicted itself as a progressive employer since its founding nearly six years ago.

U.S. Chamber supports Wal-Mart in suit

Source: Associated Press, Forbes.com
Date: July 15, 2004

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has filed court papers in support of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s bid to have a judge's order approving class-action status for a large sex-discrimination lawsuit against the world's largest retailer thrown out. The chamber, which represents businesses across the country, backs Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart's argument that the lawsuit is so large it is unmanageable. The chamber said in a filing dated July 13 that the decision should be overturned because it opens numerous businesses to similar suits. Companies would be under tremendous pressure to settle the lawsuits because of the high stakes involved if a company loses at trial.

Wal-Mart seeking review of class-action suit status

Source: Constance L. Hays, New York Times
Date: July 7, 2004

Lawyers for Wal-Mart Stores asked a federal appeals court yesterday to review a judge's ruling that granted class-action status to a sex discrimination case, arguing that it was unfairly expanded to include as many as 1.6 million employees. The case is now the largest of its kind in United States history and would include nearly every woman who has worked at the company since December 1998. Should Wal-Mart lose the case or agree to settle it, the cost could run into billions of dollars. The Wal-Mart request, filed yesterday with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, maintains that if allowed to proceed, the case "would strip both absent class members and Wal-Mart of basic due process rights.''

Wal-Mart case highlights covert bias

Source: H.J. Cummins, Star Tribune [Minnesota]
Date: July 4, 2004

Maybe not a sexist word passes the boss' lips. And maybe every company policy is gender P.C. Women still can face a stealth discrimination--a kind of second-generation sexism. That's the accusation against Wal-Mart and the other reason--beyond its unprecedented size--that the sex-discrimination lawsuit against the budget retailer carries implications far beyond the case or even the retail industry. Women employees of the world's largest retailer, in a class action that potentially could include 1.6 million plaintiffs, complain that managers favor men in pay and promotions. The bulk of the case is built around two components of a more modern take on how sexism hurts women. One component blames stereotypes of women as less competent and less committed to work, something called "cognitive bias." Another looks for employment policies that appear fair but play out in ways that hurt women. That's called "disparate impact."

Underdog affinity fires Seligman's legal career

Source: Jessica Guynn, Contra Costa Times [California]
Date: June 27, 2004

The case that shook the corporate foundation in Bentonville, Ark., last week could be called Brad Seligman v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Seligman, considered one of the nation's most experienced and skillful class-action lawyers, views the case against Wal-Mart as an unprecedented opportunity to narrow the wage gender gap and open the doors to advancement for women across corporate America, particularly women in low-wage retail jobs. Seligman long has been a lawyer for whom cases are causes. More than a decade ago, he left a lucrative private law practice and used $1.25 million of his own money to seed The Impact Fund, a nonprofit in Berkeley that he started to subsidize civil rights, poverty and environmental class-action lawsuits.

Attention Wal-Mart plaintiffs: hurdles ahead

Source: Jonathan D. Glater, New York Times
Date: June 27, 2004

It may be the biggest employment discrimination lawsuit ever filed, as the lawyers who brought it contend. But that may make the challenge in the case against Wal-Mart Stores all the more difficult. The lawyers must keep the case simple. On that much, at least, other lawyers and legal scholars agree.

Wal-Mart lawsuit could pave way for other massive job-bias claims

Source: Lisa Girion, Los Angeles Times
Date: June 26, 2004

If U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Jenkins' decision withstands Wal-Mart's promised appeal, the giant retailer will be facing the nation's largest workplace discrimination suit--and the possibility of a settlement or jury award running into the billions of dollars. The prospect of such a huge liability--or big pay day--is reverberating through the ranks of employers, employees and lawyers on both sides of the bar. Plaintiffs' lawyers are often looking for profitable new areas of litigation. Although taking on a deep-pocketed plaintiff such as Wal-Mart may be an enticing prospect for some attorneys, many observers don't expect a flood of nationwide bias cases against big employers. After all, handling such litigation is difficult, expensive and risky.

Judge dismisses 50 IBM toxics lawsuits

Source: John Borland, ZDNet
Date: June 24, 2004

A judge in California has dismissed approximately 50 toxic chemical lawsuits filed by former IBM employees against the computer giant, following a round of court-ordered mediation. The employees had charged that IBM was responsible in part for a series of cancers and other illnesses, which they said were attributable to working with toxic chemicals used in the semiconductor manufacturing process. The semiconductor industry has staunchly maintained that its members have done everything they could over the years to prevent exposure to toxic chemicals and that manufacturing floors were safe work environments.

Women say Wal-Mart execs knew of sex bias

Source: Stephanie Armour, USA Today
Date: June 24, 2004

Lawyers for women in a sex-discrimination class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart are laying the groundwork for showing that top executives at the retail giant knew that female employees were paid less and promoted less. They say e-mails and letters about discrimination were sent directly to CEO Lee Scott, concerns about the lack of women in management were brought to board members, and Wal-Mart's own internal studies found the company lagged behind other retailers in promoting women. That issue is key because in order to secure punitive damages, the women's lawyers must show that corporate executives exhibited malice or reckless disregard.

Wal-Mart suit could ripple through industry

Source: Stephanie Armour, Lorrie Grant, USA Today
Date: June 23, 2004

A sex-discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores that was certified as a class action Tuesday could have ramifications in an industry where Wal-Mart is viewed as a leader. The lawsuit, the largest private civil rights case ever, could prompt some companies to analyze their own pay and promotions practices to be sure they're not vulnerable to similar claims. Retail is among the top 20 occupations of women in the USA, the Department of Labor says. The Wal-Mart lawsuit is being closely watched because the discount retailer is the No. 1 private employer. However, some experts say the issue won't reverberate beyond Wal-Mart because many retailers have already taken steps to ensure women are not lagging in pay or promotions.

'Rife with discrimination'

Source: Stephanie Armour, USA Today
Date: June 24, 2004

The class-action sex-discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart will force the retail giant to face claims that the company is rife with sexism, with women denied promotions, paid less and in some cases subjected to demeaning comments or sexist acts. Interviews with some of the plaintiffs, statistics compiled for their attorneys and sworn statements by current and former Wal-Mart employees depict a company where women are blocked from management jobs and subjected to demeaning comments. The decision to certify the lawsuit as a class action makes this the largest private civil rights case ever. The ruling raises the legal stakes for Wal-Mart, and it casts new attention to the plaintiffs' claims and Wal-Mart's treatment of its female employees.

Wal-Mart and sex discrimination by the numbers

Source: Dan Ackman, Forbes.com
Date: June 23, 2004

A federal judge in San Francisco yesterday granted class-action status to a sex-discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores, the nation's largest employer. For the case to get this far is already a victory for the plaintiffs. Indeed, most sex discrimination allegations don't make it to a courthouse at all; according to data compiled by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there were 27,146 sex discrimination claims resolved administratively by its office last year. More than 15,000 claims were found to have "no reasonable cause," and were likely dropped. Just 2,877 resulted in settlements. The EEOC filed just 393 lawsuits on sex discrimination grounds.

Wal-Mart bias case moves forward

Source: Amy Joyce, Washington Post
Date: June 23, 2004

A federal judge in San Francisco ruled yesterday that a sex-discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. could proceed to trial as a class action because of evidence the nation's largest employer paid female workers less and gave them fewer promotions than men. The suit could include as many as 1.6 million current and former female Wal-Mart employees, in what would be the largest private employer civil rights case in U.S. history.

Wal-Mart sex-bias suit given class-action status

Source: Steven Greenhouse, Constance L. Hays, New York Times
Date: June 23, 2004

A federal judge ruled yesterday that a lawsuit that accuses Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of discriminating against women can proceed as a class action covering about 1.6 million current and former employees, making it by far the largest workplace-bias lawsuit in United States history. The lawsuit, brought in 2001 by six women, accuses Wal-Mart of systematically paying women less than men and offering women fewer opportunities for promotion. "This is the largest civil rights class action ever certified," said Brad Seligman, lead counsel for the women. "We hope to fundamentally change Wal-Mart since Wal-Mart is the industry leader. We think changing Wal-Mart for the better is going to help change everybody for the better."

Judge approves Wal-Mart class-action case

Source: Amy Joyce, Washington Post
Date: June 22, 2004

A federal judge ruled today that a sex discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. could go to trial as a class action, in what would be the largest civil rights case against a private employer in U.S. history. The suit, which alleges that Wal-Mart created a culture in which women were paid less and received fewer promotions than men, could represent as many as 1.6 million current and former female employees.

Calpine named in sex discrimination suit

Source: Mercury News [California]
Date: June 18, 2004

Federal authorities filed a sex discrimination suit Thursday against Calpine accusing the San Jose energy company of illegally paying a female data analyst 41 percent less than a male co-worker for the same work. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges equal pay and civil rights act violations and seeks salary adjustment, back pay and damages.

9th Circuit OKs Berkeley's living wage law

Source: Jeff Chorney, The Recorder, law.com
Date: June 18, 2004

A divided 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld Berkeley, Calif.'s living wage ordinance Wednesday, saying the city had not broken contract rules or unfairly discriminated against particular businesses. The majority opinion in RUI One Corp. v. City of Berkeley, 04 C.D.O.S. 5229, denied all of RUI's arguments while also addressing the social benefit of cities requiring businesses to pay a living wage.

Berkeley's living wage ordinance is upheld in federal appeals court

Source: Henry Weinstein, Los Angeles Times
Date: June 17, 2004

A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Wednesday upheld Berkeley's authority to require higher minimum wages for some workers, the first appellate ruling in the country on whether local governments have that power. By a 2-1 ruling, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a lawsuit against the city over its "living wage" ordinance. The law mandated minimum hourly wages and employee benefits for certain companies that received financial benefits from the city such as city contracts, leases on city property or certain tax exemptions. In September 2000, Berkeley amended its law to cover companies in the Berkeley Marina that had six or more workers and annual gross receipts of $350,000 or more. That move represented a new twist on the living wage movement -- targeting businesses in certain parts of a city.

Court upholds Berkeley 'living wage'

Source: San Francisco Business Times
Date: June 14, 2004

The city of Berkeley [California] was within its rights to insist that a restaurant operator at the city's marina pay its workers the city's "living wage," a three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday. "It is more than reasonable that the city should expect marina businesses, which receive so many benefits from the city in the form of improvements and lack of competition due to the development moratorium, and which operate on land held in the public trust, to contribute to the welfare of the surrounding community and not to exacerbate its problems," said the majority opinion, written by Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw.

Female cops win settlement, lose their careers

Source: Cathy Redfern, Santa Cruz Sentinel [California]
Date: June 15, 2004

Former police officer Heather Rangel says she did what she believed was right when she told investigators about sexual harassment at a police academy. But her honesty led to the loss of her job. And when she joined a sex discrimination lawsuit, she lost her career. But last month, the city of Sunnyvale settled with the four former officers for $1.95 million, while admitting no wrongdoing. In late 2002, three area women sued the Sunnyvale Public Safety Department, the city and several officers in federal court, alleging sexual harassment, sex discrimination and other violations of their rights by male officers. Rangel joined the suit last year.

$3.5M ADR award against 24 Hour Fitness unsealed

Source: Alexei Oreskovic, The Recorder
Date: June 11, 2004

Health club giant 24 Hour Fitness was hit for $3.5 million for sexual harassment in a private arbitration decision that was unsealed Friday in Contra Costa County Superior Court in California. The unsealing of the arbitration award and the details of the case, from a forum favored by businesses precisely because of its confidential nature, gave the plaintiffs cause to cheer. "The wrongdoing of companies like 24 Hour Fitness deserves public scrutiny. That's why we fought it," said Jean Hyams, an attorney at Oakland's Boxer and Gerson who represented plaintiff Cynthia Malek.

Amtrak worker wins $500K in discrimination lawsuit

Source: Associated Press, Chicago Sun-Times
Date: May 31, 2004

Nearly a decade after he lost his job, a former Amtrak electrician was awarded $500,000 in a racial discrimination lawsuit he filed against the company. Abner Morgan's victory in U.S. District Court on Thursday came two years after the Supreme Court ordered a new trial. Morgan claimed he and other black workers at the Oakland maintenance yard suffered from racial slurs and discriminatory discipline, and were denied training and work assignments.

Daughter joins mother in bias suit vs. law firm

Source: Matt Leedy, Fresno Bee [California]
Date: May 31, 2004

Elizabeth Hook's daughter was close behind when she stepped from the Fresno County Courthouse this month to announce her lawsuit in which she alleges discrimination by a Fresno law office. Angelica Mendiola is alongside her mother in their fight against the law firm of Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Popalardo. Like her mother, Mendiola said she was discriminated against because she is Hispanic. She is seeking more than $1 million.

Ruling upholds living-wage law

Source: Michelle Meyers, Alameda Times-Star [California]
Date: May 27, 2004

The constitutionality of Hayward's living-wage law was affirmed last week by an Alameda County judge in his ruling on a class-action lawsuit against national uniform supplier Cintas Corp. Superior Court Judge Steven Brick's sweeping ruling against Cincinnati-based Cintas is the latest development in a case filed in June by two production workers at Cintas' San Leandro plant, which used to provide the city of Hayward with uniform laundry services. The case appears to be the first in which a city's living-wage law has gone before a judge, according to union researchers.

EEOC sues San Jose for age discrimination

Source: Associated Press, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Date: May 19, 2004

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed an age-discrimination suit against the city of San Jose on Monday. The EEOC alleges that the city violated federal law when it denied a promotion to a 72-year-old mechanic and gave the job to younger, less experienced workers.

Ninth Circuit Strikes Down California Union Neutrality Law

Source: Jackson Lewis LLP
Date: May 12, 2004

In a significant and eagerly awaited decision on employers' rights, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has invalidated key provisions of a California law mandating employer neutrality in the face of union organizing. In Chamber of Commerce v. Lockyer (9th Cir., April 20, 2004), the Ninth Circuit held that such neutrality legislation fundamentally alters the robust exchange of speech and ideas during union organizing critical to national labor relations policy.

Spanish Skills Led to Extra Work, S.D. Detective Says

Source: Greg Moran, San Diego Union-Tribune
Date: May 13, 2004

A jury has awarded $1.3 million to a San Diego police detective who claimed he was discriminated against because his ability to speak Spanish led to excessive work and retaliation from his supervisors when he complained. Narcotics detective Felipe Arroyo, who has been on the force for 24 years, was awarded $425,000 Tuesday on his discrimination claim, and $900,000 on his claim that the department retaliated against him, said Joel Golden, his attorney. In effect, Arroyo argued that additional work amounted to discrimination based on his national origin.

Littler Mendelson Rapped by Judge, Hit With Penalty

Source: Justin M. Norton, The Recorder (CA)
Date: May 10, 2004

A Santa Clara County, Calif., judge has fined Cypress Semiconductor Corp. and its law firm, Littler Mendelson, nearly $88,000 for failing to name more than 20 witnesses during the discovery phase of a sexual harassment case. Superior Court Judge Richard Turrone levied the penalty after a mistrial was declared in a case filed by former Cypress employee Margo Kearney. Just days before the trial was to begin in late February, defense attorneys presented 22 new witnesses who weren't identified during discovery. Cypress was "not complete or straightforward or truthful, because it excluded any mention of the 22 persons whom Cypress listed as witnesses a few weeks later," Turrone wrote. "Cypress and its counsel knew that the 22 had relevant knowledge; yet they failed to disclose the witnesses' identities, addresses and telephone numbers." "Cypress and its counsel have abused the discovery process ... monetary sanctions are mandated," the judge wrote. The fines will cover the plaintiff's attorney fees and costs in preparing for trial. A jury was seated shortly before Turrone declared a mistrial.

Are "Friends" Writers "Required" To Engage in Sexual Banter, Even If the Effect Is Harassing?

Source: Joanna Grossman, FindLaw's Writ
Date: May 4, 2004

As the sun sets this week on "Friends," NBC's long-running hit sitcom, the writers, producers and network remain embroiled in litigation. The case of Lyle v. Warner Brothers Television Productions has just been sent back to the lower court. At trial, a judge and jury will determine whether the writers' crude sexual remarks and gestures created a hostile environment for a female assistant.

Raunchy 'Friends' Meetings Lead to Sex Harass Claim

Source: Alexei Oreskovic, The Recorder
Date: April 26, 2004

Writing television comedy is dirty work. So dirty that crass behavior and vulgar jokes may be an acceptable part of the creative process, rather than a hostile work environment, a state court of appeal ruled. In a unanimous decision Wednesday, 2nd District Court of Appeal Justice Earl Johnson Jr. held that it's up to a jury to determine whether the writers of the hit TV sitcom "Friends" were justified in regularly talking in a sexual nature about female cast members, pretending to masturbate during meetings, and making sexually explicit drawings. The writers, along with the television studios responsible for "Friends," are being sued by a former writers' assistant who alleges that she was subjected to sexual and racial harassment while working for the show. Calling the defendants' "creative necessity" argument "unique in the annals of sexual harassment litigation," Johnson acknowledged that it nevertheless could be legitimate.

Worker Alleges Friends Harassment

Source: BBC (UK)
Date: April 23, 2004

A worker on TV series Friends who alleges she was sexually and racially harassed by writers has had her claim reinstated by an appeals court. Amaani Lyle said three writers constantly joked about women and sex, and often ridiculed black people, when she was a writer's assistant in 1999. Her case was dismissed at Los Angeles County Superior Court in 2002. It was reinstated in part by the second district court of appeal, which said it had not warranted a dismissal.

Bias Suits Name Rio School District

Source: Holly J. Wolcott, Los Angeles Times
Date: April 21, 2004

Two teachers and a secretary have filed lawsuits against the Rio Elementary School District and its former superintendent, alleging racial discrimination and harassment by a Latino administration. The lawsuits also allege the white employees were retaliated against for reporting to the Ventura County Grand Jury last year that then-Supt. Yolanda Benitez and others had improperly sought to impose a pro-bilingual educational program in the largely Latino elementary school district. The lawsuits, filed separately last week and in late February in Ventura County Superior Court, seek a combined $6.2 million in damages from the Oxnard district and Benitez.

Ruling Aids Illegal Workers

Source: Nancy Cleland, Los Angeles Times
Date: April 14, 2004

A federal appeals court Tuesday strengthened the hand of undocumented workers who file claims against employers, making it less likely that their illegal status could be used against them. The precedent-setting opinion, closely watched by labor and immigrant rights groups, blunts the effect of a controversial 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision that denied back pay to an illegal immigrant who was fired for union organizing. Immigrant advocates have said that some employers have used the ruling to intimidate immigrant workers, implying that they had no workplace rights. Under Tuesday's decision by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, employers facing discrimination charges or other claims can't ask about a worker's immigration status in hopes of blocking damages.

Female Researcher Wins $1 Million From Stanford

Source: Howard Mintz (San Jose Mercury News), Contra Costa Times
Date: April 13, 2004

A Santa Clara County jury on Friday slapped Stanford University with a $1 million judgment, finding that officials in the nanofabrication facility committed "outrageous" misconduct against a former researcher embroiled in a long-running employment dispute. Ending a three-week trial in Superior Court, jurors sided with Robin King, a Half Moon Bay woman who alleged that Stanford tried to interfere with her efforts to get a job with a semiconductor company in retaliation for years of wrangling with electrical engineering department leaders over her gender discrimination claims. The jury found that Stanford's mistreatment of King, which allegedly cost her a new job in 2001, warranted $625,000 in punitive damages, the bulk of the award against the university. The jury also ordered Stanford to pay $390,000 to King to compensate for losses she suffered after leaving Stanford, where she had worked for 20 years. King was a technician in the nanofabrication center, which focuses on computer chip research. She said she has been unable to find a job since her relationship with Stanford soured.

Ex-General Manager of KNX-AM Files Age-Discrimination Lawsuit

Source: Steve Carney, Los Angeles Times
Date: April 9, 2004

George Nicholaw, the former general manager of news station KNX-AM (1070) who was best known to Southland listeners for his on-air editorials, filed an age-discrimination lawsuit Wednesday over his departure from the station in October. Nicholaw, 75, seeks unspecified punitive damages, back pay and other expenses, although he is not asking to be reinstated. Nicholaw was named vice president and general manager of KNX in August 1967. He and the station won numerous awards and accolades from journalism organizations, public officials and others during his 36 years there until Viacom Inc.'s Infinity Radio division allegedly fired him.

Dealers Settle Suit on Racism for $550k

Source: Scott Marshall, Contra Costa Times
Date: April 7, 2004

Two Solano County car dealerships have agreed to pay $550,000 to settle a federal lawsuit in which six finance managers and a sales manager who were Afghan-Americans claimed they had been called "terrorists" and "thieves" and derided for their heritage, skin color and Muslim faith. The two dealerships, Barber Dodge and Fairfield Toyota, denied wrongdoing. But in a consent decree signed and accepted Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr., the dealerships agreed to conduct training, to revise anti-discrimination policies and set up a complaint procedure. The seven employees -- five finance managers, a general sales manager and a special finance director -- were subjected to "all the racial slurs you can imagine, on a regular basis by top managers," said William Tamayo, an attorney for the San Francisco office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Hooters Sued for Spying on Women

Source: Reuters, CNN Money
Date: March 31, 2004

Five women who say they were secretly videotaped naked or undressing while they applied for jobs at a Los Angeles area Hooters sued the restaurant chain Tuesday. The lawsuit comes as police in the Los Angeles suburb of West Covina investigate 180 video files seized from the personal computer of a former Hooters manager that show job applicants changing into the chain's body-hugging uniforms. No charges have been filed against the former manager, Juan Aponte, though police say they will present a case to prosecutors after interviewing some 1,200 women who applied for jobs at the restaurant.

EEOC, Spherion Reach 'Six-Figure' Settlement in Sega Discrimination Case

Source: Joan Fleischer Tamen, Sun-Sentinel (FL)
Date: March 25, 2004

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is expected to announce a settlement today with Fort Lauderdale-based Spherion Corp. on a complaint of employment discrimination and retaliation for knowingly allowing a client company in San Francisco to fire 12 Filipino workers because of their national origin. A six-figure settlement has been reached among federal regulators, Spherion, an outsourcing company for temporary workers, and Sega of America Inc., a video and computer game developer. In addition to firing the 12 game testers in February 2002, Sega fired four other workers because of their friendship with an employee who had complained about discrimination, the EEOC said. A game tester, who was not Filipino, complained to Sega managers that Filipinos were getting preferential treatment, the EEOC said in its lawsuit filed Sept. 30, 2002, in federal court in San Francisco.

City to Pay Officer $4 Million in Bias Case

Source: Richard Winton and Jessica Garrison, Los Angeles Times
Date: March 25, 2004

A Japanese American police officer will receive $4 million after the Los Angeles City Council decided Wednesday to settle rather than pursue an appeal of a jury's finding that he was the victim of on-the-job racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Veteran Richard Nagatoshi had won one of the largest employment discrimination judgments ever against the Los Angeles Police Department. Nagatoshi, still a member of the LAPD, said Wednesday that he was pleased with the outcome but could not comment further. "He endured many years of an attack on his dignity as a person, and he refused to let them win. He prevailed and was completely vindicated. It was a matter of honor," said his attorney, Matthew McNicholas.

Judge: D'Arrigo Must Pay for Travel

Source: Dania Akkad, Salinas Californian
Date: March 25, 2004

A federal judge has ruled that Salinas-based D'Arrigo Brothers Co. must reimburse more than 3,000 laborers for thousands of hours spent traveling on vans to and from the fields where they picked vegetables. Though one estimate put the figure as high as $13 million, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel of San Jose will decide exactly how much money D'Arrigo Brothers Co. owes in back wages and penalties after April 5, the deadline for both sides in the case to submit time sheets and data. Fogel issued his ruling last week. "The people should get ... the regular, average hourly rate for the time they spent on the bus," said Paul Strauss, a partner at Chicago-based Miner Barnhill & Galland, which represented D'Arrigo workers.

Gap to Settle Employee Clothes Suit

Source: Bloomberg News, Los Angeles Times
Date: March 3, 2004

Gap Inc., the largest U.S. clothing retailer, has tentatively settled a lawsuit filed by employees who said they were forced to buy and wear the company's clothes at work in violation of California labor laws. Terms of the settlement have not been completed, said Patrick Kitchin, an attorney for a Gap employee who filed the suit on behalf of current and former workers at 500 California Gap stores. The suit sought reimbursement for the money workers spent to buy Gap clothes. The settlement is subject to court approval. Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. face similar suits over employee dress policies.

Contraception Coverage Upheld

Source: Mike McKee, The Recorder
Date: March 2, 2004

Even if they say that doing so violates the basic tenets of their religion, employers must provide coverage for contraception as part of employee health care plans, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday. The court said employers -- even church-affiliated employers -- must qualify as a "religious employer" in order to be exempt from a state law that requires contraceptive coverage by employers who also provide insurance for prescription drugs. The 6-1 decision upholds the constitutionality of the California Women's Contraception Equality Act, passed by legislators in 1999 to eliminate gender discrimination. Studies had shown that women in their childbearing years spend at least 68 percent more than men on out-of-pocket health care costs, largely because of contraceptive prices and unintended pregnancies.

Catholic Group Is Told to Pay for Birth Control

Source: Stephanie Strom, New York Times
Date: March 2, 2004

The California Supreme Court ruled Monday that Catholic Charities must provide its employees in California with medical coverage for birth control, in spite of its religious objections to contraception. The ruling has sweeping implications for religion-based nonprofit organizations and hospitals throughout the state and could influence decisions made in at least 20 other states that have similar laws requiring employers to provide contraception as part of employee health coverage, legal experts said. A similar case, brought by Catholic and Protestant organizations, is winding its way through the New York courts. "There are other groups in similar situations in California, so it is quite significant in that way," said Erwin Chemerinsky, a law professor at the University of Southern California. "And it probably will influence how the laws are interpreted in other states. It's an important ruling."

Dick Clark Sued

Source: Miami Herald
Date: March 2, 2004

Dick Clark, the 74-year-old former host of American Bandstand known for his ageless face, was sued by a 76-year-old colleague who claims he wasn't hired because of his age. Ralph Andrews, who created and produced the television shows Celebrity Sweepstakes, You Don't Say and Liars Club, claims he was passed over for positions at Dick Clark Productions in favor of a 30 year-old. Andrews claims Clark told him in a letter that ''people our age are considered dinosaurs.''

IBM Cleared in Toxic-Exposure Trial

Source: Shannon Lafferty, The Recorder
Date: February 27, 2004

A Santa Clara County jury found Thursday that chemicals used in IBM cleanrooms didn't sicken two former workers who later contracted cancer. The unanimous defense verdict, returned on the second day of deliberations, comes after a highly publicized, five-month trial that was expected to influence nearly 240 additional cases filed against IBM by sick workers and their families in California, New York and Minnesota. Plaintiffs attorney Richard Alexander had identified the two plaintiffs, Alida Hernandez and James Moore, as two of his most promising. The eleven-woman, one-man jury was given a seven-question verdict form for each plaintiff. But the jury answered just the first question, concluding that Hernandez and Moore did not suffer from on-the-job systemic chemical poisoning.

Jurors Rule In Favor Of IBM In Cancer Lawsuit Brought By Ex-Employees

Source: May Wong, AP, CRN
Date: February 26, 2004

In a major victory for the electronics industry, a jury decided Thursday that IBM was not responsible for the cancers that developed in two former employees at a disk drive plant. The jury deliberated for less than two days before clearing the computer giant of claims that the harsh chemicals used in its factory caused the retirees' illnesses. The former workers, who were diagnosed with cancer in the 1990s, were seeking damages that could have totaled millions of dollars. The trial was the first of more than 200 similar lawsuits against IBM, and riveted the industry, which bills itself as clean and progressive. Some observers had said a jury verdict against IBM could have triggered more lawsuits against semiconductor companies and other high-tech businesses.

Trial Over Safety at I.B.M. Now in the Hands of Jurors

Source: Laurie J. Flynn, New York Times
Date: February 26, 2004

Jurors began deliberations on Wednesday morning in a workplace hazards case brought against I.B.M. by two former employees who claim the company knowingly exposed them to dangerous chemicals that ultimately gave them cancer. Closing arguments in the four-month trial ended on Tuesday. Lawyers in the case said the jury of 11 women and one man might return a verdict by next week. The outcome could be far-reaching for the technology industry because the chemicals involved were widely used in electronics manufacturing in the 1970's and 1980's.

Lawsuit Against IBM Goes to Jury

Source: Jim Hopkins, USA Today
Date: February 25, 2004

A California jury is set to start deliberations Wednesday in a high-profile lawsuit against IBM by two former workers claiming they developed cancer from chemicals used at a Silicon Valley factory. The case went to the jury Tuesday. It is being closely watched because it challenges the tech industry's widely held reputation for running clean and safe factories. A loss for IBM could spur more lawsuits against the tech giant and other companies, legal experts say. IBM attorney Robert Weber attacked the workers' evidence as little more than "smoke and mirrors." He denied their central claim -- that IBM knew they were sickened by acetone and other chemicals at a factory in San Jose but kept that information from them. The workers' attorney, Richard Alexander, argued that IBM doctors and other health workers did not tell employees about risks of toxins when they complained of feeling sick. "The result was what you expect -- cancer," he said.

Attorney Sums Up Case Against IBM

Source: Chris Gaither, Los Angeles Times
Date: February 24, 2004

IBM Corp. kept sending some employees back to work in its San Jose electronics factory even though the company knew chemicals used there were making them sick, an attorney for two cancer-stricken former IBM workers told a jury Monday. In closing arguments in a case that could threaten the high-tech industry's reputation as clean and safe, attorney Richard Alexander said his clients suffered "systemic chemical poisoning" from solvents they used at the hard disk drive factory and that IBM concealed the cause of their sickness from them.

Trial Against I.B.M. Nears a Finish

Source: Laurie J. Flynn, New York Times
Date: February 23, 2004

For Robert C. Weber, the lawyer defending I.B.M. in a workplace hazards case that has drawn the attention of the technology industry, this weekend was the start of the home stretch. Closing arguments begin Monday in the five-month-long trial of a lawsuit brought against the company by two former employees who accuse it of knowingly exposing them to dangerous chemicals. Since October, Mr. Weber, a partner with the Jones Day law firm, based in Cleveland, has been in the California Superior Court in Santa Clara, trying to show that no link exists between the I.B.M. factory where the plaintiffs worked and the cancers they later developed. Representing unpopular defendants is a familiar role for Mr. Weber, who has built a career of representing "the clients the underdogs want to root against," as he calls them. He has grown accustomed to public criticism, he said, but added that the legal system works best when it is tested by aggressive lawyering. In this case, Mr. Weber argues that the plaintiffs' charge that I.B.M. managers lied to them is a fabrication, concocted by the plaintiffs after they learned about the legal efforts of other I.B.M. workers to put responsibility for their illnesses on the company.

Workers' IBM Case Heading to Jury

Source: Joseph Menn, Los Angeles Times
Date: February 23, 2004

Jurors in Santa Clara will begin deliberating this week whether to hold IBM Corp. responsible for the cancers developed by two former employees who handled chemicals at the company's plant in San Jose. James Moore and Alida Hernandez are the first of more than 200 plaintiffs to argue in court that exposure to trichloroethylene, sulfuric acid, benzene and other chemicals at IBM's hard disk drive and chip-making factories gave them cancer and caused their children to be born with birth defects. Attorneys for the former employees will give their closing arguments in the 5-year-old case today, followed by IBM's summation Tuesday. When it comes, the verdict in Santa Clara Superior Court could have enormous implications for IBM and other high-tech manufacturers.

S.F. Sues to Keep Marrying Gays

Source: Matt Krupnick and Thomas Peele, Contra Costa Times
Date: February 20, 2004

City officials sued the state Thursday, claiming the voter-approved California law that bans same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. The suit, filed in response to lawsuits by two groups opposed to the city's issuance of nearly 3,000 marriage certificates to gay couples, says Proposition 22 violates the California constitution's equal-protection clauses. Proposition 22, passed by voters in 2000, specifies that marriage is between a man and a woman. "We are ensuring that the constitutional issue is addressed," City Attorney Dennis Herrera told reporters at City Hall. "The California constitution trumps what are essentially inferior state statutes."

Gay Man Settles with UPS over Alleged Discrimination

Source: Louise Chu (AP), Miami Herald
Date: February 19, 2004

A gay man who sued United Parcel Service Inc. for allegedly denying him and his partner the same benefits as married couples withdrew his complaint Wednesday, after the two parties reached an out-of-court settlement. Daniel Kline, 47, of San Francisco, had sued Atlanta-based UPS in Alameda County Superior Court last August, accusing the company of discrimination after it rejected his request for an out-of-state transfer as he sought to follow his partner, 51-year-old Frank Sories, to Chicago. The suit claimed the company's "Management Initiated Transfer Policy" violates the California Fair Employment and Housing Act's prohibitions on marital status discrimination. Both parties announced Wednesday that they recently reached a settlement, the terms of which are confidential. "We're hopeful that this lets other employers know that if they deny benefits to employees who are in same-sex relationships that they provide to married employees, they're opening themselves up to being sued," said Jon Davidson, senior counsel at the New York-based Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, an organization that fights for the legal rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and those with HIV or AIDS.

Appellate Court Throws Out $1 Million Judgement in Lab Firing Case

Source: Associated Press, Mercury News
Date: January 29, 2004

A California appeals court has reversed a $1 million dollar court award for a woman who claimed she was fired by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in retaliation for helping a co-worker file a sexual harassment claim. Dee Kotla, a computer technician and 14-year employee, was fired in 1997 for using a lab computer to do work for another company while she was on the job. She was fired two months after her testimony in the sexual harassment case. The First Appellate District court said in a ruling released Wednesday that testimony from an expert witness's in the case of Kotla's firing was improper and prejudiced.

Calif. Appeals Court Reverses Lab Firing Verdict

Source: Mike McKee, The Recorder
Date: January 30, 2004

A big verdict against Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for firing a longtime employee after testifying against the agency in a sexual harassment case was gutted Wednesday when key expert testimony was thrown out on appeal. San Francisco's 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that testimony by industrial psychologist Jay Finkelman on behalf of 14-year employee Dee Kotla was inadmissible under state evidence codes because he provided information that didn't require an expert opinion. "It improperly invaded the province of the jury to draw conclusions from the evidence," Justice Sandra Margulies wrote, "and it lacked any reliable foundation in Dr. Finkelman's professional experience and expertise." Justices William Stein and Douglas Swager concurred.

Wet Seal Settles Store Managers' Suit Concerning Overtime

Source: Leslie Earnest, Los Angeles Times
Date: January 23, 2004

Troubled retailer Wet Seal Inc., which this week resolved a wage dispute involving contract factory workers, said Thursday that it had agreed to pay as much as $1.3 million to settle a lawsuit by California store managers who claimed they were wrongly denied overtime pay. Wet Seal admitted no wrongdoing in either case. Nonetheless, Chief Executive Peter D. Whitford, who was hired last year to turn around the struggling apparel merchant, said that clearing up lingering legal battles would help the company move forward.

Southern California Tech Company Settles Federal Discrimination Suit

Source: Associated Press, Mercury News
Date: January 8, 2004

An Industry-based computer company will pay $350,000 to settle a federal lawsuit that claimed it discriminated against black, Hispanic and female workers, it was announced Thursday. Unicom makes and distributes computer networking components. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged in the suit that Lo repeatedly made racial slurs and offensive stereotyping comments about the workers, violating federal laws against workplace harassment and discrimination.

Grocery Union Files Racketeering Suit

Source: James F. Peltz, Los Angeles Times
Date: January 7, 2004

The grocery workers' union filed a second lawsuit alleging that Ralphs hired back union workers under false names and Social Security numbers despite an official lockout, this time saying the company broke federal racketeering laws. The case mirrored a suit filed Friday in state Superior Court, in which the United Food and Commercial Workers union first made the allegations. The new suit was brought under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law, which provides for triple damage awards if the claims are proved.

Ex-Ice Cream Driver Sues Firm

Source: Robert Airoldi, Tri-Valley Herald (CA)
Date: January 2, 2004

A 54-year-old former delivery driver is suing two now-merged ice-cream companies, claiming the firms refused to accommodate his disability and engaged in race and age discrimination, according to an attorney with The Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center in San Francisco. Ronald Turner drove a truck for Nestle Ice Cream Co. out of a warehouse in Hayward. Nestle merged with Dreyer's Ice Cream in 2003 forming a new company called Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream Co. Turner is suing both seeking monetary damages and reinstatement.

Chronicle, Writer Reach Settlement

Source: San Francisco Chronicle
Date: January 5, 2004

The San Francisco Chronicle has reached a settlement with Henry Norr, a onetime technology reporter and columnist for the paper, over the paper's dismissal of Norr in April of last year. Norr's termination occurred as a result of events arising out of his role in anti-war protests against the current war in Iraq. For More Information: Neutrality or Censorship?

Both Sides Like Chances in I.B.M. Worker Safety Practices Trial

Source: Laurie J. Flynn, New York Times
Date: December 22, 2003

The trial of two retired I.B.M. factory workers accusing the company of knowingly exposing them to dangerous chemicals adjourned for the holidays last week after more than seven weeks of testimony. As the plaintiffs prepare to rest their case, and as I.B.M. prepares its defense, both sides say they like their chances. The plaintiffs, Alida Hernandez and James Moore, claim that I.B.M. exposed them to harmful chemicals while they worked in the company's factory in San Jose, Calif., in the late 1970's and 1980's, and that the exposure caused them to develop cancer. Ms. Hernandez, 72, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993, and Mr. Moore, who is 62, has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Since testimony began on Nov. 4 in the trial in Santa Clara, Calif., the plaintiffs have called more than a dozen witnesses, including other I.B.M. employees, a retired company manager, a former I.B.M. occupational nurse, an oncologist, a poison expert and a ventilation specialist.

Court Changes Job Bias Procedure

Source: Susan Blitch, California Online
Date: December 17, 2003

The California Supreme Court has changed the road map for discrimination lawsuits by public employees against their employers. Public entity employees are familiar with the fact that they are often governed by unique rules and procedures that do not affect private employees. Public employees often must go through special administrative steps before they may be disciplined or terminated from a job. On the other hand, public employees often must also go through a variety of administrative processes or internal procedures when they have a complaint or problem with their employer, supervisor or even another employee. Until recently, this requirement included a public worker's claims of discrimination. Before public workers could sue their employers or supervisors, they had to complete procedures their employer had set up. Not only did the public employee have to comply with any internal administrative hurdles, but they then, as with private employees, had to file a complaint and obtain a right to sue letter from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. On Dec. 1, the California Supreme Court changed all of this.

The Look Of Abercrombie & Fitch

Source: Morley Safer (60 Minutes), WCCO.com
Date: December 7, 2003

Walk into any upscale boutique and you'll see salespeople who look like they walked off the fashion pages. Retailers seek out workers whose look they feel will sell clothes. But can maintaining that look become a form of racial discrimination? That's what the firm of Abercrombie & Fitch is being accused of. Abercrombie & Fitch, which once reeked of old money and Waspy pretension, is now the clothier of choice for the hip 25 and under crowd. Its salespeople are young, attractive and -- it's been charged -- overwhelmingly white. Hiring only attractive people is not necessarily illegal, but choosing a pretty face based on race clearly is. Just how far can a company go in maintaining a certain look?

Leap of Faith

Source: Mike McKee, The Recorder
Date: December 4, 2003

One side called it a case about religious freedom. The other insisted it involved gender discrimination. And while the California Supreme Court debated both issues during oral arguments Tuesday, the justices gave no clear indication about how they will rule in a closely watched case that pits the Catholic Church against the state of California.

[California] Supreme Court Road Show Stops in San Jose

Source: Howard Mintz, San Jose Mercury News
Date: December 2, 2003

When the California Supreme Court last convened in San Jose, the Gold Rush was on. There was a raging political and legal fight under way over whether San Jose should be the state capital. And the justices traveled to court by horse-drawn carriage. With that bit of history as the backdrop, the Supreme Court on Tuesday returned to San Jose for the first time in 150 years, conducting its monthly argument calendar in Silicon Valley as part of an educational program for hundreds of students from the region's high schools. The justices have been taking their act on the road once a year to give different areas a glimpse of the court's business. For the students, Tuesday's proceedings included both a dose of history and a very modern legal and moral conflict over a high-profile challenge to a state law designed to force employers to cover the cost of birth-control pills for women. Catholic organizations have challenged the law, arguing that it tramples on religious freedom because contraceptives are considered sinful by the Roman Catholic Church.

Employees Claiming Bias Have Shorter Path to Court

Source: Melanie Payne, Sacramento Bee
Date: December 2, 2003

The California Supreme Court ruled Monday that public employees do not have to exhaust their employer's grievance process before taking a discrimination case to court. Employee rights supporters hailed the decision as a step forward, but a dissenting justice said it will increase the number of costly and burdensome litigations. State law required a public employee in California who alleged discrimination to do two things before suing his employer in court: file a complaint with the Fair Employment and Housing Authority, and complete all of the steps set by the employer to resolve discrimination complaints.

The California Supreme Court Holds that Damages Cannot Include "Avoidable Consequences" of a Victim's Failure to Properly Complain

Source: Joanna Grossman, FindLaw's Writ
Date: December 2, 2003

On November 24, the California Supreme Court issued a long-awaited decision in an important sexual harassment case. The case, State Department of Health Services v. Superior Court of Sacramento County, struck a compromise between employers and sexual harassment victims. The victory for victims was that the Court upheld strict liability -- that is, liability regardless of fault or lack thereof -- for employers whose supervisors sexually harass their subordinates. The victory for employers, however, was that the Court also stated that the common law doctrine of avoidable consequences applies in this context. Thus, if a victim -- by complaining earlier -- could have prevented some (or even all) of the harassment she suffered, then employers may argue that the damages awarded to the victim should be diminished, or even zeroed out.

Public Workers Can Complain Directly to FEHA

Source: Alexei Oreskovic, The Recorder
Date: December 3, 2003

Municipal employees in California who suffer on-the-job discrimination can bypass their employer's internal grievance procedures and seek relief directly with the state's anti-discrimination agency, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday. In a decision viewed as a boon to all public sector employees, justices held that a plaintiff has the right to choose whether to pursue a discrimination complaint internally or through the Fair Employment and Housing Commission. But the plaintiff is not required to exhaust internal procedures in order to file a complaint with FEHA.

Livermore Lab Settles Discrimination Suit

Source: Associated Press, Newsday
Date: November 21, 2003

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has settled a gender discrimination lawsuit for $17.9 million, plus a 1 percent raise for the lab's 2,500 women employees. The settlement reached Wednesday is the largest of its kind for the University of California, which operates the lab for the federal government. An attorney for current and former employees who sued said that reforms the lab must enact are more significant than the money. Livermore must eliminate a ranking system for administrative employees and some technicians; continue an annual survey of women's pay and promotion; develop a written plan to encourage pay improvements and promotion; and train lab supervisors on gender discrimination.

3,200 Women to Get $9.7M in Lab Settlement

Source: Jahna Berry, The Recorder
Date: November 21, 2003

University of California regents agreed Wednesday to pay $9.7 million in damages to 3,200 past and present female workers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory -- the largest such agreement in lab history. The plaintiffs attorneys may take home $8.2 million -- nearly half -- of the $18 million agreement to settle the massive sex discrimination class action. Filed in 1998, the case alleged that women were paid less and promoted less often than their male colleagues at the UC-run lab. The agreement is one of several payouts the university has announced in recent months, amid criticism that it spends too much on litigation and retaliates against whistleblowers. "You don't enter into a settlement agreement that involves 3,200 women ... unless you have problems," said James Sturdevant, the lead plaintiffs attorney. He credited the leadership of the lab's new director, Michael Anastasio, for helping to resolve the case. "This will dramatically change how they pay and promote women at the lab," Sturdevant said.

Area TV Station Hit with Sexual Harassment Suit

Source: Timothy Roberts, San Jose Business Journal
Date: November 18, 2003

Spanish-language media company Entravision Communications Corp. faces a lawsuit over accusations that a male news director at the company's KSMS-TV in Monterey made sexual comments, asked for sex and repeatedly touched a female reporter and female photographer for more than a year. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office in San Francisco filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Jose, seeking a permanent injunction to stop harassment at the TV station, an order forcing station personnel to learn about sexual harassment, back pay for the two employees, compensation for past and future losses of income, and for pain and suffering. It also seeks punitive damages. According to a statement from the EEOC released Wednesday at a press conference in San Jose, news director Daniel Fonseca made frequent comments to reporter Sofia Long and photographer America Medina about their looks and bodies, made unwelcome sexual advances, touched them, grabbed them and forcefully kissed them.

Suit by Computer Workers

Source: New York Times
Date: November 13, 2003

A class-action lawsuit, filed yesterday on behalf of thousands of employees of the Computer Services Corporation, accuses the company of refusing to pay overtime to computer service workers in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Fred Giannetto and James Doran, former computer-support line workers, filed the case in Los Angeles. It contends that the company systematically avoided paying overtime wages for at least three years.

Hercules Settles Bias Suit for $330,000

Source: Tom Lochner, Contra Costa Times
Date: November 13, 2003

The city has settled a wrongful termination and discrimination lawsuit brought by former City Manager Ken Hobbs for $330,000. Hobbs, who ran the city's operations from 1997 to 2001, was fired in a dispute over his fitness to return to work after a medical leave for spinal surgery to treat nemaline myopathy, a degenerative muscle disease. He began his leave in September 2000 and was cleared by his doctors to return to work in March 2001. But the City Council demanded more information on Hobbs' health before it would allow him to return. In August 2001, the council fired Hobbs, accusing him of insubordination and refusing to cooperate with the city's requests that he undergo further medical tests.

CA Highway Patrol Cleared Of Discrimination

Source: Gillian Flaccus (AP), Sacramento Observer
Date: November 4, 2003

The California Highway Patrol did not discriminate against Blacks and other minorities in hiring and promotions, a federal jury ruled Monday. Jeff Paige, a Black former lieutenant and the lead plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit, sued the agency in 1994 after he was turned down four times for promotion to captain. The jury did find that the Highway Patrol retaliated against Paige for complaining about alleged discrimination by denying him job assignments. Paige, 60, retired in 1996. Jurors must now decide the amount of damages Paige will receive on the retaliation claim.

Jury Rules in Favor of CHP in Job-Bias Case

Source: Jean Guccione, Los Angeles Times
Date: November 4, 2003

After a decade of litigation, a federal jury on Monday exonerated the California Highway Patrol of allegations that it discriminated against minority officers in making job assignments and awarding promotions. The jury of six women and four men, however, found that retired Lt. Jeff D. Paige was the victim of retaliation after he filed the class-action lawsuit against the CHP in 1994, but that he was not the victim of intentional racial discrimination. "The unanimous jury verdict validates what we've been saying all along ? the CHP does not discriminate on the basis of race or national origin when employees seek assignments or promotions," CHP Commissioner D.O. "Spike" Helmick said in a prepared statement. The jury will next decide whether the CHP should pay the 60-year-old Paige monetary damages for the retaliation, which led to his retirement in 1996.

[Sillicon] Valley Paying Close Attention as Worker Safety Case Begins

Source: Lori Aratani, The Mercury News (CA)
Date: November 5, 2003

Opening statements in a closely watched trial that could have major implications for Silicon Valley tech companies began Tuesday with attorneys painting dueling portraits of corporate defendant IBM. While Richard Alexander, attorney for two workers suing their former employer, portrayed IBM as a company with little regard for the health and well-being of its employees, company attorney Bob Weber argued that IBM is a model for worker safety and has aggressively worked to provide safe environments for its workers. The suit, which contends IBM hid knowledge of unsafe working conditions from employees, is the first of more than 200 similar claims to go to trial. The outcome will be closely watched by the tech industry because a ruling for the plaintiffs could set a precedent and open up a flood of similar lawsuits.

Standing Against Bias

Source: Stacy A. Teicher, Christian Science Monitor
Date: October 27, 2003

Guess the era: ? A previously coed troupe that entertains fans at sporting events runs job ads seeking "males with athletic ability and talent." ? A female employee at a home-improvement store is assigned to a cash register, despite previous experience in a lumberyard that would qualify her for a sales-floor job (the springboard for promotions). ? A woman asks her boss why men in similar jobs earn more money. His reply: They have families to support. If you said the 1960s or '70s, try again. All three incidents took place in the past 10 years. The first two resulted in payments to the affected women and agreements by the companies to try to eliminate discriminatory practices. The third stems from a lawsuit against Wal-Mart now working its way through the courts.

Lawsuit Alleges Discrimination Due to Race

Source: Associated Press, ESPN
Date: October 16, 2003

Three former Major League Baseball players who had short careers filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday against Commissioner Bud Selig, the 30 teams and the league, claiming they were wrongfully denied pension and medical benefits and discriminated against because they were white. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court named Richard Moran, 64, a former starting shortstop for the New York Mets; Ernest "Ernie" Fazio, 61, the first player ever signed by the Houston Astros franchise and Mike Colbern, 48, a Santa Monica native who played two seasons for the Chicago White Sox in the late 1970s, as the three principle plaintiffs. More than 1,000 other players are proposed members of the class. The lawsuit alleged that the vesting requirement for full comprehensive medical benefits for life and full pension benefits were changed after the 1981 eight-day players strike. The requirements were reduced from four years to one day of Major League Baseball service for medical benefits, and from four years to 43 days of service for full pension benefits. The change excluded players who played before 1980, effecting the 1,053 members of the class-action lawsuit, who were not included retroactively, according to court documents.

Korean American Flight Attendants File Bias Suit

Source: K. Connie Kang, Los Angeles Times
Date: October 17, 2003

Six flight attendants from Southern California who were laid off by Korean Air in May have sued the airline, charging that they were discriminated against because they are Korean Americans. In a Superior Court complaint filed Wednesday, the six women ? all U.S. citizens ? accuse the carrier of using the pretext of severe economic hardship to eliminate their jobs. They were part of the airline's "American regional flight attendants" group, made up of U.S. citizens or permanent residents, hired for their bilingual abilities and bicultural awareness, according to Kaylynn Kim, attorney for the plaintiffs.

Local Ex-IBMers Involved in Bias Suit

Source: Craig Wolf, Poughkeepsie Journal
Date: October 17, 2003

A group of 135 ex-IBMers have sued the company in federal court, claiming IBM Corp. laid off older workers at a higher rate than younger ones and violated laws banning age bias. Their attorney said Thursday many of the plaintiffs are from the Hudson Valley and that potentially thousands more laid-off employees around the nation in the last two years could join the suit.

Retirees Feeling Betrayed: Former IBM Workers Sue, Alleging Chemicals Caused Illness

Source: Benjamin Pimenter, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: October 13, 2003

Alida Hernandez and Jim Moore didn't know much about the emerging computer industry in Silicon Valley in the '60s and '70s. They both came from working-class families. But when they each got a job at IBM's manufacturing plant in San Jose, they realized it was a big deal. "I thought it was the greatest company to work for," said Hernandez, 73, who joined the company in 1977. "I never thought I would be hired by IBM." Moore, 62, thought he had it made when he was hired in 1966. "Back then, once you started working for Big Blue, unless you really messed up, you got a job for life. As long as you kept your nose clean and did your job, you had a future." Now, about a decade after they left Big Blue, their futures look bleak.

I.B.M. Toxic-Chemical Suit Heads to Court

Source: Laurie J. Flynn, New York Times
Date: October 13, 2003

Working in I.B.M.'s plant in San Jose, Calif., in the 1970's and 1980's, Alida Hernandez thought she had the dream job, assembling computer disk drives for what was then the most prestigious company in the electronics industry. But eventually, Ms. Hernandez said, the chemicals she worked with caused her to lose her sense of smell. "I thought it was just part of the job,'' she said. Then two years after she retired in 1991, Ms. Hernandez discovered she had breast cancer and eventually underwent a mastectomy. James Moore worked in the San Jose disk drive factory for nearly 30 years. In his first four years there, he said, he worked with chemicals that he would later learn were toxic. In 1995, he contracted a largely incurable form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma and has undergone radiation treatment. Mr. Moore, who has retired, says he sometimes has trouble breathing. Neither Mr. Moore nor Ms. Hernandez can say for certain how they contracted cancer, but both say they know one thing for sure: Through much of their working lives, they were exposed to chemicals on the job that at times made them feel sick, often landing them in the offices of I.B.M.'s on-site doctors who they say would treat them and send them back to work.

Former Infosys Employee Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against India's Leading Software Company

Source: Associated Press, Mercury News (CA)
Date: October 5, 2003

A former U.S.-based employee of Indian software giant Infosys Technologies has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the company and one of its former directors, the company said today. Jennifer Griffith, the complainant, became the second woman to accuse Phaneesh Murthy, who formerly headed Infosys operations in the United States. Murthy, who operated from Infosys' office in Fremont, quit Infosys in July last year after a former employee accused him of wrongful termination and sexual harassment. Earlier this year, Infosys paid US$3 million to settle the case out of court.

EEOC Lawsuit Claims Universal Fired Director Because of Race

Source: HRNext
Date: October 7, 2003

In a rare case against a major Hollywood studio, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles against Universal Studios for race discrimination. The suit alleges that on October 9, 2002, Universal fired Frank Davis because of his race, African American. David had been the assistant director on the recent film"2 Fast 2 Furious."

Appeals Court OKs Workplace Discrimination Arbitration

Source: David Kravets (AP), Mercury News
Date: September 30, 2003

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that employers may require applicants to arbitrate rather than litigate workplace discrimination claims as a condition of gaining employment. The 8-3 decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals places the San Francisco-based court in line with several other circuit courts of appeal. The issue stems from a 2001 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, which held that private employers could require applicants to accept arbitration as a condition of obtaining a job. But that case did not involve arbitrating civil rights disputes in the workplace as a precursor to gaining employment.

Arbitration Agreements OKd

Source: Henry Weinstein, Los Angeles Times
Date: October 1, 2003

Employers can compel workers to sign arbitration agreements surrendering their right to sue in court over race and sex discrimination, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday in San Francisco. In the 8-3 decision, the court, which considers appeals from California and eight other Western states, explicitly overturned a ruling it rendered just five years ago. Legal experts said Tuesday's decision could save employers in California and the other states millions of dollars in litigation costs and jury verdicts.

U.S. Race Bias Lawsuit Targets Teichert Inc.

Source: Melanie Payne, Sacramento Bee
Date: October 1, 2003

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, accusing Sacramento-based construction company Teichert Inc. of race discrimination. George Little, 38, of Stockton, who has worked as a journeyman operating engineer for Teichert since 1995, complained to the EEOC that he was not promoted because he is African American.

9th Circuit Tosses 'Duffield' in Dustbin

Source: Jason Hoppin, The Recorder
Date: October 1, 2003

Employers can force workers to sign arbitration agreements as a condition of employment, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday. Overturning a controversial precedent and sparking two angry dissents, an en banc panel ruled 8-3 to allow law firm Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps to require its employees to enforce their rights in private arbitration, rather than in court. That overturns Duffield v. Robertson Stephens, 144 F.3d 1182, a 1998 decision which said employers couldn't require workers to arbitrate Title VII discrimination claims. "The presumption in Duffield ? that allowing compulsory arbitration weakens the 1991 [Civil Rights] Act is inconsistent with the Supreme Court's endorsement of arbitration," Judge A. Wallace Tashima wrote for the majority.

EEOC Alleges Racial Harassment at SF Academy of Art College

Source: KPIX.com
Date: September 30, 2003

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission today filed a lawsuit against the San Francisco Academy of Art College alleging racial discrimination against African American employees. In the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the EEOC claims that courier David Banks and other African American workers were subjected to offensive racial slurs by a manager at the art college. The lawsuit alleges that Banks was terminated because of his race.

IBM Asks Court to Dismiss Cancer Suit

Source: Daniel Sorid (Reuters), FindLaw Legal News
Date: September 26, 2003

International Business Machines Corp. on Friday asked a California judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by four cancer-striken former employees who say the company knowingly subjected them to carcinogenic chemicals in their work making disk drives. But the judge, who will issue a ruling next week on the motion, challenged IBM's argument that the case was too weak to go to trial. About 250 former IBM employees have filed health-related suits against the company in three states, but the cases of the four San Jose-based workers -- one of whom has since died -- is the first to near trial.

Judge Weighs Class-Action Sex Suit against Wal-Mart

Source: Andrea Orr (Reuters), Forbes.com
Date: September 25, 2003

Lawyers for a group of female Wal-Mart Stores Inc. employees who say they were denied raises and promotions on Wednesday asked a federal judge to certify their lawsuit as a class action, a move that could add another 1.5 million plaintiffs and make it the largest sex discrimination case ever. During an all day-court hearing in federal court in San Francisco, lawyers representing the six women plaintiffs argued that the discrimination their clients experienced was part of a larger pattern that has pervaded the entire Wal-Mart corporation for decades. "Women have been paid less than men at Wal-Mart every year since 1976, in every managerial position," Brad Seligman, an attorney for the Impact Fund, part of the team representing the Wal-Mart workers, told U.S. District Court Judge Martin Jenkins.

Wal-Mart Asks Judge Not to Expand Bias Lawsuit

Source: Bloomberg News, Boston Globe
Date: September 25, 2003

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's biggest retailer, asked a judge not to broaden a discrimination lawsuit filed by six women to include as many as 1.6 million employees, saying there is no pattern of unfair treatment. Disputing lawyers for workers who say pay and promotion policies unfair to women are set by the company, Wal-Mart attorneys said store managers set nondiscriminatory salary policies. They asked US District Judge Martin Jenkins in San Francisco to force workers to try each claim separately. The case is one of several labor issues that Wal-Mart is facing, including complaints about overtime pay and attempts by labor unions to organize its workers. If the six women can bring their case on behalf of other workers, it would be the largest employment discrimination suit ever filed against a US company.

Wal-Mart Sex-Bias Lawsuit Big in Possibilities

Source: Greg Burns, Seattle Times
Date: September 24, 2003

As sex-discrimination cases go, the pending lawsuit against Wal-Mart is nothing unusual except in one respect: size. At a pivotal hearing in San Francisco today, a federal judge will consider arguments about whether the case, brought by a half-dozen individuals, should expand to a staggering 1.5 million of the retail giant's current and former employees. If U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins certifies the case as a class action, all the women who worked for the nation's largest employer between the end of 1998 and the end of 2002 could be eligible for back wages. That would make it the biggest class-action litigation involving civil rights, attorneys in the case say.

Wal-Mart Could See Class Action

Source: Stephanie Armour, USA Today
Date: September 24, 2003

Wal-Mart Stores will be in court Wednesday for a hearing to determine whether a sexual discrimination lawsuit against the retail giant will be certified as a class action covering more than 1.5 million current and former female employees. The lawsuit filed in June 2001 alleges that the world's biggest retailer discriminated against women in pay and promotions. If the case is allowed to proceed with class certification, lawyers say it would become the largest civil rights lawsuit ever, covering a class of workers as large as the population of Philadelphia. It could also have sweeping ramifications. If Wal-Mart is forced to change its pay structure, it could cause other retailers to follow. The lawsuit could cover all female employees since December 1998.

Sex-Bias Lawsuit in Sunnyvale Set For Mediation Late This Week

Source: Josh Susong, Mercury News (CA)
Date: September 22, 2003

Both sides in a sex-discrimination lawsuit against the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety will sit down this week with a mediator to try to hammer out a settlement. The department provides police and fire services for Sunnyvale. Many of the alleged offenses occurred when the four women who filed suit were going through an extensive training program that covers both fields. The meeting could bring to a close a lawsuit that alleged bias, harassment and assault -- or it could simply be a stop on the long road in federal court.

Court to Decide IBM Cancer Suit

Source: Reuters, Wired News
Date: September 23, 2003

The first of about 250 worker health lawsuits filed against IBM across the country reaches a critical juncture in a California court this month, when a judge rules on whether to let the case of four cancer-stricken former employees go to trial. The four have charged they were poisoned by chemicals while working at an IBM electronics factory in San Jose. Workers at IBM plants in Minnesota and New York have made similar claims.

Wal-Mart Faces Key Test in Discrimination Case

Source: Emily Kaiser (Reuters), Forbes
Date: September 21, 2003

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. faces a pivotal hearing this week in a sex discrimination lawsuit that could become the largest ever and force the world's biggest company to pay female employees hundreds of millions of dollars. The lawsuit, filed two years ago, accuses the largest U.S. private-sector employer of discriminating against women employees in pay, promotions and training, and retaliating against those who complained about the alleged abuse. A judge in San Francisco is expected to hear arguments Wednesday on whether to certify a class of plaintiff that could include 1.5 million current and former female employees of the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer.

Bay Area Lab Settles with Whistle-Blower for $990,000

Source: Dana Hull, Mercury News
Date: September 17, 2003

Michelle Doggett, a whistle-blower at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, spent the weekend getting ready for her trial. Instead of testifying in court, she's celebrating. Lab officials and the University of California agreed to settle her case for $990,000 -- believed to be one of the largest settlements for a whistle-blower in the Bay Area. Doggett, who graduated from Livermore High School and grew up in the lab's close-knit community, had alleged the lab retaliated against her for stepping forward in 1996 to identify financial mismanagement in her department, the lab's energy, manufacturing and transportation division.

Livermore Lab Settles Whistleblower Suit for Nearly $1M

Source: Jahna Berry, The Recorder
Date: September 17, 2003

On the eve of trial, the University of California agreed to pay nearly $1 million to a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory employee who says she was forced out after she helped uncover billing abuses. Ex-lab worker Michelle Doggett's attorney, J. Gary Gwilliam of Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer, said this case and similar lab cases have increased congressional scrutiny of UC.

Jury Awards $2 Million To Man Fired For Missing Work

Source: Associated Press, NBC4.tv
Date: September 16, 2003

A Los Angeles jury has awarded more than $2 million to a Muslim courier who was fired after missing three days of work for the birth of his child and a religious holiday. Mehmood Darjee, 38, sued Laboratory Corporation of America, alleging religious discrimination and violation of the state's Family Rights Act. Darjee was awarded $150,000 for lost wages, benefits and emotional distress, plus $2 million in punitive damages.

Jury Rejects Bias Suit by Muslim Executive

Source: Shannon Lafferty, The Recorder
Date: September 15, 2003

A federal jury returned a defense verdict Thursday in a wrongful-termination suit filed by a Lebanese-American executive who said his bosses pressured him to quit in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The seven-woman, one-man jury returned its verdict in less than two hours, deciding that former Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Vice President Walid Maghribi wasn't forced to quit after his bosses questioned him about being an Arab and Muslim at a company dinner party.

Former AMD Exec Loses Bias Suit

Source: Therese Poletti, Mercury News (CA)
Date: September 11, 2003

Advanced Micro Devices prevailed in a lawsuit Thursday that alleged the Sunnyvale chip maker discriminated against a former high-ranking Arab-American executive. On the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a jury in U.S. District Court in San Jose found that Walid Maghribi, formerly head of AMD's memory chip business, had not proved that his job had become intolerable or that AMD substantially changed his employment because of racial and religious discrimination.

Jury Finds for AMD in Discrimination Lawsuit

Source: Alex Pham, Los Angeles Times
Date: September 12, 2003

On the second anniversary of Sept. 11, a federal jury cleared chip maker Advanced Micro Devices Inc. of accusations that it forced out a Muslim employee after the terrorist attacks. Walid Maghribi, who was born in Lebanon, had alleged in a lawsuit that AMD Chairman Jerry Sanders and Chief Executive Hector Ruiz discriminated against him because of his race and religion. But after two hours of deliberations Thursday, the San Jose jury agreed with AMD's argument that Maghribi, 51, resigned voluntarily from his position as head of AMD's memory chip unit.

Former AMD Executive Takes Stand in Bias Suit

Source: Therese Poletti, Mercury News
Date: August 29, 2003

Walid Maghribi, a former high-ranking executive at Advanced Micro Devices, gave his first public testimony in his discrimination lawsuit against his former employer Thursday. In all-day testimony in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Maghribi recounted many of his conversations with AMD's two top executives, including the two encounters most central to his suit, which he filed in April 2002.

The Tussle Over Overtime

Source: Martin Wolk, MSNBC
Date: August 27, 2003

Dan Gabel is calling from the road ? again. As an Oracle Corp. trainer, Gabel figures he has been traveling on business for at least 11 of the past 12 weeks, routinely putting in 60 to 70 hours a week, and he?s tired of it. Gabel, 54, makes good money traveling the country teaching customers how to use Oracle?s database software. Including incentive pay, Oracle trainers earn from $60,000 to $100,000 a year, he said. But the long hours and time on the road have taken a toll on his health and personal life, he says, and finally this year Gabel and a colleague initiated a class-action lawsuit seeking unpaid overtime wages from the past several years. Their lawyer says the suit, covering about 500 workers, could be worth $75 million. ?I?m not complaining about my pay so much ? that?s not the issue,? Gabel said. ?The issue is the time that we?re having to work for that pay.? Gabel calculates that on an hourly basis he is making about the same wage as if he had stuck with an earlier career as a public school teacher. Gabel?s lawsuit is just one of dozens that have been filed against employers in recent years seeking unpaid overtime wages.

Ex-AMD Exec Portrayed as Greedy in Trial

Source: Therese Poletti, Mercury News (CA)
Date: August 28, 2003

Attorneys for Advanced Micro Devices portrayed Walid Maghribi -- a former top executive who is suing the company for discrimination -- as a greedy and power-hungry individual who left AMD because he was not going to make tens of millions of dollars. "This case is not about discrimination,'' said Lynne Hermle, an attorney for Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, in her opening argument in U.S. District Court in San Jose on Wednesday. ``It's about an executive who quit when he could not make tens of millions of dollars from a deal.'' Maghribi filed his lawsuit against AMD in April 2002, contending that he was forced to resign from the Sunnyvale chip maker because of intolerable working conditions. Maghribi, a Lebanese-American who was formerly president of AMD's memory-chip business, alleges that several weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, AMD's top two executives learned that he was a Muslim of Arab heritage and his career went into a tailspin shortly after.

University of California Settles With Fired Los Alamos National Lab Whistleblowers

Source: Jahna Berry, The Recorder
Date: August 22, 2003

The University of California has agreed to pay $930,000 to an investigator whose firing sparked a congressional inquiry into mismanagement at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The lab dismissed investigators Glenn Walp and Steve Doran last year after they revealed fraud and mismanagement at the UC-run national laboratory. Although the men were later rehired, the lab's action led to investigations by Congress and the Department of Energy, among others.

Big Lots Swings to Loss on Overtime Suit

Source: Associated Press, Kansas City Star
Date: August 20, 2003

Big Lots Inc., the country's largest closeout chain, Wednesday said it swung to a loss in the recent quarter, hurt by $6.4 million in charges mainly on settlement of an overtime suit in California.

Gay Couple Accuses UPS of Bias

Source: David Whelan, Contra Costa Times
Date: August 20, 2003

A gay San Francisco couple sued United Parcel Service Inc. on Tuesday in Alameda County Superior Court, claiming that the package delivery company unfairly discriminated against them because of their sexual orientation. The dispute revolves around a benefit that allows UPS managers to follow their spouses to other cities and still keep their jobs and seniority.

Clippers' Owner Sterling Named in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Source: Associated Press, Beaufort Gazette
Date: July 30, 2003

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was sued for sexual harassment Tuesday by a former employee. Sumner Davenport, a property supervisor at Sterling's Beverly Hills Properties, was fired in 2002. Her lawsuit also seeks damages for wrongful termination. Davenport said that while she worked for him, Sterling made "unwanted and offensive physical conduct" that included hugging, kissing and touching her chest.

Levi Strauss Seeks to Quash IRS Summons

Source: Sue Reisinger, The National Law Journal
Date: July 29, 2003

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service is seeking an attorney's testimony and documents in investigating allegations of improper tax accounting at San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co. It's an attorney-client privilege case with a major twist: The attorney is a terminated Levi's lawyer who is trying to give the IRS what it seeks. Mountain View, Calif.'s Fenwick & West, on behalf of Levi, has filed a petition to quash the IRS summons in U.S. district court in San Francisco. Levi Strauss & Co. v. United States of America, No. C 03 3212 MMC (N.D. Calif.).

SoCal Cook Awarded $1.97 Million in Discrimination Lawsuit

Source: Associated Press, Mercury News (CA)
Date: July 25, 2003

A jury awarded nearly $2 million to a juvenile detention center cook who maintains he suffered years of discrimination and verbal harassment on the job because he was gay. Bruce Hope, 41, sued the state in 2001, alleging that he was denied a promotion and pressured to quit because of his sexual orientation. Hope also said fellow employees at the Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility in Whittier repeatedly called him derogatory names, and that he was forced to go on medical leave after four years due to the stress.

Court Tosses Circuit City's Employee Arbitration - Again

Source: Sacramento Business Journal
Date: July 22, 2003

Circuit City's arbitration agreement that it uses to resolve labor disputes with its employees violates California's law of unconscionabilty and is unenforceable, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. It's at least the second time the court has held that the company's arbitration agreement violates state law. The latest case was brought by Paul Mantor, who worked for a Northern California Circuit City store from August 1992 until October 2000, when Circuit City fired him. The arbitration agreement, thrashed by the same court in an earlier case, still does not meet provisions of the state law even though the company tried to rewrite it, the court says.

UPS Settles With Deaf Workers in Bias Suit

Source: Lisa Girion, Los Angeles Times
Date: July 22, 2003

United Parcel Service Inc. agreed Monday to pay $10 million and improve working conditions for deaf employees to settle the nation's first class-action employment discrimination lawsuit on behalf of hearing-impaired workers. The package delivery company ? the nation's fourth-largest employer, with more than 320,000 workers ? admitted no wrongdoing in agreeing to the proposed settlement of the suit, which was filed in 1999 in federal court in San Francisco.

Deaf UPS Workers Settle Case for $10M

Source: Juliana Barbassa (AP), Washington Post
Date: July 22, 2003

Deaf employees at United Parcel Service are to receive greater access to promotions and workplace safety materials under a proposed $10 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit. The agreement - which includes $4.1 million for plaintiffs' attorneys - ends a trial of a class-action lawsuit claiming UPS, the nation's fourth-largest private employer, discriminated against more than 900 current and former hearing-impaired employees. "I'm hopeful that deaf employees will not be held back anymore," Babaranti Oloyede, one of the plaintiffs, said through an interpreter Monday after the deal was announced.

Legal Showdown Looms in Wal-Mart Discrimination Case

Source: Chuck Bartels (AP), Las Vegas Sun
Date: July 21, 2003

Six women filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. alleging the retail giant discriminated against them in pay and promotions because of their gender. But when company lawyers walk into a San Francisco federal courtroom for an upcoming hearing, they'll be trying to keep another 1.5 million women from being added to the complaint, which would make it the largest suit of its kind, ever. Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mona Williams said the company is the target of 6,649 active lawsuits but none weighs more on the company than the discrimination claim. "I would say it is the most important because of the sheer scope of it. It is No. 1 on our radar screen right now," Williams said.

U.P.S. Settles Bias Lawsuit Brought by Deaf Workers

Source: Steven Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: July 22, 2003

Lawyers for more than 1,000 current and former deaf employees at United Parcel Service yesterday announced the settlement of a discrimination lawsuit in which the company agreed to pay $10 million and to take steps to accommodate deaf workers. In the settlement in San Francisco, U.P.S. pledged to provide deaf workers with effective communications, including interpreters, for interviews, orientation, training, safety meetings and disciplinary sessions. The plaintiffs' lawyers predicted that the settlement would encourage other companies to do more to accommodate deaf employees. The settlement was announced in San Francisco, after the lawsuit had been tried for six weeks in a federal courtroom there.

Fighting for the Right to Communicate

Source: Jill Andresky Fraser, New York Times
Date: July 13, 2003

In its simplest terms, this is all about one man, one company and six e-mail messages. Oh yes, and one lawsuit, which took nearly five years to wind its way through the California court system. Yet the Intel Corporation v. Hamidi never has been all that simple. It originated in a battle against Intel, the giant semiconductor manufacturer, by Kourosh Kenneth Hamidi, known as Ken, who has spent eight years trying to rally employees at Intel, his former employer, to resist what he considers abusive workplace practices. Mr. Hamidi, who was fired by Intel in 1995 for what it terms cause, sent six e-mail messages after his departure to thousands of company employees, prompting Intel to sue him for trespassing.

EEOC Case Against Law Firm Reinstated

Source: Allison C. Altmann, The National Law Journal
Date: July 9, 2003

In a victory for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court's dismissal of a sexual harassment suit against a California law firm. The court had ordered the agency to pay the firm more than $300,000 in legal fees. In 2000, the EEOC alleged that Reeves & Associates of Pasadena, Calif., and partner Robert L. Reeves had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by sexually harassing 12 female employees. Reeves rejected an EEOC settlement offer of $1 million. U.S. District Judge Dickran Terizian, finding that the plaintiffs hadn't presented sufficient evidence for a jury to consider the case, dismissed the suit and ordered the EEOC to pay the firm $363,075 in attorney fees.

Suit Pushes for Living Wages

Source: Tyche Hendricks, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: July 7, 2003

After 12 years of sorting and folding laundry for a billion-dollar company, Francisca Amaral earns $8.20 an hour, barely enough to cover the cost of care for her two young children. Last month, in one of the first cases of its kind, Amaral, 33, of Oakland, and a co-worker filed a class-action lawsuit against Cintas Corp., a uniform rental business in Cincinnati, alleging that the company does not pay what is required under the living-wage law in Hayward, where Cintas has a city contract to clean workers' uniforms. The suit raises questions about how well the laws are being enforced in the Bay Area, especially when local governments have few staffers to monitor compliance.

Women vs. Wal-Mart

Source: Cora Daniels, Fortune
Date: July 7, 2003

During a meeting last October, Tom Coughlin, the chief of Wal-Mart's U.S. stores, looked out at a room full of division heads and top line managers and saw that something wasn't right. He rearranged the room, asking people to sit by gender and ethnicity so that they could see what he saw: a whole bunch of white men. This wasn't the first time that Coughlin had played musical chairs. He's done it at district-manager meetings, year-end meetings?enough meetings with Wal-Mart's managers that he doesn't remember all the wheres and whens anymore. The results?the sea of white men and a sprinkling of minorities and women?"hit me in the eye," he once said. "I've rearranged rooms by ethnicity or gender to try to drive home that we're not all recognizing what our opportunities are relative to finding people in the organization that better represent both the gender and the race issue." Coughlin's method of instructing his subordinates on the goal of bringing more women and minorities up from the ranks is typically Wal-Mart: Get the point across, state the objective, and then trust that managers will absorb the lesson and act accordingly. It's a method that's simple, entrepreneurial, anti-bureaucratic, and built on trust. And that may be just the problem.

Discrimination Lawsuit Filed Against SAG

Source: Roger Armbrust , Backstage
Date: July 3, 2003

Another former SAG staffer -- at least the sixth in three years -- is suing the Screen Actors Guild for wrongful termination and racial discrimination. Deborah Geter, a 20-year SAG veteran and supervisor, has filed a six-count lawsuit against the guild. Geter's 35-page complaint lists stinging accusations against several SAG executives -- primarily Leonard Chassman, SAG/Hollywood's former executive director, and Linda Shick, the guild's former national director of human resources. Geter charges Chassman with making racially offensive comments about people of color, citing the example of Chassman -- at a museum -- joking that monkeylike creatures in the trees of an exhibit appeared to be SAG employees.

Suit: Talking to Kings' Player Led to Harassment, Her Firing

Source: Kelly Johnson (Sacramento Business Journal), MSNBC.com
Date: June 30, 2003

A spokeswoman for the Sacramento Kings who was let go last autumn has sued the Kings organization, player Doug Christie and his wife, Jackie, alleging harassment and discrimination that she contends resulted from Christie's practice of avoiding contact with all women but his wife. Stephanie Shepard, who was assistant manager and later manager of media relations for the Kings over four years, accuses the team of reducing her responsibilities and eventually terminating her employment after Jackie Christie complained about her because she gave Doug Christie a phone message. The case is built on a rare set of allegations in workplace discrimination law, with an employee's family member accused, rather than a supervisor or co-worker. Her suit, filed May 27 in Sacramento County Superior Court, alleges sexual harassment, unlawful retaliation, gender discrimination, violation of civil rights, battery and infliction of emotional distress. The suit names Doug and Jackie Christie, Shepard's supervisor, Troy Hanson, Kings general manager Geoff Petrie, Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof, Maloof Sports & Entertainment and Sacramento Kings Ltd. Partnership as defendants. She seeks unspecified damages, attorney fees and costs.

Forest Service Women Seek Court Order

Source: Christina Almeida, Centre Daily (PA)
Date: June 26, 2003

Thousands of female Forest Service employees in California are asking a federal judge to hold U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman in contempt of court for failing to reduce workplace hostilities. The Forest Service, a division of the USDA, has been under a court-approved settlement since January 2002, when officials agreed to establish a three-year program to train employees and enforce women's rights in the workplace. "By the incidents that have been occurring in the last year and a half of egregious sexual harassment, workplace violence and reprisals, it's clear the agency has failed to prevent and eliminate sexual harassment," Lesa Donnelly, a former Forest Service employee and lead plaintiff in the case, said Wednesday.

Nike Free Speech Case Is Unexpectedly Returned to California

Source: Linda Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: June 27, 2003

A Supreme Court case that was widely expected to produce a landmark ruling on the free speech rights of corporations ended today with an unexpected "never mind." The justices dismissed in a one-sentence unsigned order, as "improvidently granted," Nike's appeal of a California Supreme Court decision requiring the company to stand trial on a citizen's complaint of consumer fraud and unfair trade practices for statements it had made in defense of its overseas labor policies. The term means the court changed its mind about taking the case. As a result, Nike may now have to defend itself in the California courts under a state court ruling that stripped its statements of full First Amendment protection by deeming them only commercial speech, for which there can be liability for statements demonstrated to be false or misleading. For political speech, by contrast, there can be no liability without proof of deliberate or reckless falsehood.

Appeals Court Reverses Dismissal of EEOC Suit Against Reeves Law Firm in California

Source: EEOC.gov
Date: June 25, 2003

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has reversed a lower court's dismissal of EEOC's sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against the Pasadena, Calif.-based law firm Reeves & Associates (formerly known as Robert L. Reeves & Associates) and remanded the case for further proceedings (EEOC v. Robert L. Reeves & Associates, 9th Circuit Case No. 02-56179, District Court Case No. CV-00-10515). The Ninth Circuit also overturned a rare award of attorneys' fees against the EEOC previously granted by the Federal District Court in Los Angeles.

Intel Loses Decision in E-mail Case

Source: Saul Hansell, New York Times
Date: July 1, 2003

The California Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a former employee of Intel was free to send e-mail messages to current company employees, overturning a lower court's injunction. The court rejected Intel's argument that the messages represented illegal trespassing to its computer systems. That argument is increasingly used by companies and Internet service providers in the fight against spam, or unsolicited commercial e-mail.

Calif. Supreme Court Rules Intel Can't Stop E-Mail With Trespass Law

Source: Alexei Oreskovic, The Recorder
Date: July 1, 2003

Companies besieged by unwanted e-mail can only invoke the state's trespass-to-chattels law if the messages cause actual damage to equipment or property, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday. Ruling 4-3 in a case that's been closely monitored in free speech and technology law circles, the justices said it's not enough if the unwanted messages just take time and attention away from employees. But the majority ruling, by Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, said the law could still be used against senders of spam that overloads company servers. The court stressed that the thousands of e-mails that former Intel Corp. employee Kourosh Kenneth Hamidi sent to workers' company e-mail addresses were different than the bulk spam messages that can overburden a company's computer systems.

Abercrombie & Fitch's Discrimination Woes

Source: Tamara E. Holmes, Black Enterprise
Date: June 23, 2003

A class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges that the New Albany, Ohio-based upscale clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co. discriminates against black, Hispanic, and Asian-American job applicants and employees. In the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, nine men and women say they were either fired or discouraged from working on the store's sales floors as "brand representatives" because they were minorities and didn't have the all-white Abercrombie & Fitch look. "In this instance, what's happening is happening because people are not white," says Kimberly West-Faulcon, director of the western regional office of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. LDF has joined with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, and the law firm of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein to represent the plaintiffs. Learn more: www.afjustice.com

Pizza Hut to Pay $360,000 to Settle Sexual-Harassment Case

Source: Associated Press, Miami Herald
Date: June 20, 2003

Pizza Hut will pay $360,000 to settle a sexual-harassment complaint filed by four women who said they were groped while working in a California restaurant, federal officials said Thursday. The Dallas-based company also agreed to provide anti-discrimination training and to be monitored by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for two years, the agency said. The EEOC filed a lawsuit on behalf of the former workers, charging that they were sexually harassed by a co-worker at a Pizza Hut restaurant in Diamond Bar, Calif. The harassment included sexual touching and groping, according to the complaint filed in federal district court.

Abercrombie Blasts Bias Suit

Source: Tri-Valley Herald
Date: June 19, 2003

A spokesman for Abercrombie & Fitch Co. said today that the clothing company does not discriminate and is "dismayed" by a job bias lawsuit filed yesterday in federal court in San Francisco. Corporate Communications Director Thomas Lennox said the Ohio-based company had not received a copy of the lawsuit and could not comment specifically on the case. But Lennox added, "However, as a company that prides itself on diversity, we are dismayed by the lawsuit and take this matter very seriously. Lennox said, "America is diverse and we want diversity in our stores. We do not discriminate." The U.S. District Court lawsuit was filed by nine minority individuals who contend they were denied sales jobs, denied desirable job assignments or fired because of their race or ethnicity.

9th Circuit Wrestles With ATCA Standards

Source: Jason Hoppin, The Recorder
Date: June 18, 2003

Looking past government arguments that the primary tool for vindicating overseas human rights abuses in U.S. courts should be put to rest, an en banc panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals focused instead on what standards courts should use when analyzing the Alien Tort Claims Act. In a case involving Unocal Corp.'s investment in a Myanmar natural gas pipeline project, 11 judges focused on whether the company should be held liable for the government-sanctioned use of forced labor, rape, torture and murder to help build the pipeline through rural communities that sometimes resisted its construction. Unocal argues that it had no control over that country's military. It was clear that the panel was looking past the case at bar and forward to how similar cases should proceed, if at all. A win by Unocal could curtail a growing area of litigation where human rights advocates are attempting to hold U.S. corporations accountable for their actions abroad through the ATCA.

Clothing Chain Accused of Discrimination

Source: Steven Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: June 17, 2003

Abercrombie & Fitch, the clothing retailer that appeals to the college set with blond-haired, blue-eyed models, was sued yesterday for racial discrimination, accused of favoring whites for its sales floor jobs. The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in San Francisco, charges that Abercrombie discriminates against Hispanics, Asians and blacks in its hiring as it seeks to project what the company calls the "classic American" look. Abercrombie, whose upscale casual clothes have made it one of the hottest companies for teenagers and college students, is accused of favoring whites by concentrating its hiring on certain colleges, fraternities and sororities.

For Whistle-Blowers, Virtue May Be the Only Reward

Source: Peter Pae, Los Angeles Times
Date: June 16, 2003

Richard Bagley doesn't sound like someone who just hit the jackpot. Last week, he became one of the nation's wealthiest whistle-blowers when Northrop Grumman Corp. agreed to settle a case he and the Justice Department brought against TRW Inc., and the department awarded him $27.2 million. Bagley's share of the settlement, 24.5%, is close to the maximum allowed under federal law. But he didn't pop any champagne when he learned that, after nine grueling years, he had finally won his case. "If I knew what I know now, I would not do it again," he said, slouching in a tattered armchair in his one-bedroom apartment here.

Nestle Age-Bias Verdict Upheld

Source: Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: June 14, 2003

A state appellate court upheld a $5.1 million age discrimination verdict against Nestle on Thursday for refusing to promote a manager in his 40s, and said the world's largest food company resisted promoting people older than 40. "The evidence showed it was company policy to eliminate so-called 'deadwood' and 'to promote young, energetic people in management positions,' " said the Court of Appeal panel in Los Angeles, quoting 1990 statements by a Nestle executive vice president. There was abundant evidence that the denial of a promotion to Richard Herr in February 1995, the basis of the verdict, "was just one more manifestation of Nestle's discriminatory policy of denying promotions to employees in their 40s or older," said Presiding Justice Joan Dempsey Klein in the 3-0 ruling. In a precedent-setting action, the court also upheld an injunction against Nestle under California's unfair-competition law. Among other things, the injunction requires the company to inform its 20,000 U.S. employees of the ruling and to repudiate a 1994 statement by its chief executive that favored young people as managers.

Nestle Ruling Paves Way for New Work Discrimination Cases

Source: Alexei Oreskovic, The Recorder
Date: June 16, 2003

A California state court of appeal upheld a $5 million age discrimination jury award against Nestle U.S.A. Inc. on Thursday, a ruling that opens the door for attorneys to use the state's unfair competition law in employment discrimination cases. The unanimous opinion, authored by 2nd District Justice Joan Dempsey Klein, held that injunctive relief under Business & Professions Code ? 17200 is an appropriate remedy when businesses discriminate against older workers. "An employer which practices age discrimination has an unfair competitive advantage over employers who comply with the [Fair Employment and Housing Act] because older workers frequently are more highly compensated than their younger colleagues," Klein wrote. Read It: Herr v. Nestle, U.S.A., Inc.

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