A state-by-state review of court cases pertaining to workplace rights.
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Source: Scott Munsell, KATV Arkansas
Date: June 16, 2010
A Starbucks store in Russellville will pay $80,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency announced Tuesday. The EEOC's suit charged that Starbucks failed to hire Chuck Hannay because of his multiple sclerosis.
An Arkansas tree-planting company has agreed to pay $2.75 million to settle a lawsuit in which foreign guest workers accused it of often paying less than the minimum wage and not paying for all hours worked.
Source: Charlie Frago, Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Date: March 20, 2008
The Arkansas Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that a former Wal-Mart employee wasn't wrongfully terminated after he reported inhumane workplace conditions at Costa Rican suppliers.
Source: Ron Wood, Morning News
Date: May 27, 2006
[Former University of Arkansas basketball coach] Nolan Richardson was not fired for being an outspoken black man, a federal appeals court ruled Friday. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Richardson's appeal of his racial discrimination and free speech lawsuit, saying evidence supports the conclusion university officials decided to fire Richardson a day prior to a nationally televised outburst many thought contained racial overtones and a day after he said the school could buy out his contract. Richardson could still petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case on appeal but the odds are heavily stacked against the high court deciding to accept the case.
Source: Reuters, Los Angeles Times
Date: February 1, 2006
Former Wal-Mart Vice Chairman Tom Coughlin pleaded guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion Tuesday, admitting that he stole thousands of dollars from the world's biggest retailer to upgrade his truck, pay for hunting rights and buy beer. Coughlin, who joined Wal-Mart in 1978 and worked closely with legendary founder Sam Walton, faces as many as 28 years in prison and $1.35 million in fines. Sentencing will be set at a later date. Judge Robert Dawson ordered the 14-page plea agreement placed under seal, saying he was "concerned, deeply concerned" about pretrial publicity in the case. Coughlin, who was released on his own recognizance, drove off in a black SUV without comment.
Source: James Jefferson, Arkansas
Date: January 20, 2006
A federal appeals court reinstated a lawsuit against Wal-Mart by employees challenging the legality of the world's largest retailer's policy to exclude union members from some employment benefit plans. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a July 2003 decision by a federal judge in the Western District of Arkansas, Wal-Mart's home base, who dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction. The appeals court ordered further proceedings on the employees' claims that, among other things, the union exclusion clause improperly led employees to believe that they would lose their benefits if they chose to unionize.
Source: Steven Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: July 1, 2005
A former Wal-Mart executive responsible for inspecting apparel factories in Central America has sued the company, accusing it of firing him for being too aggressive about finding workplace violations, like locked exits and mandatory 24-hour shifts. In a lawsuit filed two weeks ago in state court in Arkansas, where Wal-Mart is based and Mr. Lynn lives, he asserted that he was terminated in 2002 "for truthfully reporting the abysmal working conditions in Central American factories utilized by Wal-Mart and for refusing to comply with Wal-Mart's demand that he certify factories in order to get Wal-Mart's goods to market."
Source: Associated Press, San Jose
Date: September 23, 2004
A federal lawsuit alleges Wal-Mart Stores Inc. discriminates against blacks seeking truck-driving jobs, a contention the world's largest retailer denies. The suit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Little Rock, alleges that Wal-Mart rejects and discourages black applicants for truck-driving jobs at the chain's distribution centers in 12 Southern states. An EEOC document attached to the complaint found "reasonable cause" to believe the [plaintiff] was discriminated against.
Source: Associated Press, New York
Date: September 23, 2004
Wal-Mart has been sued in federal court by a man who claims the world's largest retailer discriminates against blacks in 12 Southern states from seeking truck-driving jobs. An Equal Employment Opportunity Commission document attached to the complaint found "reasonable cause" to believe [the plaintiff] was discriminated against. The suit, filed Wednesday, seeks class-action status.
Source: Associated Press, Los Angeles Daily
Date: July 8, 2004
A federal judge Thursday dismissed Nolan Richardson's $8 million race discrimination lawsuit against the University of Arkansas but said he understood why the fired basketball coach felt the way he did. Wilson ruled that Richardson was fired because of comments he made after a February 2002 loss at Kentucky that the university could buy out his contract, not because of his race or comments the ex-coach made about race. Richardson was fired March 1, 2002, after he said he would leave the university if it would buy out the remainder of contract. Arkansas administrators say the remark indicated Richardson had lost faith in his program. He filed suit claiming he was fired because he is black and that his free-speech rights were violated. The university contended it fired Richardson because his public comments damaged the basketball program.
Source: Armando Rios, Baxter Bulletin
Date: June 23, 2004
An Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit filed by former Mountain Home [Arkansas] Police Officer Bob Stewart against the City of Mountain Home was settled Tuesday morning when attorneys for both sides agreed on a $95,000 settlement and changing Stewart's employment record to state that he resigned instead of having been fired. Stewart was fired shortly after Mayor Ed House took office in January 2003. In October, Stewart sued the city for discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Stewart had been employed part-time by the city for four years. He had polio as a child and walks with what he describes as a gait.
Source: Associated Press, FindLaw Legal
Date: October 29, 2003
A truck driver fired from his soft-drink delivery job deserves unemployment benefits because his propensity for fender-benders didn't amount to misconduct, the state Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday. At most, driver Bill Clark Jr. could not safely back up his truck without running into something, the appeals court concluded. The decision overrules an earlier finding by the Arkansas Board of Review and Employment Security Department.
Source: Associated Press, Stamford Advocate
Date: October 10, 2003
International Paper Co. will pay a total of $410,000 to six former employees who had alleged age discrimination as part of a consent decree entered Friday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC said the award will be presented to the six claimants in the form of retirement benefits and back pay. The consent decree ends an EEOC lawsuit alleging that International Paper violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 when it failed to hire older job applicants at its facility in Pine Bluff, Ark.
Source: Morning News (AR)
Date: August 15, 2003
A Bentonville [AR] man has sued the U.S. Postal Service alleging he was denied a job and later retaliated against because of his gender and because he has reported discrimination in the past. Michael G. Turner filed suit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Fayetteville claiming he was skipped over for promotion to customer service supervisor even though he was more qualified than the woman who was given the job. Turner also claims he was denied the position in retaliation for his 1987 Equal Employment Opportunity "activity."
Source: James Jefferson (AP), FindLaw Legal
Date: July 3, 2003
The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday overturned a trespassing decision that barred a labor union from soliciting for members at Wal-Mart or Sam's Club stores nationwide. The court ruled that the world's largest retailer failed to show irreparable harm from solicitations by members of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. Wal-Mart, which has waged battles against unions across the country, filed suit in 1999 after the UFCW sent representatives to about 300 Supercenters around the nation. Wal-Mart claimed organizers were trespassing and harassing workers, among other things. A Fort Smith judge in 2002 granted a permanent injunction prohibiting the union from soliciting in Wal-Mart, Sam's Clubs and Neighborhood Market grocery stores in Fort Smith and across the United States.
Source: Ron Wood, Fayetteville Morning News
Date: June 26, 2003
A former University of Arkansas professor has appealed a federal judge's decision to overrule a jury verdict and throw out her civil rights lawsuit against the school and its administrators. Gwenn Okruhlik sued the university over alleged discrimination in the Middle Eastern Studies Program. According to her suit, the university fired Okruhlik after she complained about the administration of the program and about what she felt was discrimination against herself and other women in the department. A federal court jury ruled last November that the university did not discriminate against Okruhlik because of her gender but found that former dean Randall Woods was liable for retaliating against Okruhlik after she exercised her First Amendment rights.