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Court Cases in the News

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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Chipotle workers say they work extra hours for no pay

Source: Ben Rooney, ABC
Date: October 30, 2014

The class-action lawsuits filed in Colorado and Minnesota in the last two months allege that Chipotle routinely requires its hourly employees to work "off the clock" without pay.

Colorado high court considers pot firing case

Source: Associated Press, The Washington Post
Date: September 30, 2014

Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic medical marijuana patient who was fired by the Dish Network after failing a drug test more than four years ago, says he still can't find steady work because employers are wary of his off-duty smoking.

Meatpacking Plants Accused of Harassing Muslims

Source: AP, New York Times
Date: September 1, 2010

Federal officials say Somali Muslim workers were denied prayer time and faced harassment and firings at meatpacking plants owned by JBS Swift & Company in Colorado and Nebraska.

Workplace Bias Complaints Soar in Colorado Region

Source: Miles Moffeit, Denver Post
Date: March 29, 2010

Complaints of discrimination in the workplace have climbed more than 50 percent in the Colorado region in the past year, starkly outpacing national trends, records show.

Gravel Firm to Pay $498K in Sex Discrimination Case

Source: Katharhynn Heidelberg, Montrose Daily Press
Date: February 25, 2010

A Western Slope sand and gravel company must pay nearly a half million dollars to three former employees to settle sexual discrimination and retaliation complaints.

Ralph Schomp Automotive to Pay $1.5 Million to Settle EEOC Bias Case

Source: Renee McGaw, Denver Business Journal
Date: January 8, 2010

Arapahoe Motors Inc., doing business as Ralph Schomp Automotive, has agreed to pay to settle a sex and age discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced on Thursday.

Feds award $1.2 mil in age-discrimination lawsuit

Source: Bruce Finley, Denver Post
Date: November 28, 2006

A federal judge has ordered Denver to pay $1.2 million to a veteran firefighter wrongfully dismissed in a case of age discrimination and firehouse malice. There certainly was sufficient evidence presented at a jury trial supporting the verdict that city officials willfully violated federal age discrimination laws in firing [him] and then refusing to give retirement benefits. [He] is entitled to his job back if he wants.

Worker wins transgender bias case

Source: Jon Sarche, Associated Press, Washington Post
Date: September 15, 2006

A woman who was fired while preparing to undergo sex-change surgery was let go in violation of state anti-discrimination law, the head of Colorado's civil rights agency has ruled. Advocates praised the ruling, saying it was the first of its kind in Colorado and a sign that society has begun to better understand transgender people.

EEOC files harassment suit

Source: Alicia Caldwell, Denver Post
Date: September 30, 2005

A former employee at the Denver Federal Center says her boss raped her twice and threatened her if she reported the assaults in what a government investigator called an "egregious" sexual-harassment case. The EEOC filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against Acepex Management Corp., a government contractor, saying the company knew about its manager's activities and failed to stop them. The day after the government's investigation concluded, Acepex forced the woman, a single mother, to change shifts, making it impossible for her to drive her son to school and report to work on time. She was disciplined and ultimately fired for tardiness.

Jury awards $8 million to man denied job because of blindness

Source: Associated Press, Denver Channel
Date: May 7, 2005

A federal jury awarded a 36-year-old blind man who was denied a job by EchoStar Communications because of his blindness $8 million. Because of a cap on civil rights damages, Dale Alton, of Lakewood [Colorado], will get no more than $300,000, plus $7,000 in lost wages. EchoStar said it plans to file an appeal. Some jurors wanted to award Alton as much as $30 million because the evidence against the satellite-TV company was so damning, said jury foreman Doug Auger. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission brought Alton's 1999 lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The suit asked for $100,000 in compensatory damages.

Office Depot settles OT suit for $3.3M

Source: Associated Press, Forbes
Date: March 22, 2005

Office Depot settled a 2-year-old class-action lawsuit on overtime for $3.3 million just before it was to go to trial, the plaintiffs' attorneys said. The lawsuit claimed that the Delray Beach, Fla.-based company had misclassified more than 100 Colorado workers as assistant managers to avoid paying them overtime. The company had argued that the Class Action Fairness Act, signed by President Bush on Feb. 18, put the case under federal jurisdiction. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a decision by U.S. District Judge Marsha Krieger leaving the case in state court. Krieger had said transferring class-action lawsuits filed in state courts before Feb. 18 would cause a "sudden tidal wave of filings on an already burdened federal judiciary."

Wal-Mart wins appeal in overtime ruling

Source: Associated Press, FindLaw
Date: February 2, 2005

Wal-Mart will get another chance to argue its case that it shouldn't have to pay millions of dollars in overtime to pharmacists after winning its appeal. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new hearing in the case, saying a federal judge that ruled the company had violated the law by failing to pay the overtime acted too quickly and should reconsider the evidence. Pharmacists argued that the retailing giant adjusted their salary and hours so often that they were in fact hourly employees eligible for time-and-a-half pay for overtime. Wal-Mart argued that the trial judge should have heard evidence about U.S. Department of Labor rulings that companies can adjust salaried employees' pay if economic conditions warrant.

EEOC asks for claims in settlement

Source: Greg Griffin, Denver Post
Date: January 27, 2005

Much of a $2.35 million job-discrimination settlement reached with a Denver window manufacturer last year remains unclaimed, federal officials said Wednesday. Those eligible for up to $20,000 payments are black job applicants who were rejected for work at Milgard Windows' east Denver factory between Jan. 1, 1997, and May 19, 2004. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission estimates there were 250 such applicants but has heard from only 32. The deadline for submitting claims is April 1.

Wal-Mart seeks new hearing on OT

Source: Associated Press, Denver Post
Date: September 30, 2004

A ruling that could cost Wal-Mart millions of dollars in overtime pay should be reconsidered because the judge didn't hear all the evidence, attorneys for the retail giant told an appeals court Wednesday in Denver. Wal-Mart asked the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to order a new hearing in the case after a federal judge said the company had violated the law by refusing to pay overtime to pharmacists. Denver federal court Judge Zita Weinshienk ruled in 1999 that Wal-Mart violated federal law by classifying pharmacists as salaried employees who were ineligible for overtime, instead of hourly workers entitled to time-and-a-half pay for overtime.

Club employee awarded $1.5 million in age case

Source: Billings Gazette
Date: September 2, 2004

A judge has ordered the Pueblo [Colorado] Country Club to pay $1.5 million for discriminating against an employee because of his age. U.S. District Judge Wiley Daniel issued the order last week in favor of Arcenio Garcia, who was golf course superintendent. The club replaced Garcia, then 58, in 1998 with a 41-year-old man. Daniel added $167,781 to Garcia's award to cover income taxes he is expected to owe because the judge ordered the club to pay for Garcia's attorney's fees. The money is called a tax enhancement. The Internal Revenue Service taxes plaintiffs who win lawsuits on the fees awarded to their attorneys, although the payment goes directly to the attorneys. To offset that income tax on Garcia, the judge said the tax enhancement was necessary to provide equitable relief.

Swift workers file discrimination suit

Source: Associated Press, Denver Post
Date: June 25, 2004

Six workers at Swift + Co.'s meatpacking plant have filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the company, charging that managers refused to let them continue with light duty jobs even though they had suffered on-the-job injuries. They claim Swift changed the policy on light duty assignments, such as pick fat and pick bone jobs, and made them temporary, six-month assignments. After that time, they claim, workers who couldn't perform regular duties were placed on medical leave and terminated if they couldn't return to work within 18 months. The workers who lost their jobs want their positions back and are also seeking back wages and benefits.

Ten Mexican immigrants receive $600,000 settlement over claims of on-the-job slurs

Source: Associated Press, San Diego Union-Tribune
Date: June 2, 2004

Ten Mexican immigrants who alleged they faced daily ethnic insults on the job won a $600,000 settlement of their discrimination lawsuit. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission disclosed the settlement Tuesday for the former workers at Phase 2 Co., a drywall and steel framing contractor. The men alleged they faced regular slurs when they worked at the University of Colorado Hospital's Fitzsimons campus in 1999 and 2000.

Man Wins Discrimination Suit Against AT and T

Source: Associated Press, Boston Globe
Date: April 6, 2004

A federal judge has awarded nearly $150,000 to a Denver-area man fired by AT and T Broadband for refusing to sign a diversity policy requiring him to "value" the beliefs of others, including gays. Albert Buonanno, 47, said he is a Christian and loves all people regardless of their lifestyle. "But I cannot value homosexuality and any different religious beliefs," Buonanno said Monday, after the ruling was made public. "I think AT and T should be able to expect certain behavior from people, but not force their beliefs on people." Buonanno was fired in 2001 from his $44,261-a-year job as a dispatcher and quota specialist. He sued, claiming he had been discriminated against based on his religious beliefs.

United to Pay in Sex-Bias Suit

Source: Associated Press, Rocky Mountain News
Date: February 13, 2004

A judge ordered United Airlines to pay $36.5 million to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit brought by 13 former flight attendants over the airline's weight policy. The original settlement in the case was suspended in 2002 when United filed for bankruptcy. A judge reinstated the settlement Wednesday.

Lawsuit Vs. Pinnacle On Hold

Source: John Accola, Rocky Mountain News
Date: January 21, 2004

A discrimination lawsuit alleging male workers were fired in a "gay purge" at Denver's posh Pinnacle Club is on hold following the private club's bankruptcy last week. "We're kind of caught between a rock and a hard place," said Cecilia Serna, the plaintiff group's lead attorney. Serna's Frickey Law Firm is representing all six plaintiffs, including the club's former sales director, operations manager, banquet server and restaurant captain. The lawsuit appears to be the first in Colorado in which a group of openly gay workers has used sexual orientation as a basis for a sexual discrimination charge, Serna said. The complaint against the 56- year-old downtown club - formerly the Denver Petroleum Club and one of the city's bastions for oil barons - alleges the plaintiffs were illegally fired in November 2002 because of their sexual orientation and gay mannerisms.

U.S. Postal Service Settles Largest Disability Employment Class Action Ever

Source: GloverClass.com
Date: December 17, 2003

Under a class action settlement, 25,000 current and former postal workers are eligible for damage awards of up to $25,000 each. The case, Glover/Albrecht v. Potter, involved denial of promotion and advancement opportunities to U.S. Postal Service employees with workplace disabilities who had been placed in dead end "rehabilitation" positions. Employees who had work-place injuries that resulted in a work restriction were placed in such positions. The case alleged that rehabilitation workers were not considered for promotions, awards, favorable job assignments and training. All rehabilitation employees at the Postal Service throughout the United States since January 1, 1992 who were denied promotion and advancement opportunities are in the class. There have been more than 25,000 rehabilitation employees since 1992, making this by far the largest disability discrimination employment class action ever settled. The settlement ensures equal promotion opportunities and sets up a stream-lined claims process in which class members may seek up to $25,000 in back pay and emotional distress damages, depending on the year a promotion was denied.

Boulder Settles Suit Over Bias, Groping

Source: Marcos Mocine-McQueen, Denver Post
Date: December 10, 2003

Boulder County announced Tuesday that it has approved a settlement with four former juvenile detention center employees who said they had suffered sexual harassment and racial discrimination. The settlements, the largest of which was $117,730 awarded to Keisha Johnson, resulted from a suit filed in federal court in January. The complaint alleged that supervisors groped employees, made disparaging and graphic sexual comments about male and female employees, made a racist comment in a meeting, started rumors about an employee, and regularly passed over qualified minorities when giving promotions.

Nextel Workers Allege Betrayal

Source: Tom McGhee, Denver Post
Date: November 30, 2003

Doris Brewer thought she and a number of other Nextel Communications workers had a big financial reward coming when lawyers announced an agreement to settle their discrimination complaint. Now, she and other current and former Nextel employees are fighting a legal battle against Leeds Morelli & Brown, the New York law firm they claim sold them out in a sweetheart deal with the wireless giant.

Scalia Goes Public in Blast at Court on Race Preferences

Source: Anne Gearan (AP), Chicago Sun Times
Date: November 18, 2003

Justice Antonin Scalia accused fellow Supreme Court justices of going soft on affirmative action, saying Monday the court is abandoning its own strict rules for when government may treat one race differently from another. Fresh off last session's divisive case allowing affirmative action in college admissions, Scalia issued an unusual dissent in a case involving racial preferences in the awarding of government contracts. A special program for minority businesses in Denver plainly does not meet the test the Supreme Court has set for such programs, and the court should have said so, Scalia wrote. Most of the justices voted not to hear the Denver dispute, meaning a lower court ruling in the city's favor will stand. Scalia's written objection broke the ordinary silence that surrounds the court's choices about which cases to hear.

Farmworkers Sue Labor Contractor over Wages

Source: Associated Press, Casper Star Tribune
Date: October 3, 2003

Farmworkers have filed two lawsuits alleging a woman pocketed thousands of dollars of their pay after contracting with them to work on northern Colorado farms. The lawsuits filed in Denver federal court allege Lydia Soto collected the workers' pay from the farm operators but failed to pass it on to the workers. The farmers later paid the workers, said Robert Shikiar, an attorney for Colorado Legal Services, which is representing the workers in both cases.

Denver Mint Racks Up Complaints of Job Bias

Source: Ann Imse, Rocky Mountain News
Date: September 24, 2003

In the past five years, 102 formal complaints of job discrimination have been filed against the Denver Mint - triple the number at its slightly larger sister mint in Philadelphia. The 102 complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission amount to one for every five employees at the Denver Mint, which manufactures coins in an imposing granite building downtown. Some people filed more than once, a U.S. Mint spokeswoman said.

Denver Mint Employee Sues for Harassment

Source: Associated Press, Tuscaloosa News
Date: August 13, 2003

A second woman has sued the U.S. Treasury alleging she was sexually harassed while working at the Denver Mint, which has been under scrutiny for alleged discrimination against female employees. Dawn Richardson claims she was subjected to a pattern of sexual discrimination and forced to work in a hostile environment. Her lawsuit, filed Tuesday, also accuses her supervisor, Louis Woodward, of sexual harassment. Former mint employee April Garcia filed a similar lawsuit earlier this month, alleging she was subjected to repeated sexual and racial harassment from male co-workers and supervisors. She also claimed Woodward physically assaulted her.

EEOC Alleges Racial Bias Against News

Source: John Accola, Rocky Mountain News
Date: July 31, 2003

A discrimination lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges a black pressman at the Rocky Mountain News was repeatedly subjected to crude racial slurs by a white co-worker. The civil suit, filed late Wednesday in Denver federal court, names both the News and the Denver Newspaper Agency as defendants. It alleges the defendants, starting with the News in 1999, failed to take action against the unnamed white pressman despite complaints from other employees.

Deejay Moore Sues KOOL, Claims Age Bias in Firing

Source: Tom McGhee, Denver Post
Date: July 22, 2003

Denver radio personality Harold "Hal" Moore claims that KXKL-FM, also known as KOOL 105, recruited him to jockey a drive-time radio show and then fired him because of his age. The station removed the now 63-year-old Moore from the "Hal and The Coach Morning Show" in 2002 with little warning, Moore said in a suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Denver. Moore's suit claims the only criticism of his performance came in two e-mails from Al Brady Law, "the relatively new program director, related to plaintiff's purported lack of energy."

Casino Agrees to Settlement with Workers Banned From Speaking Spanish

Source: Associated Press, Casper Star-Tribune
Date: July 18, 2003

The owner of a large casino has agreed to pay more than $1.5 million to 36 former housekeepers who claimed they were ordered not to speak Spanish on the job, even among themselves. Managers at the Colorado Central Station casino, owned until April by Nevada-based Anchor Coin, required employees to sign statements indicating they would speak only English while working. The workers' complaint alleged the policy violated anti-discrimination laws. Workers were told they could be disciplined if they violated the policy, even though the company knew many of them spoke no English when they were hired, said Evangelina Hernandez, a lawyer for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which represented many of the workers.

DIA Ex-Manager Sues Over Demotion, Claims Bias

Source: Howard Pankratz, Denver Post
Date: July 2, 2003

The former deputy manager of aviation for marketing/government affairs at Denver International Airport filed suit Tuesday, alleging that she was demoted because of age and gender discrimination. Amy Bourgeron asked Denver District Judge Herbert Stern to restore her to her position as soon as possible. She is seeking a temporary restraining order against the Denver Career Service Board, claiming the demotion may result in a loss of reputation on a local, national and international scale and loss of job opportunity elsewhere in the aviation industry.

Women Say Complaints about Mint Long Ignored

Source: Jim Hughes, Denver Post
Date: June 16, 2003

Reports of openly displayed pornography, unwanted sexual advances and sexual discrimination flared at the U.S. Mint in Denver last week, but they were not new. Women who complained of being treated badly at the federal coin factory have left a paper trail across Denver. An unpublicized number of complaints are on file at the Mint itself, according to employees and union officials. There is more of the same at the local office of the American Federation of Government Employees, they say.

Women Complain of Sexual Harassment at U.S. Mint

Source: Samantha Xu, Women's E-News
Date: June 14, 2003

Many female employees at the U.S. Mint in Denver claim they have endured unfair treatment in promotions and raises, sexual harassment, sexual propositions, smut on walls and lockers and offensive sexual e-mails, reported the Rocky Mountain News. Thirty-two women, nearly a third of the 107 female employees working at the Denver Mint, filed a class complaint with the U.S. Treasury Department last month. The complaint does not seek punitive damages. The women are seeking a court order for the Mint to stop the discrimination and to change their complaint handling practices, said Lynn Feiger, the group's attorney. The formal complaint comes after years of the women petitioning to higher authorities within the U.S. Mint and seeing little progress from Mint officials in ending the alleged discrimination and harassment.

Women at Mint Claim Job Bias

Source: Jim Hughes, Denver Post
Date: June 11, 2003

A group of female employees at the U.S. Mint in Denver has filed a class-action complaint with the Treasury Department, accusing managers at the Mint of fomenting a "hostile gender- based work environment." The complaint describes the Mint as a place where women are kept from advancement, solicited for sex by their managers and co-workers, subjected to pornography, and physically threatened and assaulted. They frequently are told they work there only because of quotas - that they belong "at home doing housework," the complaint says.

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