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Our Programs 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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Class Action of National Scope

David Letterman Sued By Former Intern For Violating Labor Laws, Class Action Lawsuit Seeks Backpay

Source: Barbara Herman, The International Business Times
Date: September 9, 2014

Among the top 10 reasons to work for David Letterman, it seems getting paid isn't one of them. So says Mallory Musallam, a former unpaid intern at "The Late Show With David Letterman," who has filed a class-action suit against CBS and Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants, according to the Los Angeles Times. According to Deadline, she's also suing on behalf of everyone who has ever been an intern on the show. The suit alleges that the production violated minimum-wage and overtime laws.

Wal-Mart vs. a Million Angry Women

Source: Greg Stohr, Business Week
Date: November 23, 2010

The retailer wants the Supreme Court to block a huge gender-bias suit.

Business headlines: Pizza driver suit may cover 20,000

Source: Free Press News Services, Free Press
Date: July 1, 2010

A federal judge has granted conditional class certification to a lawsuit alleging Domino's Pizza under-reimbursed its delivery drivers for automobile expenses, causing them to receive less than minimum wage.

Wal-Mart Plaintiffs Face Historic Class Challenge

Source: Women's ENews Contributors, WomensRadio.com
Date: June 30, 2010

More than one million current and former Wal-Mart female employees alleging gender discrimination stand to be certified this summer as the largest civil rights class action in history.

Wal-Mart hails court ruling on discrimination suit

Source: Reuters
Date: February 14, 2009

Wal-Mart Stores Inc praised a U.S. appeals court decision to rehear a ruling that would have allowed a sex discrimination claim against the retail giant to proceed as a class-action lawsuit. Wal-Mart had been seeking a reversal of an earlier court decision to approve class-action status for plaintiffs who claimed, in the Dukes v. Wal-Mart case, that the world's largest retailer was biased in pay

Wal-Mart hails court ruling on discrimination suit

Source: Reuters
Date: February 14, 2009

Wal-Mart Stores Inc praised a U.S. appeals court decision to rehear a ruling that would have allowed a sex discrimination claim against the retail giant to proceed as a class-action lawsuit. Wal-Mart had been seeking a reversal of an earlier court decision to approve class-action status for plaintiffs who claimed, in the Dukes v. Wal-Mart case, that the world's largest retailer was biased in pay

FedEx appeal to shield personnel data is rejected

Source: Howard Fischer, AZCentral.com
Date: September 18, 2008

A federal appeals court has rejected efforts by FedEx Corp. to shield information about its personnel records from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In a unanimous decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the federal agency is entitled to the materials as part of its investigation of whether the company discriminates against Blacks and Latinos.

Lawsuit: 'Pattern of Discrimination' at Secret Service

Source: Pierre Thomas, Talesha Reynolds, Jack Date and Theresa Cook, ABC News
Date: May 28, 2008

They are the stoic men and women of the Secret Service. Guarding presidents and dignitaries, keeping them safe, even if duty calls one of them to do as he or she is trained and step in front of a bullet. But now that pristine image is being challenged by a lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 100 current and former black agents which alleges they were discriminated against in promotions.

Workers from India sue, charging 'modern-day slavery'

Source: Associated Press, CNN.com
Date: March 11, 2008

A group of workers from India who claim they were duped into taking jobs at Gulf Coast shipyards and subjected to abusive living conditions are suing the company that hired them. A class-action lawsuit filed Friday in federal court accuses Signal International, an oil rig construction and repair company, of exploiting and defrauding more than 500 Indian nationals who worked at its facilities in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and Orange, Texas.

Ford, UAW settle lawsuit

Source: Associated Press, Business Week
Date: December 23, 2007

Ford Motor Co., two related companies and the United Auto Workers will pay $1.6 million and provide other relief to settle a race discrimination lawsuit. In a class-action suit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged that a written test used by Ford, Visteon Corp. and Automotive Components Holdings discriminated against blacks. The test was used to determine eligibility for a skilled trades apprenticeship program.

Wal-Mart sex-bias suit order adjusted

Source: Steve Painter, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Date: December 12, 2007

A federal three-judge panel on Tuesday modified its earlier decision that allowed the largest class-action sex discrimination lawsuit to proceed against Wal-Mart. The main effect of the new order, filed by the 9th Circuit U. S. Court of Appeals, is to delay Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s appeal of the court's February decision upholding a judge's class certification, according to lawyers on both sides.

Class-Action Bias Suit Against Wal-Mart Reaffirmed

Source: Reuters, New York Times
Date: December 12, 2007

Wal-Mart Stores suffered a legal setback on Tuesday in its attempt to head off the biggest sexual discrimination case in United States history when an appeals court allowed the case to remain a class-action lawsuit. The plaintiffs estimated they could win billions of dollars in lost pay and damages and that as many as two million women who have worked for Wal-Mart in its American stores since 1998 could join the suit.

Judge OKs Coughlin depositon in Wal-Mart bias suit

Source: Reuters
Date: March 1, 2007

A U.S. judge approved a request by lawyers hoping to press the biggest sexual discrimination suit in U.S. history to depose Thomas Coughlin, the former Wal-Mart board member who pleaded guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion last year. The deposition would be Coughlin's second in the Dukes v. Wal-Mart lawsuit. A federal appeals court recently ruled the lawsuit could go forward on behalf of more than a million women who work or worked at the retailer's U.S. stores in recent years.

AFL-CIO, UAW protest student labor rule

Source: Associated Press, New York Times
Date: February 26, 2007

Labor groups filed a complaint with a U.N. agency about a federal decision that graduate assistants at private universities do not have the right to form unions. The AFL-CIO and the United Auto Workers complained to the International Labor Organization, an agency of the United Nations, about a July 2004 decision by the NLRB denying teaching assistants the right to organize. The unions say that decision violates workers' rights under international labor standards. Any ILO decision on the complaint would not overturn U.S. law.

Low pay and broken promises greet guest workers

Source: Steven Greenhouse, New York Times
Date: February 28, 2007

To a rice farmer from Thailand making $500 a year, 3 years of farm work in North Carolina would pay more than 30 times as much as he earned at home. After he arrived with other Thai workers, there was only about a month's work. He was then taken to New Orleans to remove debris from a hotel damaged by Hurricane Katrina--work he says he was never paid for. This month, he and other workers filed a federal lawsuit asserting that they were victims of illegal trafficking. Labor experts say employers abuse guest workers far more than other workers because employers know they can ship them home the moment they complain.

Guild wins 'webisode' dispute

Source: Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times
Date: February 22, 2007

In a victory for the Writers Guild of America, a NLRB judge has rejected an NBC Universal complaint that the union illegally hampered the production of Web episodes of such TV shows as "The Office" and "Heroes." NBC had alleged that the guild pressured "show runners"--writer-producers who oversee shows--to refrain from overseeing the writing of "webisodes." The network contended that the work was covered under existing labor agreements, whereas the union contended that writers wanted to negotiate fair terms for the extra work. The judge ruled that there was no evidence the union "restrained or coerced" the show runners, recommending that the complaint be dismissed.

Court OKs $5 million Woodward settlement

Source: Alex Gary, Rockford Register Star
Date: February 21, 2007

A federal judge gave final approval to a $5 million settlement between Woodward Governor and its minority and female employees in [two plants]. The approval of the settlement, which was reached in October 2006, ends the litigation that began in May 2003 and resolved two class-action employment discrimination lawsuits against the aircraft engine and industrial controls manufacturer. Woodward will pay $2.4 million to eligible minority employees who worked at the [two] plants at any time since May 1999 and $2.6 million to female employees who worked at those plants since June 2002.

Ex-Wal-Mart executive must testify again in women's bias suit

Source: Margaret Cronin Fisk, Karen Gullo, Bloomberg
Date: February 15, 2007

Former Wal-Mart Vice Chairman Thomas M. Coughlin, who pleaded guilty to federal charges of stealing from the company, was ordered by a judge to testify again in a lawsuit claiming bias against women. The suit, which seeks to represent as many as 2 million current and former workers at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores, claims the company paid women less and gave them fewer promotions.

Ex-Nextel workers claim bias settlement was rigged

Source: Peter J. Sampson, North Jersey Online
Date: February 12, 2007

A group of former Nextel employees from New Jersey alleges that their former lawyers struck a sweetheart deal with the wireless communications giant to cap a settlement of their discrimination claims. The five plaintiffs are suing both the law firm and the company individually and as representatives of a larger class of at least 500 people.

Union wins Indian casino case

Source: Tony Batt, Times Record
Date: February 12, 2007

In a decision that gives unions broader authority to organize about 250,000 workers at more than 400 Indian casinos, a federal court ruled tribal gambling operations are not exempt from the National Labor Relations Act. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington denied an appeal from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in California, which argued its sovereignty was violated in 2004 when the National Labor Relations Board asserted its jurisdiction in a labor dispute at the tribe's casino.

The federal appellate decision for the plaintiffs in the sex discrimination class action against Wal-Mart

Source: Anthony J. Sebok, FindLaw
Date: February 13, 2007

In August 2004, a federal district court certified the largest class action in the history of the nation: a suit brought on behalf of 1.5--2.0 million women who have worked at Wal-Mart since 1998. In an earlier column, I wrote about the case just as Wal-Mart filed for interlocutory appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Last week, the Ninth Circuit issued its decision in the appeal--and Wal-Mart lost. In this column, I will discuss where Wal-Mart goes from here.

Zion woman wins $6 million in federal discrimination suit

Source: Chicago Tribune
Date: February 13, 2007

A federal jury awarded $6 million to a 69-year-old Zion woman who alleged age and disability discrimination and retaliation in a suit against [a company] where she had been a temporary worker for four years. The jury found that the company had discriminated because of her age and disability when it rejected her for a full-time job in 2002. The jury awarded $2.7 million in compensatory and punitive damages for the disability claim and $3.3 million for the retaliation charge.

Wal-Mart suit shows glass ceiling still an issue

Source: Mark Trumbull, Christian Science Monitor
Date: February 8, 2007

A lawsuit against [Wal-mart] is serving as a reminder that concerns about gender discrimination persist, despite four decades of focus on equal workplace rights. Wal-Mart hasn't been found guilty of sex discrimination--and it may never be, in part because class-action cases on this issue are often settled out of court. But the very fact that such a large case against the retailer has made it this far puts the issue back in the national spotlight more than at any other time in recent years. It's the proverbial glass ceiling--that studies find is the most intractable gender inequity in US industries today, despite the gains women have made since the equal-rights era.

Court rules Wal-Mart must face class-action bias suit

Source: Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: February 6, 2007

A federal appeals court upheld class-action status today for a sex-discrimination suit against Wal-Mart on behalf of 2 million female employees claiming unfair treatment in pay and promotions, the largest civil rights case in the nation's history. The 2-1 ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco was a serious blow to Wal-Mart. Rather than respond to lawsuits by 6 women with individual grievances, the company must defend its nationwide practices in a single jury trial.

Anti-fraternization policy is ruled unlawful

Source: Reuters, Los Angeles Times
Date: February 3, 2007

Employers may stop their workers from fraternizing if it's for fun but not if it's to discuss working conditions, a U.S. appeals court ruled. At issue was the meaning of "fraternize"--which can refer to mingling fraternally or romantically--and which definition fit in the context of the company's rule that employees must not "fraternize on duty or off duty, date or become overly friendly with the client's employees or with co-employees." After looking up "fraternize" in at least half a dozen dictionaries, the judges declared that "every one of these dictionaries lists fraternal association as the primary definition; social and intimate associations are secondary."

Wal-Mart to pay $33-million settlement in overtime case

Source: Abigail Goldman, Los Angeles Times
Date: January 26, 2007

Wal-Mart agreed to pay more than $33 million to tens of thousands of workers who were shortchanged on overtime wages during the last 5 years. The settlement [will] average about $386 in back pay and interest for each of the 87,000 Wal-Mart employees. The award is the second-largest case of its kind. As part of the agreement, Wal-Mart will not pay any fines or penalties. That incensed some of the company's critics.

Discrimination suit settled

Source: L.M. Sixel, Houston Chronicle
Date: January 25, 2007

[A] Manufacturing Co. has agreed to pay $2.8 million to 78 current and former Hispanic employees to settle a discrimination dispute. The dispute began when the Hispanic workers walked off the job. They contended Hispanics were paid less and didn't have the same promotion opportunities as other employees. Hispanics were segregated into lower-paying, less desirable jobs, denied transfers to better jobs and were required to speak and read English for promotions.

Award overturned in discrimination case

Source: Gina Barton, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Date: January 19, 2007

A federal appeals court has overturned a multimillion dollar damage award in a reverse discrimination case. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit upheld a jury's April 2005 verdict that [the] defendant discriminated against 17 current and former white male lieutenants when [the Milwaukee Police Chief] failed to promote them to captain. The jury had awarded nearly $2.2 million in compensatory and punitive damages to the plaintiffs. A court-appointed special master calculated economic damages, consisting of lost wages and benefits, at another $1.5 million.

A top chef's kitchen is far too hot, some workers say

Source: Kim Severson, Adam B. Ellick, New York Times
Date: January 17, 2007

Daniel Boulud can't stand to see a detail out of place. In short, he is a perfectionist who is accustomed to being liked. All of which helps explain why [he] cannot grasp why a group of restaurant-worker advocates keep showing up outside [his restaurant] with a 12-foot inflatable cockroach, singing "We Shall Overcome" and chanting that he is a racist. 7 current and former employees filed suit in Federal District Court in Manhattan accusing him of discrimination. Similar charges against Mr. Boulud are before the EEOC.

Supreme Court refuses to hear IBM pension, workplace retaliation cases

Source: Associated Press, Kansas City Star
Date: January 16, 2007

The Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal brought by a group of IBM employees who accused the company of age discrimination when it altered its pension plan. The lawsuit could have cost the company $1.4 billion. The court also declined to rule on a separate dispute between IBM and a former employee who accused the company of retaliating against him after he complained about how company managers handled overtime. In the pension case, a former IBM employee served as the lead plaintiff in a class-action suit brought on behalf of 250,000 current and former IBM workers.

Costco bias suit is given class-action status

Source: Steven Greenhouse, Michael Barbaro, New York Times
Date: January 12, 2007

A federal judge granted class-action status to a lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 700 female workers at Costco claiming that the retailer had systematically discriminated against women seeking jobs as managers. The lawsuit undercuts Costco's image as one of retailing's most benevolent companies, with generous wages and benefits that make it more attractive for employees than competitors like Wal-Mart.

African immigrants sue transportation firm, alleging bias

Source: Dan Browning, Star Tribune
Date: January 10, 2007

Nine current and former employees of a nationwide public transportation company filed suit U.S. District Court, alleging they were harassed because they are immigrants from East Africa or because of their Muslim faith. The lawsuit also alleges that a company manager read Bible passages to the employees, 7 of whom are Muslim, confiscated their prayer rugs and forced them to listen to loud Christian music. They were called names such as "stupid" and "freak show," denied time off on their religious holidays, told they made too much money for the work they performed, and told they should return to their homelands.

Skycaps at Logan sue over lost tips

Source: Sacha Pfeiffer, Boston Globe
Date: December 21, 2006

Two American Airlines skycaps have filed a class-action lawsuit against the carrier and the contract company that employs them for allegedly withholding their tip money and failing to pay them minimum wage. The accusations stem from a $2-per-bag fee that American began imposing last year on travelers who use its curbside check-in service, a charge that the airline concedes may cause tips to plummet, since few passengers offer a tip in addition to the bag fee. Yet skycaps, who traditionally have received most of their compensation from tips, don't benefit from the charge, which flows primarily to the companies with which American contracts for skycap services.

Federal court rejects ADA discrimination claim

Source: Nevada Appeal
Date: December 20, 2006

The 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco has rejected a former Nevada state worker's claim she was discriminated against in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Nancy Walsh sued saying her supervisors were aware she had been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder but made no effort to accommodate her needs. The lawsuit sought monetary damages and an injunction forcing the state to adopt and enforce policies regarding discrimination based on disability.

Dillard's to settle age discrimination case for $35 million

Source: Lance Turner, Arkansas Business Journal
Date: December 7, 2006

Department store chain Dillard's has entered a memorandum of understanding to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging age discrimination. Dillard's will settle the lawsuit for $35 million. The lawsuit comes after former participants in the Mercantile Stores Pension Plan filed complaints in 2002 and 2004 alleging amendments to the plan violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. The plaintiffs said payment calculations were discriminatory on the basis of age.

Coke boosts diversity after lawsuit, final report says

Source: Duane D. Stanford, Atlanta Journal Constitution
Date: December 1, 2006

An independent task force monitoring Coca-Cola's diversity efforts issued its final report to the court saying the company has fulfilled its legal promise to level the playing field at Coke for minorities and women. The report also came with a warning from the task force and the judge overseeing a landmark $192.5 million racial discrimination lawsuit settled by Coke six years ago: don't stop improving just because we're gone. The report closes the book on a class-action lawsuit filed in April 1999 by four African-Americans who accused Coke of denying them equal opportunity to excel at the world's largest soft drink maker because of the color of their skin.

EEOC and Chase reach $2.2 million settlement in disability discrimination claim

Source: Kansas City infoZine
Date: November 25, 2006

The U.S. EEOC and JPMorgan Chase announced the $2.2 million settlement of a claim brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against Bank One Corporation.

$3M verdict to female workers upheld on appeal

Source: Associated Press, DesMoines Register
Date: November 21, 2006

A pre-employment strength test administered to potential employees at [a] sausage-making plant is discriminatory. The U.S. Court of Appeals Eighth District also affirmed an earlier court decision awarding approximately $3.3 million for 52 female job applicants who were rejected because of the strength test.

Transgender discrimination case settled

Source: Jon Sarche, Associated Press, Houston Chronicle
Date: November 21, 2006

An industrial testing company has settled a case of alleged discrimination against a worker who claimed she was fired while preparing to undergo sex-change surgery. Terms of the settlement were confidential, but such settlements typically include a cash payment. The discrimination complaint [was filed] in April with the state Civil Rights Division. She said she was fired in July 2005 because she had recently told the company she planned to undergo gender-reassignment surgery.

Day laborers win racial lawsuit

Source: Jim Fitzgerald, Associated Press, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: November 20, 2006

A suburban village discriminated against Hispanic day laborers when it closed a hiring site and stepped up police patrols on the streets where they looked for work. The ruling could influence the treatment elsewhere of day laborers, who have become an increasingly visible symbol of the immigration issue as they solicit construction and landscaping jobs.

Homeland Security worker wins $2.5M in suit

Source: Beatrice E. Garcia, Miami Herald
Date: November 10, 2006

A former staffer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security won a $2.5 million jury verdict in a discrimination case in which he claimed the agency forced him to work in the Miami office, aggravating his medical condition. The security agency retaliated against him after he initially complained of harassment and discrimination in a previous suit and also in a complaint filed with the EEOC. He also said he was discriminated against because of a disability.

One chemical at a time

Source: Cindy Skrzycki, Washington Post
Date: November 7, 2006

An industry association, a labor union and a public health group recently settled a court case over a new standard for worker exposure to a cancer-causing chemical, hexavalent chromium. It was a rare example of agreement in worker-safety regulation. Under the settlement, the Surface Finishing Industry Council, whose members use the chemical to coat metals, agreed to move faster to improve ventilation and make other engineering changes to reduce workers' exposure levels. In return, the United Steelworkers union and an ally agreed that workers would have to wear a respirator only for certain jobs, unless they requested one.

Workers' suit highlights secrecy over 401(k) fees

Source: Eileen Ambrose, Baltimore Sun
Date: November 6, 2006

Employees at 10 of the nation's largest companies recently shook the 401(k) world by suing their employers over their plans' fees. The workers claim the employers failed to make sure the plan fees are reasonable, as required. By taking their gripes to court, they are shining a light on the various investing and administrative fees that go into a 401(k). It's a safe bet that many workers don't know how much they are paying on their 401(k)s. Workers with sharp eyes and a calculator can generally figure out what they pay by going through the prospectus and quarterly statement, but they will have little luck uncovering the soft-dollar arrangements that could affect their nest eggs.

Envelope firm settles black workers' pay bias claim

Source: Associated Press, Monterey County Herald
Date: October 24, 2006

An envelope-making firm has settled a claim by three workers who said they were underpaid because they were black. Williamhouse, a subsidiary of National Envelope, admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement, but agreed to pay the employees a total of $78,000, plus $21,500 to their attorneys. The EEOC said the black men, all shift supervisors, earned less than white counterparts who had less experience. Officials with the envelope company did not immediately return a call for comment. But in previously filed court papers, Williamhouse argued that the black men were not discriminated against and that black supervisors, as a group, received bigger raises than white counterparts.

Ex-workers sue Dallas Morning News in age claim

Source: Reuters
Date: October 25, 2006

18 former employees of the Dallas Morning News sued the daily newspaper and its parent company Belo, accusing the company of cutting their jobs because they were too old. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, said Belo terminated the employees in October 2004 as part of a workforce reduction program. They included writers, editors and artists. The lawsuit said the company told the employees that their positions were being eliminated, but they later learned that Belo replaced them with younger employees.

Employment discrimination: not always illegal for aliens

Source: Stephen H. Kahn, New York Law Journal
Date: October 26, 2006

Employment law has its own Guantanamo Bay. It is the place where U.S. businesses are permitted to discriminate against their own employees so long as the employees are not U.S. citizens and the discrimination occurs on foreign soil. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit sailed into this legal-duty free zone where employment discrimination is permitted in its just-issued decision in Ofori-Tenkorang v. American International Group, Inc..

Judge says jury must hear age bias case against Allstate

Source: Joseph B. Treaster, New York Times
Date: October 20, 2006

A federal district judge in St. Louis ruled that a jury must hear evidence on whether the Allstate Insurance Company discriminated against older insurance agents when it adopted a plan 7 years ago to cut costs and streamline the company's operations. Allstate had been arguing for years that the case was groundless and should be dismissed. In the decision,[a] Federal District said that lawyers for the EEOC had presented strong enough evidence of discrimination that "a reasonable jury could find" that Allstate violated anti-discrimination laws. The government would have to prove in court that Allstate had acted improperly. The judge did not set a date for a trial, but government lawyers said the timing of a trial could be part of a conference with both sides that he has scheduled for today.

NY must answer Sept. 11 cleanup damage claims

Source: Matthew Verrinder, Reuters
Date: October 17, 2006

Claims brought by 3,000 emergency workers who sued New York City over health damages caused from the cleanup after the Sept. 11 attacks can move forward, a U.S. federal judge ruled. The World Trade Center recovery workers sued the city, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and hundreds of city contractors in 2003. They claimed they lacked proper breathing equipment to combat the toxic air during the 10-month cleanup, and that their lungs were permanently damaged as a result.

Workers sue Santa Barbara paper over OT

Source: Associated Press, New York Times
Date: October 12, 2006

A former reporter for the embattled Santa Barbara News-Press sued the paper, claiming it failed to keep accurate time records and stiffed employees out of overtime pay. The lawsuit, seeks class-action status for as many as 200 past and present employees. The suit claims the newspaper failed to pay overtime to employees who worked more than eight hours a day or more than 40 hours a week. It also alleges the News-Press didn't provide its employees with meal and rest periods required by California law. It is common for employers to unintentionally violate California's strict employment laws, said plaintiffs' attorney Bruce Anticouni, who filed the lawsuit in Santa Barbara Superior Court. ''However, in my opinion, the alleged News-Press violations appear to have been willful, which would allow for the award of penalties to the affected employees.''

Wal-Mart loses suit on work breaks

Source: Associated Press, Los Angeles Times
Date: October 13, 2006

Wal-Mart forced employees to work through rest breaks and off the clock, violating Pennsylvania labor laws, a state jury found Thursday. The jury, however, ruled in Wal-Mart's favor on the claim that it denied workers meal breaks. The jury now must decide damages in the class-action suit, which covers as many as 187,000 current and former hourly Wal-Mart workers. Plaintiffs' lawyers say the damages could reach $162 million.

They pay but deny any guilt

Source: David Lazarus, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: October 13, 2006

What is the primary function of a class-action lawsuit? If it's to punish a company monetarily for an alleged misdeed, then the system seems to be working fairly well. But if the primary purpose of class-action suits is to hold companies accountable for their actions--and hopefully to learn from their mistakes--then the system is failing miserably in light of a key aspect of virtually all settlements: no one takes any blame. Just the opposite, in fact. Most settlements allow companies to pay out millions of dollars to their alleged victims while simultaneously denying any wrongdoing was committed. One of the latest to go down this road is Wells Fargo, which agreed to pay $12.8 million to settle a lawsuit claiming the bank unlawfully exempted as many as 4,500 workers from overtime pay by classifying them as analysts or consultants.

UPS ban on deaf drivers is rejected

Source: Lisa Girion, Los Angeles Times
Date: October 11, 2006

A federal appeals court ruled that UPS illegally discriminated against hundreds of deaf employees by barring them from driving delivery vans. The ruling could prompt employers to review their hiring policies and job requirements to make sure none of them exclude broad groups of people without a justifiable reason. Companies that fail to take such steps could find themselves vulnerable to similar suits from disabled employees. In its decision, the San Francisco-based U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2004 lower-court ruling that the company's policy of denying driving jobs to hearing-impaired employees violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. The appeals panel held that employers must justify policies or job requirements that automatically exclude a group of disabled people.

Sexual harassment alleged

Source: James McNair, Cincinnati Enquirer
Date: October 11, 2006

C.H. Robinson Worldwide, where 6,300 employees work in 203 offices worldwide. And where boys, according to two dozen suits filed throughout the country this year, could be boys. The suits filed by women who work for-or used to work for-the company allege they were subjected to a male-dominated work place where pornography, sex jokes and sexually disparaging remarks were the norm. The latest suit was filed Oct. 6 in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati.

Aerospace firm agrees to pay $5 million to settle bias suit

Source: Associated Press, Belleville News Democrat
Date: October 6, 2006

Aerospace manufacturer Woodward has agreed to pay $5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging discrimination against minority and female employees. U.S. District Judge Phillip Reinhard approved the preliminary consent decree in which the company makes no admission of guilt. In December, the EEOC accused Woodward of discriminating against women and minorities, including paying them less than their white, male co-workers. The EEOC also said minority workers were promoted less and were less often chosen for training programs. Those findings came after a three-year investigation at the company's Loves Park and Rockton outlets.

Some workers change collars

Source: Dale Russakoff, Washington Post
Date: October 4, 2006

The NLRB ruled yesterday that nurses with full-time responsibility for assigning fellow hospital workers to particular tasks are supervisors under federal labor law and thus not eligible to be represented by unions. The 3-to-2 decision, long awaited by unions and businesses, sets a new standard for determining who is a supervisor in the modern economy and could have significant implications for efforts by labor unions to organize nurses in the fast-growing health-care sector. Under federal law, supervisors do not have the right to belong to unions. The new definition could affect 8 million workers who give direction to fellow workers in fields ranging from construction to accounting.

Tyson settles discrimination charges

Source: Associated Press, Houston Chronicle
Date: September 27, 2006

Tyson Foods will pay $1.5 million to about 2,500 women and minorities to settle charges by a federal agency that the meat processing company discriminated against both groups in its hiring practices between 2002 to 2004. The alleged discrimination occurred at poultry plants in Arkansas and Oklahoma, and at a trucking operation also located in Arkansas. Besides the $1.5 million settlement, it also said it would offer jobs to some of the individuals who still want to work for the company.

Lowe's to settle class-action suit

Source: David Twiddy, Associated Press, Houston Chronicle
Date: September 22, 2006

Lowe's has agreed to settle a long-running class action lawsuit claiming the company underpaid employees. Plaintiff attorneys have estimated that the case could affect up to 75,000 current and former employees of the nation's second-largest home-improvement chain. They said terms of the deal could be released once the period for potential class members to join the settlement had ended.

IRS to pay former workers whose jobs were outsourced

Source: Stephen Barr, Washington Post
Date: September 22, 2006

Ten former mailroom employees at the Internal Revenue Service who lost their jobs because of outsourcing will receive about $4,000 each in back pay as part of a legal settlement. The settlement ends a lawsuit brought by the union in a dispute over the meaning of an appropriations bill that prohibited the IRS from turning federal work over to a contractor during much of 2004 without first conducting a public-private competition. In March, a federal judge ruled that the IRS, which did not hold a competition for the mailroom jobs, had improperly converted the jobs in the time period that had been put off-limits by Congress.

How much accommodation is necessary?

Source: Susan Smith, FedSmith
Date: September 21, 2006

A mail processing clerk with near-blindness who sued the postal service under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 for disability discrimination and failure to accommodate has lost her case in the district court. When Clayborne developed a progressive eye condition that left her almost completely blind and unable to fulfill the functions of her job, she was assigned to alternate duties. When she began to have accidents at work leading to injuries to her, she was placed on sick leave and referred to the District Reasonable Accommodation Committee. Clayborne returned to work a year later. The court found that Clayborne was not qualified for her job since she could not do the duties of her original position and because her condition "posed a direct threat to her own safety."

Sex-bias suit settled for $15M

Source: John Welbes, St. Paul Pioneer Press
Date: September 20, 2006

Former and current female employees of C.H. Robinson will share in a $15 million settlement ordered by a federal judge, ending a 4-year-old case alleging gender discrimination in pay and promotion. A total of 231 women at the Eden Prairie-based freight-service company who were part of the class-action case are expected to receive, on average, about $31,500 a piece. "I'm delighted that the claimants will see some significant awards," said Steve Sprenger, the plaintiffs' lead attorney on the case. He also cited changes in company policies that are part of the settlement. For example, the company will now prohibit client entertainment at "inappropriate venues," such as strip clubs, and won't reimburse expenses from visits to such businesses.

Day laborers' lawsuit casts spotlight on a nationwide conflict

Source: Fernanda Santos, New York Times
Date: September 17, 2006

The man, identified in court as John Doe No. 6, is one of six anonymous day laborers whose federal lawsuit could set a new national standard for the way local governments deal with the fast-growing influx of day laborers in their communities. The case accuses village officials of harassing the workers as part of a "deliberate and coordinated" campaign to drive them off the streets, and rests on the workers' 14th Amendment claim that they are discriminated against because they are Hispanic. At the start of the trial, they dropped their original First Amendment claims--that the village had violated their rights to free speech and free association--out of concern that it would force them to reveal their immigration status. The plaintiffs say they are remaining anonymous because they fear retaliation from the authorities.

Justice Department lawyers lose appeal on overtime pay

Source: Stephen Barr, Washington Post
Date: September 12, 2006

There's no dispute that Justice Department lawyers worked overtime and on holidays, and there's evidence the lawyers were "expected and induced" to work extra hours. But that's not enough to win back pay, a federal court ruled yesterday. Overtime hours must be "ordered or approved" in advance for pay purposes, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said. The ruling is the latest in a long-running class-action lawsuit involving more than 9,000 Justice Department lawyers, but it's not the end of the case. The agency lawyers, represented by Williams & Connolly LLP, will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

Company settles Katrina workers' suit

Source: Associated Press, San Francisco Chronicle
Date: September 8, 2006

A construction company specializing in disaster recovery settled a lawsuit with migrant workers who were denied overtime even though they often worked long hours cleaning up wreckage left by Hurricane Katrina. Belfor USA agreed to pay $223,000 to 163 workers who were hired by Belfor subcontractors, working 12 hours a day, seven days a week in many cases. The workers--many originally from Brazil, Mexico and Honduras--migrated from all over the country after Katrina to help with cleanup in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Under the settlement entered in U.S. District Court, roughly 2,000 workers are eligible to apply for missed overtime payments.

Federal sex-discrimination suit in Pennsauken settled

Source: Associated Press, Philadelphia Inquirer
Date: September 7, 2006

A national food distributor has agreed to pay five female employees in Pennsauken nearly $385,000 to settle a sexual-harassment lawsuit brought by the EEOC. The women worked at the Foodcrafters Distribution terminal on National Highway, where, they said, they were subjected to crude sex talk and propositions by managers and coworkers.

Suit tests ban on leave for father-athletes

Source: Kelly Whiteside, USA Today
Date: August 24, 2006

Should male college athletes be allowed time off for paternity leave? That's the crux of the argument being made by Eric Butler who was denied an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA after missing [a] season following the birth of his daughter. In the workplace, the federal FMLA gives men who work at companies with 50 employees or more the right to take up to 12 weeks of paternity leave. "I think it should be the same way as it would be in the workplace," Butler said. If eligibility is extended for child rearing, it should extend equally to men and women. If eligibility is extended because of the physical effects of pregnancy, then that obviously only applies only to female athletes.

Court orders Target to defend bias suit

Source: Bloomberg News, New York Times
Date: August 24, 2006

Target must defend an EEOC suit asserting it has racially biased hiring practices. Three plaintiffs say their resumes contained information that would have indicated their race. The fourth scored highly on a management aptitude test but received no offer. Target thus far has failed to prove that its reasons for rejecting the applicants were not merely a pretext for an improper and discriminatory decision.

Tax law ruling by court may encourage new challenges

Source: Ryan J. Donmoyer, Bloomberg
Date: August 23, 2006

A federal appeals court decision that cited the Constitution to bar the government from taxing some types of damage awards may encourage challenges to other sections of U.S. tax law. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Washington ruled yesterday the government can't collect taxes on damage awards for non-physical compensatory damages such as emotional distress or injury to reputation. The court struck down as unconstitutional a provision of a 1996 law allowing taxation of such awards.

Tyco retirement plan suit gets class action status

Source: Reuters
Date: August 16, 2006

A U.S. District judge in New Hampshire has granted class action status to participants in Tyco's retirement savings plan in a suit alleging Tyco did not provide accurate information about its accounting. The plaintiffs claim Tyco allowed the plan to invest in Tyco shares between 1998 and 2002, despite knowing the stock was a bad investment because of accounting fraud at the company. They claim Tyco misrepresented its condition to participants in its stock fund.

FBI settles sex-bias suit involving non-agents and management posts

Source: Stephen Barr, Washington Post
Date: August 16, 2006

Marijke van der Heide worked at FBI headquarters from 1982 through 1999 but could never get a promotion into a top-tier job. So she left the FBI and went to work in the administrative arm of the federal court system. Today, Van der Heide is one of about 3,000 potential members of a class-action settlement that began in 1998 when an FBI employee filed a sex-discrimination complaint on behalf of female support employees who had applied for but were not selected for administrative and managerial positions or who were deterred from applying.

IBM wins age-bias case ruling

Source: Brian Bergstein, Associated Press, Rocky Mountain News
Date: August 8, 2006

IBM did not commit age discrimination when it changed its pension coverage in the 1990s, a federal appeals court ruled Monday in an influential case that Big Blue had agreed to settle for up to $1.4 billion if it had lost. The case involved 140,000 older employees who were affected when IBM converted to a "cash-balance" plan, which gives workers virtual accounts that can be cashed out for a lump sum when they leave. The plans are designed to be more attractive to younger workers who are more likely to switch jobs. But opponents say the setup denies older workers the gains they would have gotten under traditional pension plans, in which employees amass more retirement benefits during their last years of service.

On Wall Street, a question of bias

Source: Patrick McGeehan, New York Times
Date: July 14, 2006

Wall Street has long been seen as an exclusive club, and [a] discrimination suit against Merrill [Lynch] underscores that the industry is still struggling to overcome its reputation as a workplace where only white men are comfortable. Merrill presents a diverse face to the public, whose investments it wants to manage. In reality, though, as even Merrill officials concede, black brokers at the firm are rare and successful ones are much rarer. The lawsuit against Merrill could be a watershed because so few complaints about racial discrimination at Wall Street firms are litigated in public.

Worker says employer forced him to hand over tax refund

Source: Associated Press, Los Angeles Times
Date: February 15, 2006

An Indian employee of an information technology consulting company filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging that he and other foreign workers were required to hand over their tax refunds to their employers. Starting when he came to the United States from India in 2000, Gopi Vedachalam was ordered to sign over federal and state tax refunds totaling about $25,000 to his employer, Tata America International Corp., according to the suit filed in San Francisco federal court.

Sprint ordered to provide metadata in age bias lawsuit

Source: Diane Stafford, Kansas City Star
Date: October 4, 2005

A court order in an age discrimination lawsuit against Sprint is pioneering in the realm of computerized document discovery. [A] U.S. magistrate ordered Sprint to produce "metadata" that is hidden or embedded in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets sought by plaintiffs' attorneys in the case. The plaintiffs allege a pattern and practice of age discrimination in connection with their dismissals in Sprint's reductions in force. Metadata is information about the creation, tracking and management of electronic files. Attorneys for the plaintiffs want to see the metadata to track how and when information was entered or altered. That information could be used in their arguments that age was a factor in making staff reduction decisions.

Wal-Mart to appeal status of class-action bias suit

Source: Amy Joyce, Washington Post
Date: August 6, 2005

Wal-Mart plans to ask a federal appeals court on Monday to overturn a ruling that would allow up to 1.6 million female workers, as a group, to seek compensation for discrimination. The lawsuit claims that Wal-Mart's female employees receive lower pay and fewer promotions than male employees. But Wal-Mart's lawyers argue that there is no pattern of discrimination and that certifying the suit as a class action would allow women who have not suffered from discrimination to benefit. If Wal-Mart does not persuade the judges to overturn the class-action certification, the pressure on the company to discuss settling the charges could increase.

Wal-Mart's bid to void suit calls it too big

Source: Molly Selvin, Los Angeles Times
Date: August 1, 2005

The world's biggest retailer hopes to derail history's biggest private civil-rights case next week by arguing before a federal appellate panel that a massive gender-discrimination suit against Wal-Mart is too big. The suit accuses Wal-Mart of systematically favoring men over women in pay and promotion. An appeals court ruling that backs turning the case into a class action affecting as many as 1.5 million women not only would put billions of dollars at stake but also would set up a battle that both sides say would mean a lot for other employers and employees. Regardless of who wins at next week's circuit court hearing, lawyers for both sides say an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is likely.

$80 million settles race-bias case

Source: Annys Shin, Washington Post
Date: April 28, 2005

Sodexho Inc., the food and facilities-management company, agreed Wednesday to pay $80 million to settle a lawsuit that claimed it systematically denied promotions to 3,400 black mid-level managers. The company also agreed to widespread training and a more structured hiring process for its 106,000 employees throughout the country, in an effort to promote more minorities into higher corporate jobs. A panel appointed by the plaintiffs and the company will monitor Sodexho's compliance. Sodexho officials said they have already implemented many of the remedies included in the settlement, such as tying bonuses for top executives to the company's progress toward workforce diversity goals.

Social Security faces another discrimination suit

Source: Melissa Harris, Baltimore Sun
Date: March 25, 2005

About 110 black women have formed a group supporting a class-action lawsuit alleging discrimination at Social Security Administration headquarters in Woodlawn. The women's suit began less than a year after Social Security announced a $7.75 million settlement in a similar discrimination case involving nearly all of the black men employed at the agency's headquarters between 1987 and 2002.

Gender-Bias Victories Pay More than Money

Source: Gretchen Cook, Women's E-News
Date: December 20, 2004

Gender-bias suits enjoyed a banner year in 2004 despite an increasingly unfriendly legal and political climate. Successful litigants, lawyers say, often measure victory more in terms of boosted confidence than dollars. Looking back on it, 2004 was a banner year for gender-bias suits as U.S. female employees brought actions against some of the biggest companies in the world.

Wal-Mart seeks to get class status overturned

Source: Lisa Girion, Los Angeles Times
Date: November 30, 2004

Wal-Mart asked a federal appeals court Monday to throw out a lower court ruling approving the largest employment class-action lawsuit in history, filed on behalf of as many as 1.5 million women. The discount retailer urged the appeals court in San Francisco to remove class-action status for the suit, which seeks billions of dollars in back pay for alleged discrimination. In its 61-page appeal, Wal-Mart argues that U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins improperly ignored a study by experts for the company that showed no disparity in pay or promotions between men and women in 90% of its 3,400 stores in the U.S. Lawyers for the plaintiffs have until Dec. 29 to file a response. The appeals court is expected to hear oral arguments in the first half of next year.

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