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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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Ohio

Owners of Mexican restaurants sentenced to prison for hiring undocumented workers and paying substandard wages

Source: Eric Heisig, Cleveland
Date: May 5, 2015

AKRON, Ohio - The owner of a chain of Mexican restaurants in Summit and Stark counties was sentenced Monday to 33 months in federal prison for hiring undocumented workers and paying them less than minimum wage. The owner's wife was sentenced to three months. Miguel Castro, 46, of Uniontown, had the controlling interest in the seven "Mariachi Locos" and "Mariachi Cocos" restaurants in Akron, Stow, Tallmadge and North Canton. His wife, Monica, was also part owner, and all but one are now closed.

Ohio settles lawsuit over workers' comp overcharging

Source: Mark Williams, The Columbus Dispatch
Date: July 24, 2014

The state agreed to create a $420 million fund to pay claims to employers -- many of them small businesses -- that had sued over the premiums. The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation and a group called Pay Us Back Ohio BWC announced the agreement.

Former Anheuser-Busch Workers Win Enhanced Pension Benefits After Subsidiary Sale

Source: Matt Dunning, BusinessInsurance.com
Date: July 15, 2014

In a unanimous decision handed down on Thursday, a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati said pension plan administrators for Anheuser-Busch Companies applied an "arbitrary and capricious" standard in denying a group of former employees' claims for enhanced benefits.

Hyundai Ideal Electric Company to Pay $188,000 to Settle EEOC Sex Bias and Retaliation Suit

Source: EEOC
Date: May 12, 2011

Hyundai Ideal Electric Company (HIEC), located in Mansfield, Ohio, will pay $188,000 to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

Temp Agency Pays $650K to Settle EEOC Suit Claiming 'Cupcake' Wasn't a Dessert

Source: Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal
Date: July 29, 2010

An Ohio temporary agency has agreed to pay $650,000 to settle allegations it used code words to identify the race and sex of job applicants. The suit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had claimed the company, Area Temps, profiled job hunters despite promises of equal employment opportunities, WKYC.com reports.

Roto-Rooter Sex Bias Class Suit Survives Bid To Toss

Source: Nick Brown, Forbes
Date: June 17, 2010

A court has partially denied Roto-Rooter Services Co.'s bid to nix a putative $5 million Title VII class action accusing it of denying promotions to women, rejecting the plumbing giant's statute of limitations defense and declining to rule on its contention of improper venue.

2 ex-employees settle lawsuits against Toledo for $450,000

Source: Toledo Blade, Toledo Blade
Date: January 21, 2010

Toledo City Council is being asked by Mayor Mike Bell to agree to settlements that total $450,000 with two former city employees who claimed they were unfairly fired.

Fired worker alleges discrimination in suit

Source: Phil Trexler, Akron Beacon Journal
Date: September 21, 2005

A fired insurance adjuster who says viewing wrecked vehicles after his own crash triggers post-traumatic stress disorder has sued his former employer. Johnnie L. Legrair Jr. of Copley Township filed his lawsuit Tuesday against Progressive Casualty Insurance in Summit County Common Pleas Court. His suit alleges disability, race and age discrimination.

Appeals court reinstates nurse's age-bias complaint

Source: James McNair, Cincinnati Enquirer
Date: August 3, 2005

Thanks to a state appeals court's ruling, a jury will hear the case of a 63-year-old nurse who sued for age discrimination after her job was assumed by a colleague 33 years her junior. In a unanimous opinion by a three-judge panel, the 12th Ohio District Court of Appeals ruled that [a] Clermont County Common Pleas Judge erred when he threw out the lawsuit. The higher court went on to say, "Despite the trial court's finding to the contrary, [she] established a prima facie case of age discrimination." The civil proceedings will resume in Clermont County Common Pleas Court.

Ex-McDonald's manager wins AIDS bias suit

Source: Thomas J. Sheeran, Associated Press, Washington Post
Date: July 7, 2005

A jury ruled Thursday that McDonald's Corp. discriminated against a restaurant manager who claimed he was forced out of his job after the company learned he had AIDS. The jury awarded Russell Rich of Akron $490,000 in damages in the second trial on his claim against the fast-food chain. Rich won $5 million in a 2001 trial but that verdict was overturned on appeal, based on faulty jury instructions from the judge. Rich started working the cash register at a franchised McDonald's at age 13 and put in 21 years with the hamburger giant, eventually becoming manager of a restaurant. Then, he contends, he was pressured to resign in 1997 because he has AIDS.

Man sues McDonald's for discrimination

Source: Associated Press, CBS News
Date: June 20, 2005

Russell Rich started working the cash register at age 13 and put in 21 years with the hamburger giant, eventually becoming a corporate manager. Then, he contends, he was pressured to resign in 1997 because he has AIDS. Rich won a $5 million verdict in his discrimination case against the burger chain in 2001. But the verdict was overturned after an appeals court ruled that McDonald's did not receive a fair trial. A new trial was to start Monday in Cleveland. His AIDS medications, which cost tens of thousands of dollars a year, are being covered by the Ohio AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Rich said he is pursuing the lawsuit because he thinks McDonald's, not taxpayers, should be paying.

Ford bias case deal weighed by judge

Source: James McNair, Cincinnati Enquirer
Date: June 2, 2005

James Robinson is finally taking part in the apprenticeship program to which he was denied admission along with 3,400 other African-Americans. Robinson started apprentice training in December as part of a $10 million class-action settlement that went before Senior U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel on Wednesday. The settlement covers roughly 3,400 African-American employees at Ford plants nationwide who were shut out of the company's apprenticeship program dating back to 1997. Robinson, the 10 other plaintiffs and two other employees who had filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, stand to receive $30,000 apiece if Spiegel approves the settlement.

Suit: UC said she was 'too French'

Source: Lori Kurtzman, Cincinnati Enquirer
Date: March 15, 2005

A former fashion instructor is suing the University of Cincinnati, claiming the school did not renew her contract because some administrators and colleagues considered her "too French." Nathalie Doucet filed suit last week in U.S. District Court, seeking to either get her job back or receive money for the damages caused by her termination. Doucet, who was born in France and is a permanent resident alien in the United States, said the discrimination began early in her term and grew worse, especially as anti-French sentiments were prevalent in the country after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Blacks gain apprenticeships

Source: James McNair, Cincinnati Enquirer
Date: January 4, 2005

Ford Motor Co. has agreed to pay more than $9 million, offer apprenticeships to 279 African-Americans and drop its apprenticeship admissions test to settle two federal lawsuits alleging that the automaker discriminated against black employees who wanted to boost their careers by learning skilled trades. The proposed remedies would settle lawsuits filed last week by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and 11 current and former employees. It will fall to Senior U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel to approve the settlement. The class-action lawsuit was filed by James Robinson and 10 other individuals, who are represented by Cyrus Mehri of Washington, D.C., and former federal Appeals Court Judge Nathaniel Jones of Cincinnati.

Court rejects steelworkers' argument

Source: Associated Press, Washington Post
Date: October 1, 2004

A federal appeals court rejected arguments Friday that the federal government should pay employees of a failed manufacturer "shutdown pensions" that union officials said were promised in a labor contract. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling denies payments of $1,000 to $2,000 per month to about 2,500 former employees of Republic Technologies International LLC, a northeast Ohio manufacturer of steel bars that closed in 2002. The United Steelworkers union, which represents the former employees, had argued that the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. was obligated to pay "shutdown pensions" to workers because they were part of the labor contract signed with RTI.

Court: Title VII protects transgender workers

Source: Ann Rostow, PlanetOut
Date: June 2, 2004

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled Tuesday that a transgender fire fighter in Salem, Ohio, could proceed with a workplace discrimination suit against town officials. A key issue was whether Title VII -- the provision of federal law that prohibits job discrimination -- covers discrimination based on the type of sex-based discrimination that typically plagues transgender workers.

Appeals judges order lower court to reconsider transsexual's lawsuit

Source: Associated Press, ONN News [Ohio]
Date: June 2, 2004

A federal appeals court ordered a court Tuesday to reconsider a lawsuit by a transsexual firefighter who said the city of Salem [Ohio] violated her rights by suspending her after she disclosed she was changing her gender to become a woman. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a federal judge in Youngstown erred last year by dismissing the claims of the fire lieutenant, known as Jimmie L. Smith. The appeals judges said Smith had presented evidence that supported her claims of gender discrimination and civil rights violations.

[Ohio] Ruling Limits Workers' Comp Coverage

Source: Armond D. Budish, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Date: May 11, 2004

If you're injured on the job, it's comforting to know that at least you can fall back on Ohio's workers' compensation program, right? Well, maybe not. First, what's workers' compensation? The workers' compensation program is designed to pay employees for work-related injuries. Employers in Ohio are required to contribute to a fund that is then used to compensate employees and their dependents for death, injuries or occupational disease arising from a worker's job. Employees benefit because the program generally provides a more speedy and inexpensive method of recovering compensation than traditional lawsuits. Employees do not have to prove that the employers negligently caused their injuries, and employers cannot avoid coverage based on employees' carelessness or assumption of risks. Employers benefit, too, because they are relieved of the potential for unlimited liability through negligence cases. The amount employees receive under the program is typically less than would be possible through traditional lawsuits. The program is intended to strike a fair balance both for employees and employers.

High Court Backs Benefits Based on Age

Source: Kirsten Downey, Washington Post
Date: February 25, 2004

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 yesterday that federal anti-age discrimination law permits company benefit plans to favor older workers over younger ones, a decision applauded by corporate groups as necessary to preserve some early retirement plans. The decision, which reversed a court of appeals ruling, involved a case in which Falls Church-based defense contractor General Dynamics changed its health plan for retirees in 1997, saying it could afford to offer the future benefit only to workers over 50. Citing the soaring costs of health insurance, many other companies nationwide also have changed their benefits policies to eliminate or restrict access to retiree health benefits. Workers over 40 challenged the General Dynamics policy change and won at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

Court Rejects Reverse Age Discrimination

Source: Warren Richey, Christian Science Monitor
Date: February 25, 2004

Employers may use age as a valid criterion to award more lucrative benefits to older workers without violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. In an important age-bias case, the US Supreme Court Tuesday sided with older workers in ruling that the ADEA does not empower relatively younger workers to file so-called reverse-discrimination lawsuits. Instead, in 6-to-3 decision, the court said the law was intended to protect older workers from workplace discrimination that favors younger workers. "If Congress had been worrying about protecting the younger against the older, it would not likely have ignored everyone under 40," writes Justice David Souter for the majority. The decision is significant because it upholds the continued use of age as a valid triggering mechanism in early-retirement incentive plans and retirement packages negotiated through collective bargaining agreements. Such packages often use age as a means to apportion more lucrative benefits based on the advancing age of each worker.

Ex-Fireman Receives $175,000 in Bias Suit

Source: Lila J. Mills, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Date: February 21, 2004

A black Cleveland firefighter had to fight more than fires while on the job, a jury has found. Firefighter Emmet Jordan, who left the department in 2001, had to fight a supervisor who retaliated when he complained of a racist, hostile work environment. An all-white jury in federal court awarded Jordan $175,000 in damages Friday. The city plans to appeal. Jordan, 40, said in the lawsuit that he became depressed and was forced into early retirement to escape racism on the job.

Discrimination Suits Costly for Cuyahoga

Source: Joan Mazzolini, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Date: January 21, 2004

Cuyahoga County has spent nearly $700,000 on outside lawyers to defend a series of racial discrimination lawsuits by Juvenile Court employees. The lawsuits, involving 15 employees, have been combined into one case in federal court. And with a trial date set for June, the county's legal bill will grow this year. The lawsuits, initially filed in Common Pleas Court, involve black employees who say they were passed over for promotions, were treated more harshly for work violations than white co-workers and suffered retaliation after complaining.

Case Tests the Limits of Age-Bias Law

Source: Lyle Denniston, Boston Globe
Date: November 12, 2003

Members of the Supreme Court reacted negatively yesterday to an argument made by the Justice Department that a federal law designed to protect older workers from age bias in the workplace bars discrimination against younger workers, too. The case involves a defense contractor with manufacturing plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania, General Dynamics Land Systems Inc. Workers who were over 40, but not yet 50, sued after the company negotiated a new union contract offering health benefits only to workers who were at least 50 years old. The federal age discrimination law protects workers 40 and older. None of the justices spoke favorably of the discrimination complaint made by the younger workers. The justices who did speak up opposed it.

Justices Mull Twist in Law on Age Bias

Source: Linda Greenhouse , New York Times
Date: November 13, 2003

When Congress made it illegal 36 years ago for employers to discriminate on the basis of age, it was clear that older workers were protected from discriminatory treatment that favored those who were younger. The question in a Supreme Court argument on Wednesday was whether the Age Discrimination in Employment Act also meant the reverse: if Congress in addition meant to prohibit policies that favor older workers over younger ones. The plain language of the statute suggests one interpretation, while the context in which the law was enacted in 1967 suggests the opposite. An employer shall not discriminate against someone "because of such individual's age," the law reads, without specifying "older age" or "younger age." The law's protection begins at age 40 and has no upper limit.

High Court Hears Age Discrimination Arguments

Source: Tony Mauro, Legal Times
Date: November 13, 2003

The Supreme Court appeared sympathetic Wednesday to the plea of corporate America and the AARP that it not interpret the Age Discrimination in Employment Act in a way that pits older workers against younger workers over 40. The case, General Dynamics Land Systems Inc. v. Cline, No. 02-1080, could have broad impact on whether companies can give any kind of favored treatment to older workers, such as better health benefits, relaxed hours, or even voluntary buyouts. The ADEA protects workers 40 and older from workplace discrimination because of age. But the question before the Court is whether the law permits younger workers within that protected class -- say, age 40 to 55 -- to challenge benefits or actions that favor workers 55 or older.

Court Weighing in on Age Discrimination

Source: Associated Press, New York Times
Date: November 12, 2003

An age discrimination fight at the Supreme Court pits 40-something workers against their older colleagues over job benefits. At issue is whether General Dynamics Corp. wrongly singled out people over 50 to get health benefits when they retired, but excluded employees between 40 and 49. The case, being argued Wednesday at the court, is important for U.S. companies that offer retirement packages to get employees to leave and for the workers who hope to benefit from the offers. The crux of the case is the interpretation of a federal law that protects workers over 40 from age discrimination. In an odd twist, the 40-something workers who sued say they are being discriminated against because they are too young to get the benefits being offered.

High Court to Hear Younger Employees' Bias Case

Source: Mark Helm (Hearst), San Antonio Express-News
Date: November 9, 2003

When Congress made age discrimination illegal, the lawmakers wanted to prevent employers from favoring younger employees over older workers. But in a case to be heard this week before the U.S. Supreme Court, younger workers turned the law on its head, arguing that their employer, General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc., illegally discriminated against younger workers in violation of the 1967 the Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA). The case involves a lawsuit by some 200 workers, all between the ages of 40 and 49 at the time, who sued General Dynamics in 1997 after the company and the workers' union, United Auto Workers, agreed to change the company's health care benefits.

Thistledown Ex-Worker Wins Sexual Harassment Case

Source: James F. McCarty, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Date: October 23, 2003

Leslie Guciardo was a trailblazer at Thistledown Race Track when she became the first and only woman to work on the track crew. But Guciardo's promotion in 1999 did not sit well with many of the 10 men on the formerly all-male crew responsible for grooming the track, according to testimony during an eight-day trial in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. Yesterday, after two days of deliberation, a jury awarded Guciardo, 49, of North Ridgeville, more than $500,000 in damages and attorney's fees to be paid by Thistledown. The five-man, three-woman jury unanimously ruled Guciardo was a victim of sexual harassment, and Thistledown officials wrongfully retaliated by firing her after she reported the harassment in September 2001.

Discrimination Case Three Years in the Making

Source: James McNair, Cincinnati Enquirer
Date: October 19, 2003

At Cincinnati Insurance Co.'s 2,600-person headquarters compound in Fairfield and among the ranks of its 1,000-person national work force, men and women work alongside each other in virtually equal number. Peek into the company's executive ranks, though, and the picture changes. Of the company's 150 officer-level slots, 85 percent are held by men. Of the company's 43 senior officers, 88 percent are men. Of the 16 board seats at parent company Cincinnati Financial Corp., 15 are occupied by men. Nine female employees want that to change. Saying they are fed up with watching men pass them on the corporate ladder to higher positions with fatter paychecks, the women filed a federal class-action suit nearly three years ago in Indianapolis. The case pits would-be glass-ceiling busters against a company that is part of the nation's 17th largest property and casualty insurer.

Appeals Court Overturns Discrimination Ruling Against McDonald's

Source: Associated Press, ONN News
Date: October 11, 2003

An appeals court has overturned a $5 million verdict won by a former McDonald's restaurant manager based on his claims the company discriminated against him because he has HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS. Akron resident Russell Rich was awarded the damages in 2001. He sued the company after he was forced to resign from his job in 1997.

Federal Lawsuit Accuses Auto Dealer of Discrimination

Source: Associated Press, Miami Herald
Date: September 30, 2003

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit accusing a car dealership of violating civil rights laws by failing to hire women for its sales force. EEOC officials allege that Jeff Wyler Chevrolet Inc. discriminated against Patricia Cameron-Lytle and other unidentified women by declining to hire them on the basis of their gender.

Teacher Says She Was Fired Because She Remarried

Source: NBC4Columbus
Date: September 28, 2003

A teacher who said a Roman Catholic school fired her because she remarried without obtaining an annulment from the church has sued the school, its principal and a pastor. Vicki Manno, 47, and her new husband, Michael Yasenchack, 43, filed a lawsuit Friday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court against St. Felicitas Elementary School in suburban Euclid, principal Ann Marie Woyma and the Rev. Richard Bober, pastor of St. Felicitas Church.

AK Steel Sued for Alleged Racial Tensions

Source: Associated Press, New York Times
Date: September 10, 2003

A federal agency charged Tuesday that AK Steel Corp. has condoned a "racially hostile'' environment at its Butler plant for at least three years, by allowing racist language, swastikas, nooses and Ku Klux Klan videos in various areas, including the employee lounge. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in a lawsuit filed in Pittsburgh federal court that the alleged problems were so bad that AK Steel management must have known of them even before black employees complained.

Supercuts Agrees to Settle Racial Bias Case for $3.5 Million

Source: D.E. L?Ger, Miami Herald
Date: August 14, 2003

A former Supercuts manager, who complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about a plan to reduce the number of black employees at the hair salon chain, paved the way for a $3.5 million settlement announced Wednesday. Richard Quick, of Melbourne, was a regional manager in charge of 76 Supercuts stores in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Puerto Rico when he balked at a Supercuts directive ''to balance the platform'' by trimming the number of black workers employed by the Minneapolis-based chain and was fired, the EEOC said.

EEOC Accuses Die Maker of Bias Against Women

Source: John Caniglia, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Date: July 24, 2003

The government says a Northeast Ohio tool-and-die maker has deemed women too weak to work in the company's factory. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission this week filed a sexual discrimination case against Quaker Manufacturing Corp., saying that the Salem company and an affiliated employment agency refused to give women factory jobs based on the belief that women weren't suited for that type of work. "Each person has to be judged for the job, not an entire class," said John Sargent, an attorney for the employment commission. He said the decisions were based on the belief that women would not be able to do the lifting needed on the job.

Goodyear Accused of Age Bias in Layoffs

Source: Beacon Journal
Date: July 16, 2003

Three salaried managers who lost jobs in Goodyear's recent round of layoffs sued Tuesday, alleging age discrimination. They allege Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. planned to reduce the number of older salaried workers when about 350 white-collar jobs were eliminated in January.

Ex-Abercrombie & Fitch Faces Suit Over OT

Source: Associated Press, Miami Herald
Date: July 9, 2003

Two former Abercrombie & Fitch employees have sued the clothing retailer, saying it illegally refused to pay them overtime. The federal lawsuit by Melissa Mitchell and Jennifer Frietsch said the company gave workers titles containing the word "manager" but assigned duties similar to those of sales associates. That way, Abercrombie did not have to pay overtime beyond their regular 40 hours per week, violating federal and state wage laws, the lawsuit said. The women, who worked at an Abercrombie store at a suburban Cincinnati mall, have asked U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott to declare the lawsuit a class-action covering Abercrombie employees nationwide.

Court Hints at Rejection of Ohio Gay-Rights Suit

Source: Bill Sloat, The Plain Dealer
Date: June 18, 2003

A federal appeals court sent strong signals yesterday that it will reject a gay-rights lawsuit aimed at expanding Ohio's anti-discrimination laws to protect homosexuals against workplace bias. Judge Boyce F. Martin of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who spoke from the bench after lawyers completed their arguments, said the case did not appear to involve any federal constitutional issues.




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