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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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Starbucks sued for firing barista with dwarfism

Source: Amy Rolph, Seattle P-I
Date: May 17, 2011

The federal government is suing Seattle-based Starbucks for firing a barista with dwarfism in 2009.

Cardiologists Accuse Hospital of Discrimination

Source: Emily Ramshaw, New York Times
Date: May 14, 2011

But whether racial animus led Citizens Medical, a 344-bed county-owned hospital, to close its cardiology unit to non-staff doctors -- effectively revoking the privileges of Drs. Harish Chandna, Ajay Gaalla and Dakshesh Kumar Parikh to practice there -- is the subject of fierce debate and a discrimination lawsuit filed by the three doctors in Federal District Court in the Southern District of Texas.

Ex-Employees File Title VII Suits Against Dallas Firm

Source: Miriam Rozen , Texas Lawyer
Date: April 11, 2011

Two former employees of Dallas' Simon, Eddins & Greenstone have sued the firm in federal court, alleging they were discriminated against based on their sex, subjected to a hostile work environment and unlawfully discharged in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Dell Named Defendant in Another Gender-Discrimination Claim

Source: Christopher Calnan, Austin Business Journal
Date: January 14, 2011

A lawsuit filed last month by an Austin woman is the latest in a string of gender-discrimination cases brought against Dell Inc., the computer giant with a human resources department allegedly described by a Dell executive as "one of the toughest old-boy networks" in the company.

Flammia Gets Back Rank, $249,000

Source: Michelle Mondo, San Antonio Express
Date: October 22, 2010

he City Council approved a settlement agreement Thursday in a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by veteran police commander Rosemary Flammia that will allow her to receive $249,000 and be reinstated - for one day - to her former rank of deputy chief before retiring.

Austin Foam Plastics Pays $600,000 To Settle EEOC Harassment Suit

Source: EEOC, EEOC
Date: October 20, 2010

Austin Foam Plastics, Inc., a producer and distributor of corrugated box and cushion packaging, will pay $600,000 to settle a racial harassment, sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

EEOC Obtains $122,500 from Houston Construction Company for Religious, Race and National Origin Discrimination

Source: EEOC, EEOC
Date: April 23, 2010

A Houston-area construction company will pay $122,500 and provide additional remedial relief to resolve a discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

Pregnant Woman Misses Doctor's Appointment, Sues Employer After Losing Baby

Source: Michelle Massey, Southeast Texas Record
Date: April 2, 2010

Although her employer spent seven months accommodating those requests, her supervisor wanted her to finish a report and forced her to miss an appointment. Three days later, Schroeder went into labor, delivering one healthy daughter and a stillborn son.

U.S. / Titan Concrete to Pay $135,000 to Settle EEOC National Origin, Age and Retaliation Lawsuit Against Subsidiary, Titan Concrete Industries

Source: EEOC, EEOC
Date: March 12, 2010

Houston-based U.S. Concrete will pay $135,000 to settle a national origin, age and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against its Memphis subsidiary, Titan Concrete, according to an agency announcement released today.

Workplace discrimination complaints remain at high levels in Texas, U.S.

Source: Darren Barbee, Fort Worth Star Telegram
Date: January 12, 2010

Texas workers got $28.9 million in compensation for workplace sexual harassment, religious intolerance, and age and race discrimination in fiscal 2009 - about $2.7 million more than the previous year.

Court Rules Against Pilots in Age-Bias Case

Source: AP, The Mercury
Date: July 2, 2009

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by older pilots who sued their union over an interpretation of a law that raised the mandatory retirement age for airline pilots to 65.

Airport workers agree to $1.9 million in race bias suit

Source: Miguel Bustillo, Los Angeles Times
Date: March 12, 2008

Fifteen black and Latino airport workers in Dallas who alleged that white co-workers intimidated them with swastikas, nooses and other racist symbols have settled a lawsuit for nearly $1.9 million, their lawyer and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced last week.

Lawsuit says refinery wrongfully fired man

Source: Tammy Fonce-Olivas, El Paso Times
Date: February 15, 2007

An man alleging he was fired by Phelps Dodge for refusing to take home his work uniform to launder after it was exposed to hazardous materials has filed a wrongful-termination suit against the refinery. [The] former electrician at the refinery is asking a state district court to prevent Phelps Dodge from requiring or requesting employees to take contaminated clothing off the work premises to be laundered. He also is seeking to be reinstated for benefits and pay he would not receive because he is unable to return, back pay, his court costs covered, compensatory and punitive damages.

Texas inmates not entitled to minimum wage

Source: Michael Graczyk, Yahoo News
Date: July 11, 2006

Texas inmates working prison jobs aren't entitled to the federal minimum wage, an appeals court ruled in a case brought by a sex offender who works at a state prison laundry. Douglas R. Loving contended his job as a drying machine operator qualified him for protection under the Fair Labor Standards Act--meaning he should get the minimum wage of $5.15 an hour--because the act didn't exempt prisoners. The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. It upheld a lower court decision's to throw out Loving's lawsuit as frivolous, writing that prisoners are not employees and not entitled to minimum wages.

After the Enron trial, defense firm is stuck with the tab

Source: Carrie Johnson, Washington Post
Date: June 16, 2006

O'Melveny & Myers LLP collected what in a typical case would be a fat payday: $23 million from its client and $17 million more from his insurance policies. But, even before the trial began, [Jeffrey] Skilling's team of more than 20 lawyers, paralegals and support staff burned through those funds, leaving the law firm holding the bag for "multiple tens of millions" of dollars in unpaid fees and expenses. Lay and Skilling's "money was gained at our expense," said a group of former Enron employees. The assets "should first be used to return money lost by the employees and only then be used for their defense."

Enron chiefs guilty of fraud and conspiracy

Source: Alexei Barrionuevo, Vikas Bajaj, New York Times
Date: May 25, 2006

Kenneth L. Lay and Jeffrey K. Skilling, the chief executives who guided Enron through its spectacular rise and even more stunning fall, were found guilty today of fraud and conspiracy in a case that led the parade of corporate scandals in recent years that emerged from the get-rich-quick stock market excesses of the 1990's. For a company that once seemed so complex that almost no one could understand its arcane accounting or how it actually made its money, the cases ended up being nearly as simple as could be. Mr. Lay and Mr. Skilling were found guilty of lying--lying to investors, to employees and to government regulators--in an effort to disguise the crumbling fortunes of their energy empire. Mr. Skilling and Mr. Lay will remain free on bail until they are sentenced in September.

Conroe firm pays $1 million to settle race abuse case

Source: L.M. Sixel, Houston Chronicle
Date: March 22, 2006

A black laborer for a pipe company in Conroe [Texas] who contends white co-workers subjected him to racial epithets and choked him with a hangman's noose has won a $1 million settlement from his former employer. The settlement, which stems from a lawsuit filed by the EEOC in 2003, is the largest single award the agency has won for an individual in its history. In addition to the $1 million settlement and a permanent injunction, [the company's] chief executive agreed to make a written apology to Hickman. And within 30 days, the company must plant or designate a tree on its property in honor of Hickman's tenure there.

Judge halts trial, says information withheld

Source: News-Journal
Date: January 6, 2006

Testimony in a discrimination trial ended abruptly Thursday when U. S. District Judge John Ward charged defense attorneys with withholding information from the opposing lawyers. "The only way to be fair to your client," Ward told [the] plaintiff's attorney, "is to adjourn this case. I, therefore, declare a recess until we can get to the bottom of it." Ward ordered attorneys to return to his courtroom with information on "all (discrimination) audits and the college's responses." Ernestine Manuel filed a complaint against Texas State Technical College Marshall on July 1, 2004, alleging that she was subjected to a "racially hostile environment" while she was employed as an accountant in the school's business office.

Receptionist sues boss for allegedly masturbating on her

Source: Lisa Sweetingham, Court TV
Date: December 13, 2005

Jorge Garcia answers his own phone at his legal services firm in Houston. In fact, has become his own secretary since his receptionist quit, filed criminal charges against him, and sued [him] for allegedly masturbating on her during her second day on the job. Kristina Roberts claims she was alone with her new boss on Sept. 9 when he approached her while holding his penis. "Plaintiff was sitting at her desk doing the work she was given earlier that day when Mr. Garcia came up behind her," her civil suit says. "He asked Ms. Roberts to turn around, and when she did, defendant proceeded to ejaculate onto her and her clothing." Her attorney concedes that the offense may sound almost inconceivable to outsiders.

Ex-worker awarded $5 million in sexual harassment suit

Source: Associated Press, KLTV
Date: September 27, 2005

A former utility meter reader who claimed harassment has been awarded nearly five million dollars by a jury in San Antonio. Jurors found Yolanda Olivarri had been sexually harassed by a supervisor and that C-P-S Energy did little to help her. The company will appeal. Jurors determined C-P-S Energy should pay up to two million dollars to Olivarri. Her former supervisor was ordered to pay the rest for punitive damages.

EEOC accuses Allied Aviation of discrimination

Source: David Koenig, Associated Press, Miami Herald
Date: July 12, 2005

Federal officials have accused an aviation-services company of discriminating against black and Hispanic workers and failing to stop white employees from routinely using racial slurs in the workplace. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit against Allied Aviation Services on Monday in federal district court in Dallas. The lawsuit charges that black and Hispanic employees are held to higher performance standards and overlooked for promotions and pay raises. The EEOC is seeking back pay for workers who lost their jobs, plus compensation for emotional pain and humiliation, and unspecified punitive damages.

Labor Dept. settles suit against Enron

Source: Associated Press, New York Times
Date: July 12, 2005

Enron employees whose retirement plans vanished when the company imploded may be getting some compensation after all, thanks to a settlement announced Monday by the government. The Labor Department, which sued Enron in 2003 on behalf of the company's employees, said about $356 million will be set aside out of proceeds from the sale of Enron's assets to cover some of the lost retirement and pension plan benefits. The settlement resolves the lawsuit, which alleged Enron mismanaged its retirement and pension plans by relying on its stocks to support them and did nothing to protect workers from losses, according to a Labor Department statement.

$500,000 settles suit over hiring at former West Side plant

Source: Aissatou Sidime, San Antonio Express-News
Date: June 8, 2005

An electrical device manufacturer and a San Antonio employment agency have agreed to pay $500,000 to settle claims that they discriminated against men at the manufacturer's former West Side plant. Officials with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Pass & Seymour Inc., a Syracuse, N.Y.-based manufacturer of electrical switches and intercoms, instructed Kennmark Group screeners to reject males who applied for assembler jobs. Men were said to be less dexterous and less subservient than women, according to EEOC officials. "They were told that women with children are more motivated to come to work and to keep their jobs than men," EEOC trial attorney Eduardo Juarez said.

Black, white or gray

Source: Claudia H. Deutsch, New York Times
Date: June 7, 2005

Marcel T. Thomas, the chief executive of GE Aviation Materials, has been promoted three times since he joined the company in 2001. But this year, despite a big increase in his unit's sales and profits, he received a low rating and a negligible compensation increase. Mr. Thomas is black, and he believes that his treatment is a result of racial discrimination. On May 17, Thomas sued G.E. He is seeking to have the suit certified as a class action. Both sides are marshaling their arguments. But already the suit offers an example of how people can look at the same numbers and draw opposing conclusions. It shows that no matter how race-neutral its policies, no company can be certain that it has rooted out racism.

Age bias damages awarded in suit

Source: Domingo Ramirez Jr., Star-Telegram
Date: November 3, 2004

A Tarrant County [Texas] jury awarded $1.7 million Tuesday to a former North Richland Hills assistant fire chief in an age discrimination lawsuit. The jury also noted that 51-year-old Pat Hughes was terminated as part of city retaliation for his complaints about age discrimination. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that Hughes had been discriminated against because of his age. Two other former fire officials also filed complaints with the EEOC claiming age discrimination. The EEOC also found that they had been discriminated against because of age.

EEOC files race discrimination suit against Omni Hotels

Source: American City Business Journals, Dallas Business Journal
Date: August 17, 2004

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed suit in a U.S. District Court in Dallas against Omni Hotels Inc., charging that the company fired a hotel manager because he was Arabic and Muslim and had expressed opposition to employment practices he thought were illegal. The EEOC filed the Dallas lawsuit on behalf of Mohamed S. Elmougy, an Egyptian-born U.S. citizen who worked as the manager of the chain's Omni Mandalay Hotel in Irving for about 18 months. Elmougy filed a complaint with the EEOC, charging discrimination. The complaint is one of almost 1,000 complaints from people of Asian or Middle Eastern heritage the EEOC received after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Ex-Enron Workers To Get $85 Million In Suit Settlement

Source: Marcy Gordon, Associated Press
Date: May 13, 2004

Former Enron Corp. employees who lost millions of dollars in retirement money in the company's stunning collapse would get $85 million in a partial settlement of their lawsuit, attorneys said yesterday. In a related development, former company directors have agreed to pay a total of $1.5 million to resolve a suit by the Labor Department, attorneys said. Both suits were filed in federal court in Houston, where Enron had its headquarters, and the settlements must be approved by the court. Attorneys for the Enron employees said their deal would be the largest settlement ever of a case involving company stock in retirement plans.

[Texas] Supreme Court Rejects Appeal from Disciplined Judge

Source: Jim Vertuno (AP), Dallas Star-Telegram
Date: April 12, 2004

The Texas Supreme Court on Friday rejected an appeal from a former South Texas district judge who was ordered removed from the bench after being accused of sexual harassment. Terry Canales, a four-term judge from the 79th district, sought to reverse a disciplinary panel that ordered his removal and barred him forever from holding judicial office in Texas. The Supreme Court rejected his case without comment. Augustin Rivera, one of Canales' attorneys, said Canales continues to assert his innocence. "He's always denied and disputed the allegations," Rivera said.

Garland Wins Federal Bias Lawsuit

Source: Richard Abshire, Dallas Morning News
Date: April 7, 2004

Garland has won a major battle in its 10-year war with the Department of Justice. Federal District Judge Sam A. Lindsay ruled in the city's favor last week, finding that the federal agency had failed to show that the tests the city uses to screen police and fire applicants discriminate against minorities. "We're really pleased and we feel vindicated," said Mayor Bob Day, who was on the City Council when the suit was filed. "We felt very strongly that the tests we were using were valid." City Attorney Charles Hinton said the suit never should have been filed. "I would like the Civil Rights Section of the Department of Justice to come and apologize to the citizens of Garland for dragging us through this scurrilous and frivolous litigation," he said.

Motherhood at the Firm

Source: John Council, Texas Lawyer
Date: April 1, 2004

A former associate with Dallas' Jenkens & Gilchrist recently filed a discrimination suit against the firm, alleging it "constructively discharged" her because of her pregnancy -- an allegation some lawyers say is on the rise in employment litigation in Texas. In her complaint in Bridges v. Jenkens and Gilchrist, filed March 10 in U.S. District Court in Dallas, Kandice Bridges alleges the firm discriminated against her based on her sex, gender and pregnancy, thereby violating the 14th Amendment and 42 U.S.C. ? 2000e. Jenkens & Gilchrist vehemently denies the allegations. Bridges alleges that she had outstanding performance evaluations and she was on a "shareholder track" at the firm until she became pregnant with her first child. Because of her pregnancy, she allegedly began experiencing a pattern of discrimination by her supervisors, according to the complaint.

Concrete Firm Settles Racial Bias Case

Source: L.M. Sixel, Houston Chronicle
Date: March 3, 2004

A Spring concrete company has agreed to pay a former worker $45,000 to settle a race discrimination lawsuit filed by federal employment regulators. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claimed in the lawsuit filed last year that Frontier Materials Co. President and CEO Jeff Beck refused to promote John Wayne Calhoun because he said "this is redneck country," and customers wouldn't accept a black man as an account manager. As part of the settlement, Frontier agreed to provide managers with training on federal anti-discrimination laws and make periodic reports to the federal agency on the racial makeup of its managers and sales staff.

Discrimination Case to be Reheard

Source: L.M. Sixel, Houston Chronicle
Date: February 24, 2004

U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes should have let a jury decide a job discrimination lawsuit involving a pregnant worker instead of dismissing the case in the middle of the trial, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. The court, which sent the case back to Hughes for retrial, said the judge improperly dismissed the pregnancy discrimination and retaliation case against Dunbar Diagnostic Services, which terminated Leticia Gonzalez, a mobile ultrasound technician. Gonzalez, who joined the company in 2000, was entitled to health insurance benefits after a 90-day probationary period. But she didn't get them, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission contends that was because she was visibly pregnant, said Tim Bowne, the commission lawyer in charge of the case. Gonzalez filed a complaint and was terminated a week later, Bowne said. He said the agency believes Gonzalez was fired in retaliation for filing the charge.

Kendall Eatery Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Source: Zeke MacCormack , San Antonio Express-News
Date: December 19, 2003

Po Po Family Restaurant in Kendall County will pay two former waitresses $43,000 to settle a federal lawsuit in which they accused the eatery's owner, Jerry Tilley, of sexual harassment. Tilley, 62, denied the accusations Wednesday, saying he agreed to a mediated resolution for economic reasons. "A small person like me cannot fight a federal agency," he said. The consent decree signed Dec. 4 by U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez specifies that it is not an admission of liability by defendant Til Mar Inc., which does business as Po Po Family Restaurant. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission brought the suit in 2002 on behalf of two teenage girls who were employed as waitresses at the popular restaurant just off the Welfare exit on Interstate 10.

Local Trainer Sues Promoter Don King for Discrimination

Source: Jim Forsyth, WOAI.com
Date: December 13, 2003

On the eve of welterweight boxer Ricardo Mayorga's championship fight against Cory Spinks, Mayorga's trainer filed a $10 million dollar racial discrimination lawsuit against promoter Don King. Prominent San Antonio boxing trainer Hector Perez claims he groomed Mayorga for the championship, but was fired because King wanted an African American trainer in Mayorga's corner for the title bout. "I guess I'm not dark enough," Perez said. Civil rights attorney Glenn Levy says it's a 'clear cut case of racism.' "Skin color was the motivating factor behind him being replaced," Levy said. Levy says King hired Perez, who has groomed several prominent Hispanic fighters including Julio Cesar Chavez and Felix Trinidad, to work with Mayorga, and guided Mayorga to three major victories and raised Mayorga's profile to the point where he holds two welterweight belts, and will fight Spinks, the son of former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks, for the unified title in a King promoted card on HBO tomorrow night.

AT&T Wireless Hit With Labor Suit

Source: Jeffrey Silva, RCR Wireless News
Date: December 3, 2003

AT&T Wireless Services Inc. has been hit with a class-action lawsuit alleging the No. 3 mobile-phone operator broke federal labor laws by denying call-center workers overtime pay, litigation that comes at a time when the carrier reportedly is considering outsourcing customer service jobs and only days after T-Mobile USA Inc. agreed to pay $4.8 million in back wages to employees in 13 call centers to settle a suit brought by the Labor Department. Both the lawsuit filed yesterday against AT&T Wireless in Dallas federal court and the Labor Department?s action against T-Mobile claim violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires non-exempt workers to be compensated for overtime work.

High Court Rejects Race-Bias Case

Source: Lyle Denniston, Boston Globe
Date: November 18, 2003

The Supreme Court yesterday rebuffed efforts by civil rights groups to win legal protection for minority customers subjected to racial abuse in stores and other retail outlets. In one of a series of actions on cases raising race-related issues, the justices declined to hear an appeal by a Hispanic woman and her father who encountered a stream of racial epithets and harsh profanity from a white clerk when they stopped to buy gas and picnic supplies at a service station and convenience store in Fort Worth. That appeal had the support of the NAACP and a coalition of other civil rights organizations, who said that racial hostility in day-to-day retail experiences remains a pervasive problem. Lower courts are split on whether federal civil rights law provides protection in this area. "African-American and Latino shoppers experience consumer racial profiling and racial harassment throughout the US," the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and other groups told the court.

'Mattress Mac' Accused of Age Discrimination

Source: Harvey Rice, Houston Chronicle
Date: November 13, 2003

A furniture store whose founder is known as an ardent pitchman for Houston as well as for his own business is being accused of age and sex discrimination by two fired employees. Jim "Mattress Mac" McIngvale routinely called sales manager Martin G. McDaniel "old man" and told him to do "such demeaning, age-based work as sweeping the company warehouse," according to a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday. McDaniel, 60, and Marilyn Murphy, 55, contend that Gallery Furniture subjected them "to a pattern and practice of age and gender discrimination" that culminated in the pair's termination on Jan. 12, 2002.

Baker Hughes Settles Suit by Ex-Employee

Source: Associated Press, Newsday
Date: October 8, 2003

Baker Hughes has settled a lawsuit by a former employee who claimed he was dismissed after refusing to bribe a Nigerian official to win a contract in 1999. Alan Ferguson, a British national, had sued the oilfield services company in a Houston court in March of last year, contending he lost his job five months after refusing to give the Nigerian a share of the company's revenues from a job it was bidding on. Ferguson's attorney, Joseph Ahmad, and Gary Flaharty, Baker Hughes' director of investor relations, confirmed the settlement Monday but declined to discuss the terms.

USAA to Appeal $1.3M Judgment in Age Discrimination Suit

Source: San Antonio Business Journal
Date: September 29, 2003

A spokesman for San Antonio-based insurer USAA says the company will appeal a $1.3 million judgment that a jury has awarded to one of its former employees in an age discrimination suit. USAA eliminated 1,370 employees in August 2001 as part of a corporate restructuring. One of those terminated employees - Steve Brite - subsequently filed an age discrimination suit against the company. Brite, 53, alleged in his suit that he was terminated so that USAA could avoid paying his full retirement medical benefits which he would have been eligible for at age 55. Brite had worked as an insurance fraud investigator for USAA for almost 24 years.

EEOC Says Termination Afoul of Law

Source: L.M. Sixel, Houston Chronicle
Date: September 26, 2003

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued a Houston investment firm Thursday for allegedly firing a receptionist because of her pregnancy. The EEOC accused TIG Capital Securites Co. of terminating Sandra Geiger because it sought to protect her from working during her pregnancy. When the company found out she was pregnant, it put her on several weeks of unpaid leave, said Rudy Sustaita, the EEOC lawyer in charge of the case. And after visiting her physician for a couple of visits in a short period, Geiger was required by TIG Capital Securities to bring a note from her doctor showing that she had been released to perform her duties. But each time she brought a note indicating she could work without restrictions, her boss said it wasn't good enough, Sustaita said.

EEOC Settles Lawsuit Against Great American Foods

Source: Associated Press, Miami Herald
Date: September 24, 2003

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reached a settlement Wednesday in a sexual harassment lawsuit it filed against Great American Foods Corp. The Ore City, Texas-based company operates the David Beard's Catfish King restaurant chain in Texas and Oklahoma. In its lawsuit, the EEOC said managers at a Catfish King in Idabel, Okla., sexually harassed a waitress. The settlement includes $81,000 in compensatory damages and attorney's fees to the waitress. The company, which has 22 locations and employs 500, also must train its workers on the requirements of federal anti-discrimination laws.

U.S. Sues Bombardier After Mormon Fired

Source: Associated Press, New York Times
Date: August 26, 2003

Federal officials sued Bombardier Aerospace Corp., accusing the company of illegally firing a jet salesman who complained about an executive's remark that he couldn't entertain clients because he is a Mormon who doesn't smoke or drink. A government lawyer on Monday called the case "one of the most ridiculous workplace outrages one could imagine.'' The salesman, Michael Kolman, was fired less than a week after he complained to personnel officials, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said.

Aerospace Firm Sued for Alleged Bias

Source: Associated Press, Press Telegram (CA)
Date: August 26, 2003

Federal officials said Monday they have sued Bombardier Aerospace Corp., accusing the company of civil rights violations in the firing of a Mormon employee. Michael Kolman, a jet salesman, was fired less than a week after he complained to the company's personnel department, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said. The lawsuit alleges that a top Bombardier executive subjected Kolman to discriminatory comments, including that customers would be offended by his refusal to take part in drinking and smoking because of his Mormon faith.

EEOC Suit Claims Firing Prompted by Terrorism Fear

Source: L. M. Sixel, Houston Chronicle
Date: August 22, 2003

Karim El-Raheb has led a fairly normal middle class life in Houston. He graduated from Cy-Fair High School, studied at the University of Houston and worked for more than a decade, moving up the ladder at one of Houston's most upscale hotel chains. El-Raheb's heritage as an Egyptian who became a U.S. citizen in 1986 wasn't a big issue. That is until Sept. 11, 2001. El-Raheb was the general manager of Pesce, the upscale restaurant co-owned by celebrity TV chefs and flamboyant Houston restaurateurs Damian Mandola and Johnny Carrabba. However, shortly after the terrorist attacks, El-Raheb said Mandola made remarks in front of customers and co-workers that his Egyptian name and appearance were why the restaurant's revenues had declined in the weeks after the terrorist attacks, El-Raheb claims in a discrimination lawsuit against the restaurant.

EEOC Sues Houston Restaurant for Post-Sept. 11 Discrimination

Source: Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Date: July 10, 2003

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued an upscale Houston seafood restaurant Thursday for violating the civil rights of the establishment's general manager, who is Egyptian, by firing him shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. "Pesce's co-owner Damian C. Mandola began making repeated references in front of the restaurant staff and patrons that Mr. (Karim) El-Raheb could 'pass for Hispanic' and should change his name to 'something Latin,'" according to the lawsuit filed against Pesce Ltd. "Moreover, Mandola fired El-Raheb in November 2001 after openly speculating that his Egyptian name and physical appearance were to blame for Pesce's decline in earnings in the months following the terrorist attacks."

Workplace Bias Alleged

Source: Colin Pope, Austin Business Journal
Date: July 10, 2003

A Motorola Inc. employee in Austin has sued the communications giant for allegedly using the poor economy as an excuse to pare its minority ranks. The suit, filed June 23 in Travis County District Court on behalf of Louise Serrano, claims that on May 15, 2002, Serrano was demoted from his section manager position to an operator position but white men who were section managers weren't affected by the downgrades. Then, on July 31, 2002, Serrano was denied a promotion to shift administrator, the suit states. It alleges that a less qualified white woman was given the position instead. Serrano's "employment situation is part of a pattern of demotions and firings of minority workers at Motorola," the suit states. "Since layoffs began, Motorola has continually used economic conditions as an excuse to demote and terminate minority employees."

Disguised As Legal Arguments

Source: Molly Ivins, Intellivu.com
Date: July 3, 2003

Congratulations to the Supreme Court on its 6-3 decision in the Texas sodomy law case and to all those, including the gay rights groups and the American Civil Liberties Union, who have fought so long and hard to rid the legal system of this manifest injustice. The Sunday chat shows featured a number of curious contentions over this legal decision: It was interesting to see rank bigotry against gays trying to disguise itself as a legal argument. Justice Antonin Scalia was foremost in this camp, throwing a public tantrum devoid of legal reasoning over the decision. Talk about lack of judicial temperament. Some advanced the argument that the law should have been left in place because it is rarely enforced. In fact, it was enforced, that's why there was a case in front of the Supreme Court, and under what principle is rarity an excuse for injustice? Because we relatively rarely execute people who are innocent, does that make it right? Slavery rarely occurs in this country, but it is still illegal.

Labor Department Sues Enron Over Retirement Plan Losses

Source: Portland Business Journal
Date: June 26, 2003

Money lost from employees' retirement accounts has painted another bull's-eye on Enron Corp., parent company of Portland General Electric. The U.S. Labor Department file a suit against Enron and 20 company officers on Thursday, including former PGE exec Ken Harrison, alleging they were responsible for the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the company's retirement savings plan. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao announced that the department sued Enron, former chief executive officers Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, the former board of directors and the former administrative committee for Enron's retirement plans for failing to prudently protect Enron workers' retirement assets invested in the stock of Enron. More than 20,000 participants in the savings and employee stock ownership plans experienced a substantial erosion of their retirement assets due to the drop in the value of Enron stock owned by the plans.

Gays Celebrate, and Plan Campaign for Broader Rights

Source: Dean E. Murphy, New York Times
Date: June 27, 2003

Gay men and lesbians poured into the streets today to celebrate a Supreme Court decision striking down or strictly limiting the country's last remaining sodomy laws in 13 states. From Florida to Alaska, thousands of revelers vowed to push for more legal rights, including same-sex marriages. Gay activists, many in tears, called the ruling the most significant legal victory in the gay rights movement, likening the decision to the seminal civil rights case, Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kan. They predicted it would embolden the movement and, as in the segregation era, encourage more people to step forward and demand an end to prejudice.

A Gay Rights Landmark

Source: New York Times
Date: June 27, 2003

Gay Americans won a historic victory yesterday when the Supreme Court struck down Texas' sodomy law. The sweeping 6-to-3 decision made a point of overturning a 17-year-old precedent that was curtly dismissive of gay rights. Yesterday's ruling has implications that reach beyond sodomy, and is an important step toward winning gay men and women full equality under the law.

Justices, 6-3, Legalize Gay Sexual Conduct in Sweeping Reversal

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

The Supreme Court issued a sweeping declaration of constitutional liberty for gay men and lesbians today, overruling a Texas sodomy law in the broadest possible terms and effectively apologizing for a contrary 1986 decision that the majority said "demeans the lives of homosexual persons." The vote was 6 to 3. Gays are "entitled to respect for their private lives," Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said for the court. "The state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime." Justice Kennedy said further that "adults may choose to enter upon this relationship in the confines of their homes and their own private lives and still retain their dignity as free persons." While the result had been widely anticipated since the court agreed in December to hear an appeal brought by two Houston men who were prosecuted for having sex in their home, few people on either side of the case expected a decision of such scope from a court that only 17 years ago, in Bowers v. Hardwick, had dismissed the same constitutional argument as "facetious." The court overturned that precedent today.

Former Associate Sues V&E Alleging Discrimination

Source: Mary Alice Robbins, Texas Lawyer
Date: June 30, 2003

Houston-based Vinson & Elkins is the defendant in a suit filed recently by one of its former associates, an African-American female attorney who alleges V&E engaged in unlawful employment practices that violated her civil rights. In her suit against the firm, Rhonda Wills alleges that she was the victim of racial and gender discrimination as well as sexual harassment while at the firm.

U.S. Expected to Sue Enron Over Losses in Pensions

Source: Mary Williams Walsh, New York Times
Date: June 26, 2003

The Labor Department is expected to sue about 20 officials of the Enron Corporation and its retirement plans today, arguing that they breached their fiduciary duty to protect Enron employees from the huge losses they incurred when the company's stock price collapsed. A person who has seen a copy of the complaint said the lawsuit would seek to recover the money Enron's employees lost when the company collapsed, depleting their retirement accounts. Civil lawsuits that have already been filed say the workers lost more than $1 billion in total.

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