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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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Here's What Happened When One County Invested Millions In An Employee Wellness Program

Source: Christine Vestal, The Huffington Post
Date: July 22, 2014

In its first five years (2007 to 2011), the county's "Healthy Incentives" program invested $15 million and saved $46 million in health care spending with sustained participation by more than 90 percent of its employees. Two years ago, $61 million in surplus health care funds were returned to county coffers because cost growth was lower than actuaries had projected. Seattle, the state's largest city, is the county seat.

9th Circuit: Faith-Based Groups Not Subject to Title VII

Source: Law.com, Law.com
Date: January 27, 2011

In an amended ruling today, the court delivers a two-paragraph, unsigned order affirming that the group, World Vision, didn't violate the act when it canned two employees who disavowed the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

United Airlines Settles EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

Source: EEOC, EEOC
Date: December 22, 2010

Federal Agency Obtains Policy Changes and $600,000 for Reservation Agents With Disabilities

Allstar Fitness Sued by EEOC for Sexual Harassment

Source: Press Release, EEOC
Date: July 2, 2010

SEATTLE -- Allstar Fitness, which operates fitness clubs in Washington and Oregon, violated federal law when its manager sexually harassed a female employee on multiple occasions, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

$1 Million Settlement in WA Sexual Harassment Case

Source: AP, AP
Date: May 11, 2010

A former Western State Hospital employee who says she was sexually harassed on the job will receive a nearly $1 million settlement.

Wash. Justices to Hear Case of Fired Pot Patient

Source: AP, AP
Date: April 5, 2010

The Washington Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of a medical marijuana patient who was fired for failing a drug test.

Attrell's Funeral Chapels Pays $62,500 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Source: EEOC, EEOC
Date: February 5, 2010

Amputee Fired Because of Disability, Federal Agency Charged

Lowe's to Pay $1.7M in Longview Harassment Settlement

Source: Puget Sound Business Journal, Puget Sound Business Journal
Date: August 26, 2009

Three former Lowe's Companies Inc. employees at the hardware chain's Longview, Wash., location have been awarded a total of $1.72 million, which is the largest settlement per employee in a sexual harassment case in the western U.S., according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Seattle educator wins $1M in sex harassment case

Source: Chris Daniels, King 5 News
Date: September 11, 2008

A jury has ordered Seattle Public Schools to pay former Ballard High School vice-principal Glenda Williams nearly $1 million after she claimed the principal sexually harassed her.

Religious Discrimination at the Best Western?

Source: Laura Onstot, Seattle Weekly
Date: September 3, 2008

Two months after Faiza Abu started working the front desk at the Best Western Airport Executel in SeaTac, new staff uniforms arrived. A Muslim head scarf she had been wearing since she'd taken the job wouldn't work with the new garb, her manager told her. But she kept wearing the scarf, called a hijab, for religious reasons. "Either you're going to take it off or I'm going to fire you," she says the hotel's manager, Shawn Walters, told her. "I didn't take it off--and he fired me."

Religious Discrimination at the Best Western?

Source: Laura Onstot, Seattle Weekly
Date: September 3, 2008

Two months after Faiza Abu started working the front desk at the Best Western Airport Executel in SeaTac, new staff uniforms arrived. A Muslim head scarf she had been wearing since she'd taken the job wouldn't work with the new garb, her manager told her. But she kept wearing the scarf, called a hijab, for religious reasons. "Either you're going to take it off or I'm going to fire you," she says the hotel's manager, Shawn Walters, told her. "I didn't take it off--and he fired me."

Ferry worker awarded $2.8 million from [Washington] state

Source: Vanessa Ho, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Date: August 29, 2008

A worker at Washington State Ferries won a nearly $2.8 million judgment against the state this week after a federal jury found that his bosses had retaliated against him when he complained about paycheck padding and misuse of funds in his department.

City Light workers win bias lawsuit

Source: Bob Young, Seattle Times
Date: February 27, 2007

Seattle City Light discriminated against two longtime employees and awarded them more than $1.4 million. The jury decided that a Vietnamese-American hydroelectric-power supervisor and a black communications manager faced a hostile work environment because of [their] race[s]. [In addition, one was] discriminated against in the promotion process [while the other] was not paid equitably for her work. The verdicts mark the fifth time in a decade that either City Light has settled or a jury has ruled against it in a racial-discrimination case.

Suit says tire chain practiced job bias

Source: Brent Hunsberger, Oregonian
Date: June 1, 2006

Federal officials sued Les Schwab Tire Centers on Wednesday, accusing the nation's second-largest independent tire chain of barring women from service and management jobs, and relegating them to low-level clerical and office posts. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit alleges the company repeatedly denied women jobs in the centers' tire bays, a prerequisite for promotion to more lucrative management jobs. The EEOC filed its action on behalf of Magen Morris and Jennifer Strange, two ex-Les Schwab employees in Washington. Earlier this year, Morris and Strange filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of an estimated 200 female employees accusing the company of discrimination and retaliation.

Les Schwab hit with class-action discrimination lawsuit

Source: Kelly Kearsley, News Tribune
Date: January 13, 2006

Two former Les Schwab employees have filed a class-action lawsuit against the tire company, saying the company denied them promotions, training and other employment opportunities because they are women. The women say they were denied advancement in the company because of their gender. The lawsuit also claims the company has a practice of discrimination, saying that Les Schwab has never hired a female manager for its retail stores. The company, founded in 1952, has 400 retail tire centers.

Jury finds for Boeing in discrimination suit

Source: Dan Richman, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Date: December 22, 2005

Boeing won a court decision Wednesday on part, but not all, of a federal lawsuit alleging it discriminated against African American employees. A jury spent two days deliberating in U.S. District Court in Seattle before rejecting claims that the aerospace giant discriminated against employee Solomon Williams, as well as 29 other named plaintiffs and the class of 4,000 African American salaried workers. A separate part of the case remains to be decided by U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman. She will determine whether company policies may have unintentionally allowed for discrimination, under what is known as a "disparate-impact" claim.

Boeing racial-bias trial to start

Source: Josh Goodman, Seattle Times
Date: December 1, 2005

After seven years of legal haggling, a thrown-out settlement and a change in legal teams, some African-American employees of Boeing are getting their day in court. A class-action lawsuit that alleges Boeing discriminated against African Americans in promotions is slated to start Monday. In 1999, as part of a high-profile settlement brokered by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Boeing agreed to pay $7.3 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of 15,000 African-American employees. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the settlement, agreeing with objecting class members who said the payout was inadequate and unfairly distributed, and that the attorney fees of $4 million were too high.

Court dismisses sex suit by CBS worker

Source: Reuters, CNN/Money
Date: November 15, 2005

A split U.S. appeals court dismissed a lawsuit in which a male CBS TV station employee alleged sexual harassment by a female manager who offered him oral sex and "life-altering" intercourse. The case involves Hugh Hardage, who worked for Washington state's KSTW-TV. Hardage alleged that General Manager Kathy Sparks made unwelcome sexual advances on several occasions. When Hardage complained to sales manager Patty Dean, he said she responded: "Why don't you just do it and get it over with? It may put her in a better mood." But Dean also set up an investigation of the alleged abuse. A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit said even if the remark was unfortunate, CBS acted properly overall.

Boeing to settle gender suit for $72.5M

Source: Associated Press, San Jose Mercury News
Date: November 12, 2005

Thousands of female employees involved in a gender discrimination lawsuit against Boeing will be sharing in a $72.5 million settlement in the next few weeks. If the plaintiffs' motion for speedy payment is granted, checks could be in the mail to some 17,960 current and former Boeing employees by Christmas. Otherwise, Boeing has until Jan. 14 to pay a court administrator, who would issue checks. Individual payments range from $500 to $26,000, said Mike Helgren, the plaintiffs' lead attorney. Boeing admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to change its hiring, pay, [and] promotion complaint investigation practices.

Truck driver suspended for being 'too fat' to work

Source: NBC4.tv
Date: November 8, 2005

An Oregon truck driver was suspended after being told he was too fat to work. Last month a jury disagreed, and turned the case into a landmark lawsuit. For 18 years, John McDuffy has been most at home in the cab of a big rig. His weight is around 550 pounds. But he says his weight never kept him from doing his job safely. In May 2004 he was suspended without pay, told the company had concerns about his health. McDuffy filed a discrimination lawsuit and won. McDuffy's attorney, Christopher Slater, hopes this case sends employers a message about obesity discrimination.

Bias award hits $1 million

Source: Jim Haley, Krista J. Kapralos, Daily Herald
Date: August 25, 2005

The city of Everett [Washington] will wind up paying twice as much as a jury awarded two former public works employees in June as a result of a racial harassment lawsuit. A jury awarded $585,000 to Gary Allen and Brock Bradley, who alleged that a Hispanic supervisor continually harassed them with racial slurs such as "honky" and "white guy." But the cost to the city has jumped to $1.16 million. On Tuesday, Judge George Bowden awarded $380,000 in attorney fees, and gave Bradley and Allen an additional $199,000 so they would avoid a heavy tax hit when they get the award in a lump sum, said their attorney, Judith Lonnquist of Seattle.

Lawsuit against Boeing going back to court

Source: Shirleen Holt, Seattle Times
Date: January 25, 2005

A discrimination lawsuit brought by African-American workers against Boeing is heading to court again. A U.S. District Court judge last week certified a class-action lawsuit on behalf of about 15,000 employees who said they were denied equal pay and job promotions because of their race. The case was first filed in March 1998 by 41 workers. The Rev. Jesse Jackson took part in negotiating the 1999 settlement, which by then covered two lawsuits and represented black employees in all of Boeing's U.S. operations. Some of the class members appealed the settlement, disputing the $4 million legal fee and claiming that the money was being unfairly distributed.

Company to pay, change practices to end gender case

Source: Shirleen Holt, Seattle Times
Date: July 17, 2004

Ending more than four years of litigation, Boeing agreed to pay a total of between $40.6 million and $72.5 million to as many as 29,000 current and former female employees who worked at various Puget Sound sites after February 1997. The plaintiffs' lawsuit claimed that before Boeing began boosting women's wages in 2000, salaried women were paid an average of $1,000 a year less than male peers, and female hourly workers routinely received less overtime than male workers. Boeing agreed to several changes in hiring, pay and promotion practices, as well as in the investigation of complaints about those practices.

Boeing settles sex-bias suit

Source: Renae Merle, Washington Post, Journal Gazette [Indiana]
Date: July 19, 2004

Boeing Co. agreed Friday to pay up to $72.5 million to settle a sex-discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of 29,000 [current] and former female employees at its Seattle-area facilities, where it primarily builds commercial aircraft. U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman in Seattle approved the deal, four years after the class-action suit was filed. It charged the Chicago aerospace giant with giving women workers less pay and fewer promotions than their male counterparts. Under the settlement, Boeing also agreed to monitor salaries and overtime assignments and to conduct annual performance evaluations. Each worker will be eligible for $500 or more, depending on when she worked and how much she earned.

Bias lawsuit recalls pain of ex-Boeing workers

Source: Shirleen Holt, Seattle Times
Date: July 5, 2004

A class-action, gender-bias lawsuit against Boeing has brought [many women's] stories to the surface. Some were part of the suit, which covers 28,000 women who worked for the company between 1997 and 2000. The stories provide a glimpse inside a company where, in some pockets at least, women have long been paid less than men doing the same work, denied promotions because of their gender and retaliated against for being on the wrong end of an office flirtation.

3rd Circuit: worker must arbitrate despite exemption

Source: Shannon P. Duffy, The Legal Intelligencer, law.com
Date: June 23, 2004

In a ruling that adds teeth to state arbitration laws, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a worker who qualifies for an exemption under the Federal Arbitration Act may nonetheless be forced under state law to submit her sexual harassment claim to arbitration. In Palcko v. Airborne Express Inc., a unanimous three-judge panel found that the exemption provisions of the FAA were never intended to have pre-emptive effects on state arbitration laws. The panel said Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas N. O'Neill Jr. was correct in finding that plaintiff Margaret Palcko was exempt under the FAA as a "transportation worker engaged in interstate commerce." But O'Neill erred, the court said, when he went on to hold that such an FAA exemption pre-empts enforcement of Palcko's arbitration agreement with Airborne under Washington state law.

Boeing wins ethnic-bias case

Source: Shirleen Holt, Seattle Times
Date: June 3, 2004

A federal jury yesterday said Boeing did not discriminate against Asian-American and other minority employees in pay or job promotions. Lawyers who brought the class-action lawsuit on behalf of 1,850 technical workers and engineers, including some from Afghanistan and Pakistan, said they'll appeal the verdict. Boeing lawyers said there was no pattern of discrimination in the unusual class of plaintiffs, which labeled workers from Afghanistan and Pakistan as Asian.

Trial nears on class-action suit accusing Boeing of gender bias

Source: Shirleen Holt, David Bowermaster, Seattle Times
Date: May 14, 2004

A four-year legal battle between Boeing and 28,000 current and former female workers in the Puget Sound area will enter its decisive final phase Monday, when the two sides face off in federal court to determine whether Boeing discriminated against women in pay, promotions and job training. Barring a last-minute settlement, Beck v. Boeing will be the largest gender-discrimination class-action lawsuit to go before a jury.

Boeing Girds for Two Discrimination Suits

Source: Reuters, Yahoo! News
Date: May 14, 2004

Boeing Co. on Friday said it has no plans to settle two discrimination class-action lawsuits filed by female and Asian employees, setting the stage for separate trials to begin on Monday. The No. 2 Pentagon contractor and the world's No. 2 commercial jet maker is accused of tolerating sexual harassment and underpayment of women, who say a company study and government investigations showed men got paid more than women doing the same jobs. The second lawsuit is smaller, involving allegations of racial discrimination from 1,850 Seattle-area engineers and technical workers with ties to seven countries: Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Wilson Sues UW, Alleging Gender Bias

Source: Beth Silver, Tacoma News Tribune
Date: April 26, 2004

Former University of Washington softball coach Teresa Wilson sued the university Monday, claiming she and her former players were discriminated against based on their gender, and that she was wrongfully terminated after 12 years with the team. The UW removed Wilson as coach in December and reassigned her to write a report on softball techniques until her $93,000 annual contract runs out at the end of June. The UW alleged Wilson knew, or should have known, that a former team physician dispensed thousands of painkillers, sedatives, tranquilizers and other drugs to her players without written prescriptions. Wilson, who battled UW administrators to keep Dr. William Scheyer with the team, denied knowing whether he did anything illegal. The state suspended Scheyer's medical license in October after alleging he filled hundreds of prescriptions under the names of a softball player and two athletic trainers for drugs he then gave the team and himself.

Female Boeing Workers Get Go-Ahead for Class-Action Lawsuit

Source: Associated Press, The Daily News
Date: April 11, 2004

A federal judge has ruled that a class-action lawsuit accusing Boeing Co. of discriminating against 28,000 current and former female workers in the Puget Sound region will go to trial. U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman denied both parties' motions for summary judgment on Friday, clearing the way for the case to go to trial on May 17. The lawsuit, originally filed in February 2000, alleges that Boeing has systematically paid and promoted women less than men. It also accuses the company of doing nothing to correct pay gaps between men and women even after its own internal studies uncovered evidence of widespread gender pay differences in the 1990s. Boeing has saved hundreds of millions of dollars since the mid-1990s by paying women less than men, Michael Helgren, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, argued before Pechman Wednesday.

Patrol's 1st Female Captain Sues, Says Bias Led to Firing

Source: Michael Ko, Seattle Times
Date: March 19, 2004

Colleen McIntyre, who became the first woman to attain the rank of captain in the Washington State Patrol, sued the department yesterday, saying she faced discrimination and retaliation and was eventually fired, in large part because she is a woman. The lawsuit, filed in Pierce County Superior Court, accuses senior command staff members at the State Patrol, including current Chief Lowell Porter, of conspiring to demote, then fire McIntyre after she complained she was being treated worse than a male captain when both were being investigated for violating an agency rule. McIntyre, who began her career with the State Patrol in 1979, challenged the firing. In February, the State Court of Appeals agreed that she was wrongly fired and ordered her reinstated.

UW Law School Applicants Appeal Discrimination Ruling

Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Date: February 12, 2004

Three white applicants denied entry to the University of Washington School of Law asked a federal appeals court yesterday to overturn an earlier decision ruling out discrimination. U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly ruled in 2002 that Katuria Smith, Angela Rock and Michael Pyle were not entitled to damages even though the law school was then using race as a factor in admissions. That practice, while upheld by the courts, ended in Washington state in 1998 when voters passed Initiative 200.

U.P. Faces 2nd Gender Bias Suit

Source: Stacie Hamel, Omaha World Herald
Date: January 21, 2004

A second class-action lawsuit has been filed against Union Pacific Railroad seeking to require the Omaha-based company to provide prescription drug coverage for contraceptives. Samantha Brand, a U.P. employee who lives near Vancouver, Wash., filed the lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. U.P. spokesman John Bromley said the company had not yet seen the lawsuit but that it appeared to be identical to other lawsuits involving Planned Parenthood and filed against companies around the country.

King County [WA], Workers Reach $24 Million Deal

Source: Keith Ervin, Seattle Times
Date: November 4, 2003

In the third settlement of an employee lawsuit negotiated this year, King County Executive Ron Sims has asked the County Council to approve an agreement that will cost $24 million. The agreement, which has not yet been reviewed or approved by the Metropolitan King County Council, comes within weeks of two other settlements that totaled $9.2 million. Because money already had been set aside for the latest settlement, it would not result in any further budget cuts this year or next, officials said. The council is expected to approve the deal. The settlement resolves lawsuits by two groups of employees who said the county failed to keep its promise to adjust their pay in the wake of the county's 1994 merger with Metro, the regional agency that operated buses and handled sewage. Steve Strong, one of the attorneys who represented employees in the latest settlement, said his clients weren't treated as well as union employees of the county, but he called the settlement "a pretty darn good compromise."

Gender Bias Suit Filed Against CA

Source: Mark Harrington, Newsday
Date: October 14, 2003

Managers at Computer Associates International Inc. subjected a female employee who had returned from a maternity leave to gender discrimination and retaliation when she complained, then fired her while on a stress-related medical leave, according to a suit filed in federal court in Seattle last week. Victoria Stoddard, a 15-year employee, most recently worked in CA's Seattle office before she left to give birth on Aug. 15, 2001. According to the suit, Stoddard said she returned to work after a four-month leave and found her position filled by Patrick McMahon, whom she had earlier trained. She allegedly was transferred to a lesser position with lower benefits and pay, and was forced to make longer commutes and overnight travel.

Crew Accused of Mutiny Over 16.5-Hour Workday

Source: Hal Bernton, Seattle Times
Date: September 26, 2003

In the storm-racked Bering Sea, where winter fish-factory crews routinely labor 16 hours a day, the captain rules the workplace. But on Feb. 2, aboard the Seattle-based Ocean Phoenix ? North America's largest processing vessel ? 25 Latino crew members defied their skipper in what the vessel owner claims was a modern-day mutiny. The spark for rebellion was a workday expanded to 16.5 hours ? an extra 30 minutes of labor that workers said was more than they could or should have to bear. The workers did not wield knives, cutlasses or pistols. They wrote a letter denouncing the longer shift, which they said robbed them of precious downtime to eat, shower and sleep and had a drastic effect on their job performance.

Scientist Files Suit Over Anthrax Inquiry

Source: Judith Miller, New York Times
Date: August 27, 2003

Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, whom senior government officials have identified as a "person of interest" in their investigation into the 2001 anthrax mailings, filed a lawsuit yesterday accusing Attorney General John Ashcroft and other Justice Department officials of having violated his constitutional rights and the agency's own rules by making him a "fall guy" in their inquiry. In the 40-page civil suit filed in Federal District Court in Washington, Dr. Hatfill asserted that Mr. Ashcroft and other Justice Department employees had ruined his life and violated his rights to free speech and privacy by making public information about him to cover their failure to make progress in the investigation of the anthrax attacks in the fall of 2001. The letters containing minute quantities of the deadly germ killed 5 people, infected 17 others and put thousands on antibiotics. By publicly identifying Dr. Hatfill as a "person of interest" in the case and through other information given to the press and innuendos, the lawsuit says, Mr. Ashcroft and the other officials destroyed Dr. Hatfill's professional reputation, making him "not only unemployed, but as a practical matter unemployable."

Fired Mechanic Sues Alaska Airlines

Source: Steve Miletich, Seattle Times
Date: July 31, 2003

A fired Alaska Airlines mechanic filed a wrongful discharge and discrimination suit in federal court yesterday, alleging the company retaliated against him for raising safety and other issues. Mansour Fadaie, 51, of Edgewood, an Alaska employee for 13 years, was fired in May. He alleges Alaska falsely told the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) it had complied with a tool-inspection program it was ordered to perform after the 2000 crash of Alaska Flight 261. The suit seeks more than $150,000 in damages.

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