an update for the week of october 16, 2006
today's workplace: the employee rights blog
Wal-Mart: Worldwide Humanitarian?: Just when you think you've seen it all, then you see something that still has the capacity to make your blood boil. For me, this week, it was the following statement, found on the editorial page of the New York Times: "Has any organization in the world lifted more people out of poverty than Wal-Mart?" No matter how many times I blinked, the statement didn't go away, so I had to figure out what it was really about. Unsurprisingly, it was based on so many fallacies that I almost felt sorry for those who actually believe this stuff -- except of course, there's far too many people who will get sucked in.
this week in the courts
Bisbal-Ramos v. Rodriguez ?(First Circuit; No. 04-2568)
Decision Date: October 11, 2006
Denial of judgment as a matter of law for defendants in a case alleging harassment and termination of employment in violation of plaintiff's First Amendment rights is affirmed where: 1) there was sufficient evidence to allow the jury to determine that plaintiff was deprived of duties in retaliation against his political affiliation; and 2) defendants had knowledge of the activities and did nothing to prevent them. One defendant's challenge to punitive damages and assertion of qualified immunity is denied where: 1) there was evidence from which the jury could have found that defendant acted with reckless indifference to the foreseeable adverse effect on plaintiffs' rights; and 2) it was unreasonable for defendant to believe that his actions were legal.
Bates v. United Parcel Serv., Inc. ?(Ninth Circuit; No. 04-17295)
Decision Date: October 10, 2006
In the context of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): 1) when plaintiffs challenge an employer's use of a safety-based qualification standard, they need not, independently of that challenge, establish generally that they can perform the essential function of doing the job safely; 2) they are, however, required to show they are "qualified" in the sense that they satisfy prerequisites for the position, including safety-related prerequisites, not connected to the challenged criterion; 3) also, they have the burden to prove that the challenged qualification standard "screen[s] out or tend[s] to screen out an individual with a disability or a class of individuals with disabilities;" and 4) the burden then shifts to the employer to establish the business necessity defense.
Hardin v. First Cash Fin. Servs., Inc. ?(Tenth Circuit; No. 05-6090 and 05-6107)
Decision Date: October 9, 2006
Under Oklahoma law, an arbitration agreement allowing a company the unilateral right to modify or terminate the agreement is not illusory so long as reasonable restrictions are placed on this right. In a suit alleging sex discrimination by plaintiff's former employer, denial of defendant's motion to compel arbitration is reversed where: 1) the district court properly issued a stay, and an order denying the employer's motion to compel arbitration was appealable as a final order; 2) under Oklahoma law, plaintiff's conduct in continuing employment after a certain date manifested her assent to be bound by the terms of an arbitration agreement; and 3) the agreement was not illusory, and was enforceable.
The Good, the Bad, and Wal-Mart
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Wal-Mart: Bad for Workers, Bad for America
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