The EEOC, on behalf of two Muslim truckers, sued a Morton, IL based trucking company for failure to accommodate the trucker's religious rights when they demanded that their employees convey alcohol. This simple, straight-forward religious accommodation lawsuit belies the often confused regulatory approach to employment discrimination when it comes to religious accommodation and the magic term "reasonable" in terms of the accommodations that employers and employees can expect for their personal religious beliefs.
The Chicago Tribune report on a fire-breathing actor who was injured during his routine provides a model lesson for employers on worker safety and potential administrative action for failing to adhere to OSHA regulations for employee safety.
Here, the employee was an actor who happened to very publicly injure himself when his face and throat caught on fire while attempting a fire breathing routine.
The media firestorm, however, quickly engulfed reality and blew the matter out of proportion. It was so widely reported that an OSHA investigator reportedly showed up at the Civic Opera House to speak to officials and investigate their compliance with OSHA regulations.
The EEOC, despite major budget cuts and a stated goal of suing on behalf of classes or employers engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination, decided to sue on behalf of a woman fired after only 2 days on the job allegedly because she had a prosthetic leg.
The EEOC is the federal administrative agency that authorizes individuals to sue for employment discrimination matters including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (29 U.S.C. § 621-629), and the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.).
As the LA Times reports, the United States Supreme Court is set to weigh in on who qualifies as a supervisor for the purposes of Title VII discrimination litigation.
Respondeat superior, or vicarious liability that employers face for their employee's torts, has always been limited to acts committed in the scope of employment in furtherance of the employer's purpose. Here, the Supreme Court and Title VII limit the application respondeat superior to form liability for the company to supervisors. Who qualifies as a supervisor has generally been those that can hire, fire or punish. In addition, some courts have found that those that control the day to day activities are considered supervisors. Generally those supervisors are mid-level or bottom-level managers who lack the power to hire employees.
As the LA Times article notes, the Justices were very skeptical of both expanding respondeat superior to a "day to day" supervisor and the facts of the Vance harassment claim. It is, based on the oral arguments, not looking favorable for he Court enlarging who can victimize an employee and who is responsible for that harm.
TMZ, courtesy of CNN, reports that a former Price is Right model has been awarded an $8.4M verdict for gender discrimination at her workplace. The award includes over $700,000 in compensatory damages and $7.7M in punitive damages. The model alleged in a 2010 complaint that the producers of the show
A Cook County jury awarded an iron worker, who fell at a jobsite and was left paralyzed and in need of 24 hour care for the rest of his life, $64 million in total damages. The company responsible is planning an appeal but the case is a lesson to both workers and construction companies in compliance with workplace safety procedures and policies. OSHA compliance is critical for the long term survival of both workers and companies.
The Chicago Teachers Union is striking in Chicago right now. The teacher's union hurdled the many procedural requirements to legally strike for wages, but recent changes to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, 115 ILCS 5/1 (IELRA) may have made the strike illegal as wage demands have been met. Below is an unofficial napkin analysis of the legal issues at play. Since some provisions have only been effective for a bit over a year, there is no real precedent on this issue and this napkin analysis reviews the plain statutory law that governs this strike.
The Seventh Circuit, on September 7, overturned a Northern District of IL decision awarding summary judgment to United Airlines over their policy of placing disabled employees in vacant positions only when a more qualified candidate was not available.
In EEOC v. United Airlines, Inc., 11-cv-1774, the EEOC alleged, and the Seventh Circuit agreed, that United Airlines violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to immediately assign disabled employees who required reasonable accommodations to vacant positions as long as they are qualified for those positions and that placing the employees in such positions did not present an undue hardship to the employer.
Employment litigation can often enter the news when it involves salacious or outrageous details, but newsworthy or not, not every employment dispute can be resolved through litigation. Retaliatory discharge (or demotion) claims can often be messy, but employers are not allowed under Federal and Illinois law to retaliate against employees for protected conduct. Employers can insulate themselves from liability by developing procedures and documentation. We can discuss with any size company measures that protect everyone from potential harm.
The anti-retaliation provision of Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") prohibits an employer from "discriminat[ing] against any of his employees . . . because he has made a charge" under Title VII. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a). Title VII allows "a person claiming to be aggrieved" to file a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the "EEOC") alleging that the employer committed an unlawful employment practice, and, if the EEOC declines to sue the employer, the statute permits a civil lawsuit to "be brought . . . by the person claiming to be aggrieved . . . by the alleged unlawful employment practice." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5 (b), (f)(1).
Rishi Nair owns Nair Law LLC and practices as Of Counsel at Keener and Associates, P.C.