Articles Posted in Employment Law

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ist1_6313560-isolated-smart-phone-in-left-hand.jpgAccording to Business Insurance, the Chicago Police Department is being sued by a sergeant on the force for overtime that he asserts was earned while using his smart-phone while he was off the clock. The lawsuit is a proposed class action.

Pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), nonexempt employees are to be compensated for time spent working over forty hours per week. This work does not necessarily need to be required by the employer. It can be work merely for the benefit of the employer. Thus, the existence of a smart-phone and its subsequent use off of work hours by a nonexempt employee may cause overtime pay issues for the employer.

In this case, the sergeant with the department alleges that he was provided the smart-phone for the purposes of accessing voice mails, work related emails, and department texts. He claims that much of the department work was accomplished with use of his smart-phone. Therefore, he is seeking overtime pay for the time he spent working beyond the forty-hour work week.

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Our firm receives many calls with questions about discrimination claims. However, unfortunately, some individuals miss the time limits for filing a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC. Prior to filing a job discrimination lawsuit against your employer, relating to the laws enforced by the EEOC, you are required to file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC. It is important to know that you only have a limited amount of time to file this Charge of Discrimination.

As discussed on the EEOC website, you must file a charge within 180 days from the day the discrimination occurred. You will have 300 days “if a state or local agency enforces a law that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis.” Keep in mind, the time rules for filing a charge of age discrimination is different. The filing deadline will only be extended to 300 days “if there is a state law prohibiting age discrimination in employment and a state agency or authority enforcing that law.”

Please note, however, individuals working for the federal government or those applying for federal jobs have a different process for filing a charge of discrimination. They must contact an EEO counselor within 45 days. There are exceptions that may extend the time limit.

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Our office often receives calls from individuals regarding employment discrimination and we thought it may help our blog readers if we outlined several federal laws which prohibit job discrimination. As you will see, these laws are meant to protect individuals from discrimination in the workplace, whether it be in the private realm or within the local, state, or federal government.

1) Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VIII): This act specifically prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

2) Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA): The act addresses the situation where men and women who perform substantially the same work in the same establishment and prohibits unequal pay based upon sex.

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According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Sears, Roebuck and Co. (Sears) has agreed to settle a class lawsuit for the sum of $6.2 million and other remedial relief. It was alleged by the EEOC that “Sears maintained an inflexible workers’ compensation leave exhaustion policy and terminated employees instead of providing them with reasonable accommodations for their disabilities, in violation of the (Americans with Disabilities Act).”

This lawsuit arose after the EEOC investigated a charge of discrimination filed by a former Sears service technician, John Bava. It is said by the EEOC that after Bava was injured on the job, leaving him with a disability, Sears did not provide Bava with an accommodation to return to work, despite Bava’s repeated attempt to return to work. In fact, once Bava’s leave expired, it is said that Sears terminated Bava’s employment. The EEOC says that Pre-trial discovery concerning Bava’s claims uncovered the fact that Sears had terminated hundreds of other employees who had taken workers’ compensation leave, failing to consider reasonable accommodations to return these employees to work.

Sears has agreed to an injunction preventing future violations of the ADA and retaliation against employees. Sears has also agreed to “amend its workers’ compensation leave policy, provide written reports to the EEOC detailing its workers’ compensation practices’ compliance with the ADA, train its employees regarding the ADA, and post a notice of the decree at all Sears locations.”

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According to The New York Times, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed an age discrimination lawsuit against AT&T. Specifically, it is alleged by the EEOC that AT&T, the largest telecommunications provider in the United States, “discriminate(s) against older employees by denying them the chance to be rehired solely because they left under early retirement plans.” This discrimination caused older workers to not have the same opportunities when applying for re-employment as younger workers would have with AT&T.

The EEOC alleges that AT&T has had this policy of discrimination since 2006, causing the exclusion of older workers from being re-employed with the company solely as a result of their age, with no regard to their qualifications. It is unknown how many workers this discriminatory practice harmed; however, the early retirement programs have involved over 50,000 individuals. Of course, the workers affected would be only those who sought re-employment with AT&T.

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court in Manhattan. Although AT&T would not comment specifically on the lawsuit, they did note that “AT&T makes diversity and inclusion a top priority.”