Restaurant’s Loafing on Title VII Rules on Pregnancy Discrimination Might Cost It Big

Paternalistic attitudes toward pregnant women die hard in some companies. Restaurants especially, it seems.

The latest food establishment to feel the EEOC’s heat on this is Avalona Enterprises, Inc., doing business as Loafers Lounge in Catonsville, Md.  The EEOC announced on Aug. 25 that it filed a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit under  Title VII against the company because it fired a female waitress because she was seven months pregnant.

According to the EEOC, in June 2014, the employee told her manager that she was pregnant.  Soon after, her manager repeatedly expressed concerns that her pregnancy could be a liability for Loafers.

The manager also told the employee that the restaurant would not allow her to continue working past her seventh month of pregnancy because of its concerns, the EEOC charged.  Despite her two-year tenure, Avalon terminated the employee in October 2014, during her seventh month of pregnancy, EEOC is alleging.

If the allegations are true, the restaurant clearly loafed in complying with Title VII.

You shouldn’t make the same mistake. Here’s the EEOC’s list of do’s and dont’s when it comes to pregnancy.

And here’s the EEOC’s announcement of the lawsuit.

EEOC Recovers Money for Employee Denied Religious Accommodation Over Hand Scanning

A dispute between a West Virginia coal mining company and an employee over biometric hand scanning, which an employee objected to submitting to on religious grounds, has cost the company big in a Title VII lawsuit brought on the employee’s behalf by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The lawsuit charged that Coal Company and its parent company CONSOL Energy, Inc., operators of West Virginia coal mines, requires its employees to submit to biometric hand scanning to track their time and attendance. An employee objected to this practice, citing his religious beliefs. But rather than accommodate the employee, the companies fired him.

That was a Title VII violation, a federal jury found last January. And now the judge overseeing the trial has awarded $586,860 in back pay, benefits and damages to the worker.

The EEOC said that the employee–who worked 35 years for the companies–repeatedly informed company officials that submitting to biometric hand scanning violated his sincerely held religious beliefs as an Evangelical Christian. He also wrote a letter to company officials explaining his beliefs about the relationship between hand-scanning technology and the “Mark of the Beast” and the Antichrist discussed in the New Testament’s Book of Revelation, and requesting an exemption from the hand scanning based on his religious beliefs.

In response, the mining companies refused to consider alternate means of tracking Butcher’s time and attendance and informed him he would be disciplined up to and including discharge if he refused to scan his hand, according to the lawsuit. EEOC charged that Butcher was forced to retire because the companies refused to provide a reasonable accommodation for his religious beliefs.

Here’s the EEOC’s announcement of the court’s award.

DOL Recovers $945K for Workers Denied Prevailing Wage by Calif. Drone Manufacturer

A company that manufactures drones for the U.S. Air Force has agreed to make up for lost wages due its workers under prevailing wage laws, the U.S. Department of Labor announced last Friday.

The company, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., based in San Diego, produces unmanned aircraft systems and tactical reconnaissance radars as well as advanced high resolution surveillance systems. As suppliers that furnish military testing services and logistical support under contract with the Air Force, General Atomics is subject to the requirements of the McNamara-O-Hara Service Contract Act.

That law requires that contractors and subcontractors performing services on covered federal contracts in excess of $2,500 must pay their service workers no less than the wages and fringe benefits prevailing in the locality, or rates contained in a predecessor contractor’s collective bargaining agreement.

General Atomics didn’t comply with the law in paying 901 employees at job sites throughout the U.S., including the China Lake Naval Weapons Center in Ridgecrest, Calif., DOL investigators found.

To make up for that shortfall, the company has paid $945,000 in back wages to these workers, DOL said.

General Atomics agreed to pay its employees the highest prevailing wage among all of its job sites going back for a six-year period.

Read more about the DOL action and contractor response here.

EEOC Sues Bar for Pregnancy Discrimination

The owners of the Moonshine Whiskey Bar in Tempe, Arizona, have some explaining to do about their treatment of a pregnant waitress, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In a just-filed lawsuit, the commission alleges that the bar violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act after one of its managers removed a female waitress from her job after she confirmed to him that she was pregnant (He had asked her). He never scheduled her for work again, nor did he respond to her text messages seeking work.

“Discrimination against pregnant employees is a serious problem and results in women being afforded fewer career opportunities,” said EEOC Phoenix regional attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “Women must be allowed to work and start families while remaining in their careers without fearing for their jobs.”

Read more about the lawsuit, and here are the EEOC’s do’s and dont’s when it comes to pregnancy discrimination.

EEOC: Employer Violated ADA in Making Disabled Worker’s Return to Work Conditional

Employers need to let their workers with disabilities decide when it’s the right time to come back to work, and not impose overprotective rules as a condition of employment.

That’s the lesson from a recent Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against a Michigan company.

The suit filed today charges that Neenah Paper, a manufacturer of various types of premium paper with a paper mill in Munsing, Mich., forbad an employee with a seizure disorder from returning to work without confirmation from his doctor that he no longer had the condition.

And also as  a condition of employment, the company forbade the worker from returning unless he took his medication at work under observation, either in the presence of the plant nurse or designated co-workers, the EEOC alleges.

The ADA doesn’t allow that, the EEOC charged.  “An employer cannot single out an employee who has a disability and impose an over-protective rule on that person as a condition of employment,” said EEOC Detroit Field Office Trial Attorney Omar Weaver. “Such actions represent the kind of differential treatment toward disabled individuals that the ADA was enacted to prohibit.”

Read more about the lawsuit.

NLRB Expands Joint Employer Doctrine

One employer’s exercise of indirect control over working conditions at another employer, or even its reserving the right to exercise that control, is enough to make the two companies joint employers, a divided National Labor Relations Board ruled today.

The 3-2 ruling means that companies that use franchises or subcontractors can be held liable for labor violations by those companies and also be forced to negotiate collective bargaining agreements with unions representing those companies’ workers.

Before this ruling, joint employer required that that one company exercise direct control over the other’s operations. But the board majority said that standard no longer reflects today’s changing economy.

The board decision stems from a 2013 election petition by the Teamsters union, which sought to represent workers at a Browning-Ferris Industries recycling facility in Milpitas, Calif. The workers were employed by Leadpoint, a Browning Ferris subcontractor, to sort out recyclable items and clean the facility.

The petition triggered the question of whether Browning Ferris and Leadpoint were joint employers. An NLRB regional director found that they were not joint employers because they did not share direct and immediate control over conditions of employment, such as hiring, firing and discipline workers.

The union appealed the decision, which led to the board decision on Thursday. Thursday’s ruling means that Browning Ferris and Leadpoint are considered joint employers, and ballots cast in a union election will now be unsealed and counted.

Next on the NLRB’s radar screen: McDonald’s Corporation, which is resisting the board’s effort to find it liable for labor law violations at its local restaurants, arguing that those restaurants operate independent of the main corporation.

Republicans in Congress won’t like this ruling one bit. Expect them to mount a repeal of this rule by legislation. A court challenge to the rule is also possible.

EEOC: Company Didn’t Stop National Origin, Color Harassment of Puerto Rican Employee

Politicians who cry “political correctness” when they use offensive language wouldn’t get away with that dismissive stance in the workplace. Just last Friday the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued a Chicago-area company for national origin and color harassment, based on allegations that foremen and co-workers harassed a worker because of his national origin and color by referring to him as “spic,” “n_____,” “Mexican n______,” “wetback,” “Puerto Rican n______,” and “n______ slave.”

The EEOC’s pre-suit administrative investigation found the company, King-Lar, was aware of the harassment because managers witnessed some of the offensive comments and the employee complained to management, but the company did nothing to stop the harassment, the commission said in announcing the suit.

Harassment based on color or national origin violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the EEOC reminds employers and employees.

Read more about the lawsuit.

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