Archive for October, 2015

$240K Jury Award in EEOC Lawsuit on Behalf of Muslim Drivers Who Wouldn’t Transport Alcohol

A trucking company’s discrimination against two of its Muslim drivers has cost it big time.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced today that a federal jury awarded the two drivers, fired from their jobs at Star Transport because they refused to transport alcohol because it violated their religious beliefs, $240,000.

Both told the employer that making them transport the alcohol would violate their religious beliefs under Islamic law.

The jury awarded Mahad Abass Mohamed and Abdkiarim Hassan Bulshale $20,000 each in compensatory damages and $100,000 each in punitive damages. The presiding federal judge awarded each approximately $1,500 in back pay.

EEOC filed the suit in 2013, as I reported at that time.

Cab Cos. Settle DOJ Claim They Discriminated Against Immigrants With Proper Work Papers

Three taxicab companies in Las Vegas now know better than to require foreign-born workers authorized to work in the U.S. to provide additional documentation.

The three companies–Yellow Cab Corporation, Nevada Checker Cab Corporation, and Nevada Star Cab Corporation, collectively Yellow Checker Star Transportation Company” (YCS)––resolved claims that they discriminated against work-authorized immigrants because of their citizenship status, the U.S. Department of Justice announced yesterday.

DOJ said that its investigators found that YCS violated the Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) anti-discrimination provision by requiring non-U.S. citizens, but not similarly-situated U.S. citizens, to present additional and unnecessary documentation to prove their employment eligibility.

That’s a no-no under the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, which prohibits employers from placing additional burdens on work-authorized employees during the hiring and employment eligibility verification process because of their citizenship status or national origin.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, YCS will pay $445,000 in civil penalties to the United States.

It must also place print advertisements in a monthly trade publication for a period of six non-consecutive months advising employees of the anti-discrimination provision of the INA, undergo monitoring for three years, and train its employees on the INA’s anti-discrimination provision.

Here’s the DOJ announcement of the settlement.

It’s the second time in a week that DOJ has clipped an employer for suspected INA violations.

Auto Center to Pay $22K to Settle Claim It Allowed Harassment of Muslim Arab Mechanic

It seems a safe bet that National Tire & Battery shops in Illinois will think twice the next time that an employee claims to have been the victim of national origin or religious harassment.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced today that it settled a national origin and religious harassment claim against NTB on behalf of an Arab Muslim mechanic who worked at the store’s Orland Park, and Matteson, Ill., locations.

The settlement cost NTB $22,500 in back pay to the ex-mechanic.

Managers and co-workers regularly called the mechanic “Taliban,” “al-Qaeda,” “bin Laden” and “terrorist” and accused him of making bombs, EEOC alleged.

According to the EEOC, NTB knew of the harassment because managers witnessed some of the offensive comments and the mechanic complained repeatedly to management, but the company did not stop the harassment from recurring.

The EEOC reminded employers: “When employers learn of harassment, the law requires that they take prompt and effective action to stop it.”

Read more about the settlement.

Justice Dept. Touts ADA Enforcement Efforts

Slowly but surely, case by case, state and local government employers are scrubbing their employment practices to come into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, removing discriminatory hurdles from their job applications to open more opportunities for individuals with disabilities. That’s according to a web posting last week by the U.S. Department of Justice, which took the opportunity to pat itself on the back for prodding these localities into doing better.

Start with the application, where this year DOJ says it “has reached agreements with a number of state and local government employers to remove discriminatory attitudes and barriers.”

The posting points to the following achievements:

  • a settlement this month against Riverside County, California.  The county had refused to hire an applicant as a youth probation officer because he had controlled epilepsy, even though the applicant could perform all of the essential job duties.  The county’s decision, which was based on outdated and stereotypical attitudes about epilepsy, was illegal.  Under the consent decree, the county has agreed to pay the job applicant $50,000, offer the probation officer position, train its hiring personnel on the ADA and report on compliance;
  • settlements with six different municipalities to remove illegal disability-related questions on employment applications. The following six different municipalities and one state university from across the country have now removed the disability-related questions from their online employment applications: Parowan, Utah; Ruidoso, New Mexico; Fallon, Nevada; Isle of Palms, South Carolina; Vero Beach, Florida; DeKalb, Illinois; and Florida State University.

In addition, says DOJ,  a number of states are moving away from using sheltered workshops in favor of expanding supported employment for people with disabilities, to better provide integrated employment opportunities.

In a “groundbreaking agreement” last month, over 6,000 Oregon residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities will receive supported employment services to give them opportunities to work in real jobs at competitive wages. It’s part of a move away from “sheltered workshops,” institutional settings where participants are segregated from the community and paid well below the minimum wage, the DOJ said.

Read more about DOJ’s ADA efforts here.

 

DOJ: Employer Violated INA By Requiring New Green Card From Lawful Permanent Resident

When a delivery company in the Northwestern U.S. required a lawful permanent resident to reverify his employment eligibility, it stepped over the legal line, the U.S. Department of Justice claimed.

And that eventually culminated in an administrative settlement with the wayward company.

DOJ said that its investigation found that that Postal Express, which delivers items in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, required a Lawful Permanent Resident, who is permanently work authorized by virtue of that status, to produce a particular immigration document to re-verify his employment eligibility even though the employee had already provided sufficient documentation to prove his authorization to work in the United States.

Specifically, the department found that Postal Express improperly required him to present a new Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card) and suspended him when he failed to do so.

That’s a violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act’s  anti-discrimination provision, which prohibits employers from making specific documentary demands or requesting unnecessary work-authorization documents based on citizenship status or national origin when verifying or re-verifying an employee’s employment eligibility, the DOJ said.

Under the settlement, the company must pay a civil penalty and train its employees on the anti-discrimination provision of the INA and to revise company policies to avoid discrimination in the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) process.

The company reinstated the suspended employee and paid him lost wages at the start of the  investigation.

Need a refresher on work authorization do’s and dont’s under the immigration laws? Go to this page on the U.S. Department of Labor website.

NY Restauranteur Eliminating Tips for Wait Staff

Leaving a tip for waiters serving your restaurant meals is a longstanding custom in the U.S., but there are signs that the tradition is cracking.

Starting late next month, there’ll be no more tipping at Danny Meyer’s two-Michilen-star restaurant in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Instead, the cost of labor will be build into the menu price.

Tipping is supposed to compensate a waiter for personal service and the fact that their minimum wage is less than other workers, which is allowed by federal and state minimum wage laws.  In fact, the “tipped wage” can be quite lower than the established minimum wage.

Meyer says, however, that tipping thereby creates an unequal system in which servers can make multiples of what highly trained cooks make for preparing the food, even though a waiter’s base minimum wage is less.

Better, he says, that restaurants take a “team” approach in which everyone shares in the restaurant patrons’ generosity.

There’s a restaurant in Washington, D.C., that has also adopted a no-tipping policy. Sally’s Middle Name, which opened this summer, adds an 18 percent service charge that is split evenly among all employees working a shift. Servers’ base pay there is $10.50 per hour, while the District’s tipped minimum wage is $2.77 per hour.

Some restaurants have been caught abusing the tipped wage set-up.

OSHA Gives Public Until Oct. 28 To Submit Comments on Workplace Injury Reporting Rule

You’ve got about another two weeks to submit comments to the U.S. Department of Labor on the proposed rule that clarifies an employer’s continuing obligation to make and maintain an accurate record of each recordable injury and illness.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the proposed rule “to clarify its long-standing position that the duty to record an injury or illness continues for as long as the employer must keep records of the recordable injury or illness. The proposed amendments add no new compliance obligations; the proposal would not require employers to make records of any injuries or illnesses for which records are not already required.”

OSHA extended the comment period in a Sept. 21 announcement. October 28 is the last day to submit comments.