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Chipotle to Pay $8 Million for Wrongfully Accusing Former Manager of Stealing $636

Jeanette Ortiz was a general manager for 14 years at Chipotle Mexican Grill on Shaw Avenue across from the Fresno State campus. However, in January 2015, Ortiz was terminated after being accused of stealing $626 in cash from the restaurant’s safe, stated a lawyer for Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. There was even video evidence to prove Ortiz’s theft, the lawyer said.

As mentioned in the Fresno Bee, Ortiz denied stealing the money and asked her bosses at Chipotle to see the video evidence, but the company destroyed the video evidence, shared Fresno attorneys Warren Paboojian and Jason Bell, who represent Ortiz in the wrongful termination case she brought against the fast-food giant.

Fresno County Superior Court jurors ordered Chipotle to pay Ortiz nearly $8 million in damages, ruling that she was not a thief, but was a victim of a scheme to fire and defame her for filing a worker’s compensation claim for a job-related injury to her wrist caused by carpal tunnel syndrome.

In closing arguments, attorney Paboojian said the ordeal of losing her job and being labeled a thief caused Ortiz to suffer anxiety and humiliation.

Albertsons Employees Harassed Over No-Spanish Policy

An Albertsons grocery store in San Diego violated the rights of Hispanic employees with an unwritten “English-only policy” forbidding workers to speak Spanish around non-Spanish speakers — even when conversing with one another during breaks or helping Spanish-speaking customers.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Albertsons Companies, Inc., on Thursday in federal court. As mentioned in Los Angeles Times, the lawsuit accuses the Idaho-based chain of discriminating against Hispanic employees at San Diego-area stores, harassing them and subjecting them to a hostile workplace because of their race or country of origin.

“Employers have to be aware of the consequences of certain language policies,” Anna Park, an attorney for the commission’s district office covering San Diego County, stated. “Targeting a particular language for censorship is often synonymous with targeting a particular national origin, which is both illegal and highly destructive to workplace morale and productivity.”

 

Sexual Misconduct at Binary Capital Goes Much Deeper

Binary Capital LLC was hit by a sexual harassment scandal when a former employee sued the company for harassing and defaming her after she resigned from the venture capital firm. Revelations were also made that co-founder Justin Caldbeck made unwelcome sexual advances toward female startup founders.

According to the lawsuit against the firm, the allegations go much deeper than previously known. As mentioned in Bloomberg, Ann Lai, who was a principal at the San Francisco-based firm until May 2016, claims further incidents of bad behavior by Binary Capital’s founders, Justin Caldbeck and Jonathan Teo, in a new filing. In the ongoing lawsuit, Lai lleges that the two founders “demanded headshots of female job applicants to evaluate their attractiveness. They discussed holding a no-clothes retreat for employees, she said. They eventually held a poolside event at a Napa hotel, where attendees wore bathing suits, and an underage intern was given alcohol, according to the complaint.”

Lai, who earned three degrees from Harvard University before spending about a year at Binary Capital, said she left because of its “sexist and sexual environment,” according to the suit.

Hollywood’s Screen Actors Guild Bans Auditions In Hotel Rooms and Residences

Following the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the Times Up movement, Hollywood’s Screen Actors Guild called for the ban on auditions in private hotel rooms and residences, where many reported incidents of sexual harassment and assault have occurred.

“To help protect members from potential harassment and exploitation, SAG-AFTRA released today a Guideline that calls for an end to the practice of holding professional meetings in private hotel rooms or residences,” the group said in a statement.

As mentioned in The Wrap, the change comes after accusations of decades of sexual harassment and assault have been lodged against Weinstein. The film producer has been accused by nearly 90 women in various cities around the world, though he has consistently denied any nonconsensual sex.

The industry has been scrambling to put systems in place to help curtail the abuses of power by men. Women in the industry, such as Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay and Natalie Portman, started a legal defense fund in conjunction with the #TimesUp movement to fight sexual assault, harassment, discrimination and abuses of power in the workplace.

Uber Agrees to Pay $10 Million in Gender and Racial Bias Lawsuit

Uber has agreed to pay $10 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by two women engineers who accused the ride-services company of gender discrimination and race discrimination.

As mentioned in Reuters, the settlement states Uber also agreed to reforms to its system for compensation, reviews and promotions.

The settlement compensates for financial and emotional harm to about 285 women and 135 men of color.

On Oct. 24, Roxana del Toro Lopez and Ana Medina, who described themselves as Latina software engineers, filed an action in the Superior Court, followed by another three days later in the district court alleging classwide gender and race discrimination.

The lawsuit said Uber’s employee ranking system was “not based on valid and reliable performance measures” and favored men and white or Asian employees. As a result they lost out on earnings, promotions and benefits, they added.

Former Hawks Employee Sues Team for Discrimination Against Whites

A former employee for the Atlanta Hawks filed a lawsuit against the team, accusing them of engaging in a pattern of discrimination against white employees.

According to the Washington Post, Margo Kline worked as a community development coordinator for the team and was fired in March 2017 after five years with the Hawks. She subsequently filed a charge of race discrimination and sex discrimination and retaliation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which in December gave her a notice of a right to sue.

In her lawsuit, Kline singled out her supervisor, Hawks external affairs director David Lee, who she described as “a black male,” for promoting “a culture of discrimination against white individuals” and accused Lee of the following:

  • “Being dismissive and exclusionary” toward white employees, particularly white women.
  • “Making jokes about white culture.”
  • “Making it clear that he wanted to hire black individuals” and not “white females” when vacancies arose in his department.
  • “Expecting and requiring more of white individuals, especially white females,” than black employees under his supervision.
  • “Promoting and hiring less qualified black individuals” over white people, particularly white women.
  • Being more apt to “offer raises and promotions” to black employees.

Kline asked for punitive damages, recompense for her fees related to her legal action and a jury trial.

$15 Billion in Back Pay Wages for Lowest-Wage Workers Are Never Recovered

In recent years, the fight for raising the minimum wage has made progress, but unfortunately “wage laws are poorly enforced, with workers often unable to recover back pay even after the government rules in their favor,” reveals Politico after a nine-month investigation.

According to Politico “workers are so lightly protected that six states have no investigators to handle minimum-wage violations, while 26 additional states have fewer than 10 investigators.” Given the limited resources and widespread issue most cases go unreported with “an estimated $15 billion in desperately needed income for workers with lowest wages,” which goes to the pockets of shady bosses instead.

Even if the system is in the worker’s favor and orders their employer to pay back what they are owed, 41 percent of those wages aren’t recovered, according to the survey of 15 states.

“Wages are far too low to begin with, so when money is stolen right out of workers’ paychecks, we have to have effective tools in place to get that money back,” Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown said in a statement to Politico. “But wage theft is just one part of the problem that hard work simply doesn’t pay off the way it should. And that’s true for all workers — whether they punch a time clock, swipe a badge, make a salary or earns tips — they’re working too hard for too little.”

 

Judge Orders UCLA to Pay $13M in Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

A jury has ordered that the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) pay $13 million to Dr. Pinter-Brown for allegedly retaliating against her after complaining of discrimination and harassment, ultimately leading to her resignation.

According to PR Newswire, Dr. Pinter-Brown began working at UCLA Medical Center in 2005 as the director of the UCLA lymphoma program. Throughout her entire tenure at UCLA, she consistently received exemplary peer reviews, awards, and accolades. Until 2013, she was one of only two senior female faculty members in the program.

Pinter-Brown filed verbal and written complaints, but UCLA made no significant efforts to address the problem. She eventually resigned from her position at UCLA in 2015.

On February 15, a Los Angeles jury found in favor of Dr. Pinter-Brown’s claims of gender discrimination and gender retaliation, ordering UCLA to pay her $3,011,671 in loss of earnings and an additional $10,000,000 in damages for emotional distress, for a total verdict of $13,011,671.

Reality Star Farrah Abraham Sues MTV for $5M Over ‘Teen Mom’ Firing

“Teen Mom” former star Farrah Abraham has filed a $5 million lawsuit against MTV and the whole Teen Mom OG production, alleging that she was fired and “sex-shamed” and wrongfully terminated.

According to New York Daily News, Abraham stated her decade-long reign as a main cast member on “Teen Mom” and its spinoff “Teen Mom OG” came to a screeching halt last October after she was confronted at her Texas residence by producer Morgan J. Freeman.

“Freeman, alongside his production crew, harassed, humiliated, discriminated against, disrespected, ridiculed, degraded and sex shamed Ms. Abraham for her recent decision to pursue opportunities in the adult entertainment industry,” the lawsuit filed in federal court states.

Abraham claims the media giant failed to take appropriate action and should be found liable for negligence, breach of contract and retaliation.

Labor Board Rules Google’s Firing of James Damore Was Legal

Google didn’t violate labor laws by firing engineer James Damore for his controversial memo criticizing its diversity policies and “politically correct monoculture”, according to the US National Labor Relations Board.

As mentioned in Boomberg, the statements in James Damore’s 3,000-word memo “regarding biological differences between the sexes were so harmful, discriminatory, and disruptive” that they fell outside protections for collective action in the workplace, an associate general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board concluded.

When Damore was dismissed in August, he accused Google of violating the employee right to engage in “concerted activity” to address workplace issues, a category which the labor board has found can include forms of activism ranging from lawsuits to strikes to social media posts.

Most of Damore’s memo was probably protected under the law, the labor board’s attorney, Jayme Sophir, stated in a memo. But Sophir went on to find that Google discharged Damore only for his “discriminatory statements,” which aren’t shielded by labor law.

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