UMN to Pay Ex-employee $65K in Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

DiscriminationThe University of Minnesota will pay Former employee Alysia Lajune $65,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging she was fired for her comments about racial profiling of African-Americans on campus.

During her employment at the University, Lajune served as the president of the University’s Black Faculty and Staff Association and raised concerns over racial profiling in the University’s crime alerts in 2013.

According to the lawsuit, the University of Minnesota Police Department sent out a wave of crime alerts in the fall of 2013 describing suspects generally, using “black male” without other ways to identify a suspect.

As mentioned in Minnesota Daily, Lajune went on to criticized a University official at a public forum in Jan. 2014. She received a warning letter and her contract was not renewed in Sept. 2014, according to the lawsuit.

If you too have been terminated or fired, review our checklist to help you identify reasons for which your discharge might have been unlawful.

Wells Fargo Executive Fired Whistleblower

FiredFormer Chief Executive Robert Trojan found the organization’s accounting firm had an undisclosed conflict of interest, according to a lawsuit he filed against his former employer and Wells Fargo last month in New York’s Southern District. A day after raising his concerns, he was fired.

As the Huffington Post explains, the lawsuit says that while he was running the Commercial Finance Association, which represents lenders who make loans on companies’ assets and invoices, Trojan found that the group’s auditor, Freed Maxick, wasn’t fully independent. The suit details how Trojan raised the issue of Freed Maxick’s undisclosed business with CFA members to three of the organization’s former finance staffers.  If an auditor was also working for one of the group’s members, it would effectively be working to audit itself. One of the people Trojan said he raised the issue with was CFA’s current president Andrea Petro. Petro’s full-time job is an executive vice president at Wells Fargo, where she runs the bank’s asset financing group.

Torjan’s dismissal was a violation of the Commercial Finance Association’s own whistleblower policy that prohibits retaliation. If you too have been wrongfully discharged from your job in retaliation for exercising a legal workplace right, contact us for aggressive legal representation.

Employee Experience Index Ranks and Scores 252 Organizations Around the World

The Employee Experience Index from IBM ranked and scored 252 organizations around the world based on three environments: culture, technology, and the physical work space. According to the experts, these variables and environments are what employees care about most at work.

Some of the organizations with high scores include Facebook in number one position, Google, Apple, and LinkedIn. Where does your organization score?

Fox News Sued for Racial Discrimination

Justice Two black women who worked in the Fox News payroll department claim Fox New’s longtime comptroller, Judith Slater, subjected them to “top-down racial harassment.”

According to NY Mag, plaintiffs Tichaona Brown, a payroll manager, and Tabrese Wright, a payroll coordinator, allege Slater made racially charged remarks, such as suggesting that black people wanted to cause white people physical harm and that black men were “wife beaters.” According to Times, the lawsuit also claims Slater asked Wright if all of her children were “fathered by the same man,” and that Slater made disparaging remarks about the Black Lives Matter movement and about Wright’s hair and credit score. Slater also allegedly accused black employees of mispronouncing words like “month,” “father,” “mother,” and “ask” — and requested Brown actually say those words in a meeting.

“We are confident that the good men and women of the Bronx will hold Fox accountable for what we believe to be its abhorrent racist conduct, reminiscent of the Jim Crow era,” the plantiffs’ attorneys, Douglas H. Wigdor and Jeanne Christensen of the Wigdor law firm, told the Times in a statement.

If you too have suffered racial discrimination in the workplace, contact us today for a free consultation and learn about the options available to you.

Energy Department Whistleblower is Receiving Justice

Whistle BlowerSandra Black was fired for telling the truth to government investigators. After more than two years, Black has been vindicated and is receiving justice. She won her job back along with lost pay and damages.

As mentioned in the Washington Post, Black is the employee-concerns program manager we wrote about in August when she was introduced at a news conference called by three senators. They complained about the Energy Department’s weak oversight of contractor companies that retaliate against whistleblowers.

“The DOE has the ability to make things right — first by reinstating its rules to punish contractors that retaliate against whistleblowers like Sandra Black, and second, by penalizing this specific contractor for retaliating against her,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said Thursday by email. “The DOE’s failure to take any action would send a dangerous signal to contractors at the Energy Department and across the government that it’s still open season on whistleblowers.”

Age Discrimination at Work

Age DiscriminationAgeism begins during the job search. While the current unemployment rate for people 45 and over is comparatively low — about 3.5 percent versus 4.9 percent nationally — older workers are at a disadvantage when looking for new gigs. They take longer to find work and make up about 45 percent of the long-term unemployed, according to Next Avenue.

About two in three workers between age 45 and 74 have experienced it at work, according to AARP. Most people believe ageism starts in their 50s, though research suggests it actually begins around age 35. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 was supposed to address this unfairness, but in 2015, over 21,000 complaints were filed with the government.

Ageism — both at work and outside the office — isn’t going away anytime soon, but we can help make things better for older employees by just being ourselves.

Standing up for our own qualifications and confronting prejudices against working boomers are just two of the real, actionable measures we must take in addressing larger, more institutional issues.

Are you experiencing age discrimination on the job? Don’t let this happen to you. Fight back! Contact us today for a consultation.


Female Financial Advisers 27% More Likely to Lose Their Job at Wells Fargo

Businesswoman DismissedA new study reveals, female employees who engage in misconduct at Wells Fargo Advisors are 27% more likely than their male counterparts to have lost their jobs.

Wells Fargo Advisors had the highest rate of female workers leaving among the 44 firms studied between 2005 and 2015, as mentioned in CNN Money. It was followed closely by A.G. Edwards, which is also a division of Wells Fargo. The researchers connected the dots and concluded the employees were often leaving because they were fired.

“The financial industry is willing to give male advisers a second chance, while female advisers are likely to be cast from the industry,” wrote professors Mark Egan of the University of Minnesota, Gregor Matvos from the University of Chicago and Stanford’s Amit Seru.

Starbucks Corporate Employees Get More Maternity Leave Than Baristas

Maternity LeaveStarbucks made headlines recently for giving its hourly workers parental leave, but few people paid attention to the inequality stated in the fine print. The company is giving vastly better benefits to its already well-paid, white-collar corporate employees.

According to the Huffington Post, under their new policy, which takes effect in October, Starbucks white-collar employees who give birth to a baby are eligible for up to 18 weeks paid time off. That’s three times as much as the six weeks a woman working in a Starbucks store would get if she has a baby.

All other corporate employees can take 12 weeks paid time off after the arrival of a child, including fathers, adoptive and foster parents. Hourly workers? They get 12 weeks, too. Unpaid.

Now some Starbucks workers are protesting the policy, decrying the unfairness of giving one class of workers more time to spend with their children than another and shining light on a problem that plagues Americans across the country.

Discrimination in the Workplace Common?

Justice A new study by VitalSmarts, a Leadership Training Company, looked at the pervasive effects and attitudes of employees facing discrimination in the workplace. It found more than a quarter of those facing discrimination said it was common, unmanageable and impactful.

As mentioned in Benefits Pro, the discrimination the 500 respondents report is based on race, age, gender, national origin, religion, physical or mental disability, medical condition, pregnancy, marital status or sexual orientation.

Forty-nine percent of those facing discrimination say it happens regularly, and 66 percent say it has long-term effects on their motivation and commitment to advance in the company.


California’s Rules Regarding Mandatory Arbitration

Arbitration is when a dispute between two parties, such as an employer and employee, submit their differences to ultimately be decided in court. A mandatory arbitration refers to an arbitration agreement that an employer requires new employees to sign as a condition of employment or requires existing employees to sign as a condition to continue their employment.

California’s rules on mandatory arbitration are often referred to as the Armendariz standards, based on the name of the leading court decision. Under these standards, an arbitration agreement must be mutual, not one sided, and not impose any added costs or fees on an employee that would not have applied in litigation.

As mentioned by the Society of Human Resource Management, the California Supreme Court’s new decision states that “a provision in an arbitration agreement isn’t enforceable if it waives the right to seek public injunctive relief in any forum. Public injunctive relief is meant to prohibit activities that “threaten future injury to the general public” and allows a plaintiff to ask the court to prevent a defendant from engaging in allegedly unlawful practice in the future.”