The University of Iowa to Pay $6.5 Million Settlement

The University of IowaThe University of Iowa will pay $6.5 million to settle a lawsuit alleging discrimination and retaliation targeting a gay athletics administrator and her partner, a long-time coach at the school.

As mentioned in Bloomberg, Jane Meyer, a former senior associate athletic director at Iowa, and Tracey Griesbaum, Iowa’s former women’s field hockey coach, agreed to settle their claims against the Iowa Athletics Department.

The settlements come two weeks after Meyer won a $1.4 million jury verdict against Iowa. Meyer had alleged she was fired and suffered retaliation because of her gender, sexual orientation and her relationship with Griesbaum. Griesbaum’s lawsuit, containing similar allegations of discrimination and retaliation, had been scheduled for trial on June 4.

Under the agreements, Meyer and Griesbaum agreed to withdraw their actions and Iowa will provide $3.9 million to Meyer and $2.6 million to Griesbaum.

Magic Leap Settles Hostile Environment Sex Discrimination Lawsuit

Hostile EnvironmentLocal billion-dollar startup Magic Leap was sued for sex discrimination earlier this year by former VP of strategic marketing, Tannen Campbell, who was actually hired to help create a more female-friendly product.

According to Engadget, Campbell initially sued Magic Leap for “hostile environment sex discrimination and retaliation,” citing anecdotes that paint Magic Leap as having a misogynist culture. The lawsuit says that the company does not value women for their technical skills, while it also stereotypes them as homemakers, wives and sex objects. The suit alleges that Magic Leap’s management are aware of the gender-based hostility within the company. It describes a 50-slide presentation Tannen created about gender diversity in the workplace that was cancelled six times, a “Female Brain Trust Initiative” that was only window dressing and an app that was to be bundled with the company’s headset in which the sole female character was only shown groveling at a male protagonist’s feet.

It’s not just reports of sexism, either. The lawsuit also claims that when IT support lead Euen Thompson was asked a question during a tutorial session for new hires, he reportedly said that women always have trouble with computers. He then followed up with, “In IT We have a saying; stay away from the Three Os: Orientals, Old People and Ovaries.”

Notice of the confidential lawsuit settlement was filed Tuesday and signed by Judge William P. Dimitrouleas.

UploadVR Sued for Sexual Harassment and Discriminating Female Workers

harassing A San Francisco-based news startup, UploadVR has been sued by a former employee for inappropriate behavior at the workplace, including gender discrimination, sexual harassment and wrongful termination.

As mentioned in CBS SF Bay Area, the suit alleges the UploadVR’s San Francisco office was a hostile environment for female employees, and the co-founders goal was to create a kind of “boy’s club” at the office. According to the complaint, “The atmosphere … was marked by rampant sexual behavior and focus, creating an unbearable environment for Plaintiff and other female employees.”

The executive claims there was a room set aside equipped with a bed, designated the “kink room” where condoms and underwear were sometimes left behind by employees having sex on the job.
“In the office, Defendants would frequently talk about how much sex they were going to have at each party, and how many girls they were going to have sex with. UploadVR even set up a room to encourage sexual intercourse at the workplace. The room was referred to as the “kink room” and contained a bed. Male employees used that room to have sexual intercourse, which was disruptive and inappropriate. Often, underwear and condom wrappers would be found in the room.”

Pregnant Walmart Workers File a Lawsuit Against the Retail Giant

WalmartTwo former Walmart employees have filed a lawsuit accusing the retailer giant of treating thousands of pregnant workers as “second-class citizens” by rejecting their requests to limit heavy lifting, climbing on ladders and other potentially dangerous tasks.

As mentioned in Reuters, the proposed class action lawsuit was filed in federal court in Illinois on Friday by Talisa Borders and Otisha Woolbright, who say that until 2014, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart had a company-wide policy that denied pregnant women the same accommodations as workers with other disabilities.

The class could include at least 20,000 women and possibly up to 50,000 who worked at Walmart while pregnant before the policy change, according to the lawsuit.

SpaceX in Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

Judge Jason Blasdell filed a lawsuit against Space Exploration Technologies Corp. claiming he was fired after raising concerns about the safety procedures. A judge dismissed the defamation allegation but ruled that the plaintiff could take his wrongful termination and retaliation claims to trial.

According to Patch, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Fahey issued his rulings Wednesday in the lawsuit brought in April 2016 by Jason Blasdell. The judge heard arguments April 24 on SpaceX’s motion to dismiss the entire lawsuit, then took the case under submission.

Judge Fahey said the trial will focus on whether Blasdell had a reasonable belief that SpaceX was falsifying rocket-test documents and whether he was fired for false reasons. The trial is scheduled May 22.

In his lawsuit, Blasdell says he received consistently positive reviews from management while working at the rocket and spacecraft manufacturer’s Hawthorne headquarters as an avionics test technician from 2010 until his 2014 firing. He says he began seeing safety issues related to the testing procedures of rocket parts, leading him to question the quality of the testing and the risks it posed for not just the rockets potentially exploding, but for the potential loss of human life, as well.

A West Hollywood Worker Sues for Wrongful Discharge

JusticeMichelle Rex claims she was fired in retaliation for her role as a witness into a colleague’s allegations of harassment and improper electioneering. However, a lawyer for the city said the woman and others in her position lost their jobs for business reasons.

According to West Hollywood Patch, the lawyers made their pitches to a Los Angeles Superior Court jury hearing opening statements in trial of Michelle Rex’s lawsuit against the city of West Hollywood. She says she worked as a deputy to Councilman John D’Amico from March 2011 until she was fired in January 2016. She filed the lawsuit two months later, alleging wrongful discharge, retaliation and failure to prevent retaliation.

D’Amico and the council majority voted to eliminate Rex’s position and that of Ian Owens, a deputy to Councilman John Duran. According to Rex’s lawyer, Mark Quigley, Rex was a witness in the probe into allegations by Owens that he was harassed by his boss.

Owens also alleged improper solicitation and electioneering by Councilman John Heilman’s deputy, her suit states.

The Wage Theft Problem in California

No Money A new report by Economic Policy Institute shows that low-wage workers in California lose nearly $2 billion a year to minimum wage violations committed by their employers. That’s about about $64 a week, $3,400 yearly and 22% percent of their earnings!

As mentioned in Daily News, minimum wage violations hurt low-wage workers in every demographic category, but the institute’s report found that young people, women, people of color and immigrant workers are disproportionately impacted by these violations, as they are more likely to work in low-wage jobs. If the study — which covers more than 50 percent of the U.S. workforce — is representative of the country as a whole, the authors estimate that American workers are being cheated out of more than $15 billion a year.

Six organizations have joined forces to combat wage theft in the workplace, according to Daily News. They’ve formed a statewide collaborative called Make Work Pay, which will focus heavily on wage theft in California, since it’s the most populous state in the U.S. Members of the collaborative include the Center on Policy Initiatives, East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, National Employment Law Project, Southern California Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, Working Partnerships USA and Worksafe.

Their goal is to build on California’s legislative wins that raise wages and strengthen labor standards enforcement.

Trump Donor Robert Mercer Sued by Employee for Wrongful Discharge

DismissedFormer research scientist at Renaissance Technologies, David Magerman has filed a lawsuit against one of President Trump’s top financial supporters, Robert Mercer for wrongful discharge.

The complaint filed in federal court in Philadelphia, Magerman claims Mercer violated his civil rights for terminating him for exercising his right to free speech to criticize “what he believes are hateful statements and policies from President Trump and Mercer’s support thereof.”

“Mercer’s conduct is an outrageous attempt to deny Magerman his constitutional and federal statutory rights,” the complaint says. “Mercer’s decision to suspend and subsequently fire Magerman violates a clear mandate of public policy against forced political speech and conditioning employment on political subordination.”

According to Forbes, Magerman claims in his complaint that earlier this year he reported one troubling conversation he had with Mercer to Renaissance co-CEO Peter Brown. Before speaking publicly, Magerman says he wrote a memorandum to several Renaissance employees and was told verbally by Renaissance’s Chief Compliance Officer Mark Silber that the comments Magerman intended to make were permissible under company policy.

Former Mortuary Worker Files Lawsuit Over ‘Mental Anguish’ at Work

You're FiredFormer employee, Jeremy Glen Hoes has filed a lawsuit against Accucare Mortuary Services for wrongful termination after claiming he suffered post-traumatic stress following his handling of the bodies of a mother and 3-month-old son who were brutally killed.

Hoes said he was fired for threatening to file a workers compensation claim after performing work on Shanna Riddle Vandewege and her 3-month old son, Diederick. Her husband, Craig, has been charged with capital murder.

According to Hoes’ attorney, Robert Goodman, and court records, Hoes worked at Accucare for at least three years, and suffered a “post-traumatic stress reaction” after working on the bodies on Dec. 16.  He was also injured after handling the body of a man in November who committed suicide by ingesting paint fumes.
As mentioned in Star Telegram, Hoes said he told his employers that he planned on filing workers compensation claims from the two cases, but was told not to because the amount of premiums and exposure associated with such coverage were unreasonable and that they would pay for his medical expenses, records show.

Hoes said he was fired in January, two days after he said he planned on filing the claims. He was told that his services were no longer needed, the lawsuit states.

Diddy Sued for Sexual Harassment by Former Chef

DismissedSean (Diddy) Combs is being sued for allegedly making his personal chef, Cindy Rueda serve him up post-sex meals.

Rueda claims she was hired to be a weekend chef for Combs in January of 2015. In September of 2015, she began working for Diddy full-time and often traveled with Diddy.

As described in NY Daily News, Cindy Rueda, alleges she was required to cook for Combs during or immediately after sexual activity and that he would make comments to her about his naked body, according to a complaint filed Monday.

The personal chef then states in the suit that she was set up to look like she stole one of Diddy’s watches after complaining about the treatment she received and was asked to sign a waiver stating that she wouldn’t make any claims against Diddy in the future, which she refused to sign and was ultimately fired.

Reuda is suing for wrongful termination, sexual harassment, and violation of whistleblower protection.