State Employees Received “Sham” Discipline to Avoid Pay Increases

Two prison employees are suing the state Department of Public Safety, alleging the agency is using “sham” disciplinary warnings to avoid awarding salary raises in an effort to cut costs.

In recent years, state lawmakers have initiated across-the-board salary increases for prison staff in an effort to combat stagnant pay and persistent turnover and vacancies, as mentioned in WRAL. However, plaintiffs in the suit say DPS leaders directed command staff to write up warnings to correctional officers and other prison workers as much as possible before the raises went into effect and enforced a new policy that would render workers facing disciplinary action ineligible for pay increases.

The suit says written warnings issued by the agency more than doubled from 2013 to 2016. The increase in warnings, however, did not prompt a similar spike in demotions, suspensions or dismissals, according to Michael Byrne, a Raleigh-based personnel attorney representing the correctional officers in the case.

Correctional officers in the suit are seeking retroactive pay, an additional $50,000 judgment and an end to what they say is an unconstitutional policy. Byrne said he expects more staffers will join the suit as it moves forward.

If you think your rights have been violated, please contact the attorneys at the California Employment Law Group today for a consultation with an experienced employment lawyer who will clearly explain your rights and options under the law.

Pregnancy Discrimination Is Near An All-Time High

Throughout the American workplace, pregnancy discrimination remains a widespread issue. The New York Times has confirmed after reviewing thousands of pages of court and public records and interviewed dozens of women, their lawyers and government officials.

In physically demanding jobs, pregnant women risk losing their jobs when they ask for accommodations like taking rest breaks. In corporate offices, pregnant women and mothers are often classified as being “less committed and steered away from prestigious assignments, excluded from client meetings and slighted at bonus season,” says The New York Times.

In recent events, tens of thousands of women have taken legal action alleging pregnancy discrimination at companies including Walmart, Merck, AT&T, Whole Foods, 21st Century Fox, KPMG, Novartis and the law firm Morrison & Foerster. The number of pregnancy discrimination claims filed annually with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been steadily rising for two decades and is near an all-time high.

Shelley Correll a Stanford sociologist, presented hundreds of real-world hiring managers with two resumes from equally qualified women. Half of the women hinted that they had a child. In Ms. Corell’s study the managers were twice as likely to call the apparently childless woman for an interview. Ms. Correll called it a “motherhood penalty.”

“There is a cultural perception that if you’re a good mother, you’re so dedicated to your children that you couldn’t possibly be that dedicated to your career,” Ms. Correll said.

If you were terminated or forced to resign due to intolerable working conditions or a hostile work environment due to your pregnancy, please contact the attorneys at the California Employment Law Group today for a consultation with an experienced employment lawyer who will clearly explain your rights and options under the law.

Clarifai Employee was Terminated for Trying to Report Controversial Pentagon AI Project was Hacked

Artificial intelligence company Clarifai was working on a piece of Project Maven, a controversial Pentagon project using machine-learning algorithms to interpret drone-surveillance imagery, and the members of the team were not permitted to discuss the work with others at Clarifai.

“A lawsuit filed by former employee Amy Liu alleges that Clarifai’s computer systems were compromised by one or more people in Russia, potentially exposing technology used by the US military to an adversary. The lawsuit says Clarifai learned of the breach last November, but that Clarifai’s CEO and other executives did not promptly report it to the Pentagon,” WIRED reports.

The former Air Force captain Liu states in her complaint that she was wrongfully terminated from her position as director of marketing for arguing that the company needed to disclose the incident. Another former employee told WIRED that his concerns over executives’ handling of the hack prompted him to leave the company.

As mentioned in WIRED, Liu’s “complaint was filed with the Department of Defense Inspector General, alleging that Clarifai broke Pentagon rules by not reporting the breach within 72 hours, and broke military law prohibiting reprisals against contractor employees trying to disclose information about breaches of department regulations. Clarifai’s spokesperson confirmed that Liu was let go in November but denied the company did anything improper.”

If you’ve been wrongfully terminated from your job in retaliation for exercising a legal workplace right, please contact the attorneys at the California Employment Law Group today for a free consultation with an experienced employment lawyer who will clearly explain your rights and options under the law.

Guess Co-Founder Paul Marciano Resigns After Sex Misconduct Investigation

Guess co-founder and chief creative officer Paul Marciano is stepping down after the completion of a company-commissioned investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

As mentioned in the Chicago Tribune, the allegations of sexual misconduct first became public when model Kate Upton said in a Time magazine interview that Paul Marciano grabbed her breasts during a Guess photo shoot nearly eight years ago. She also stated that he harassed her by showing up at hotels where she was staying and texting her inappropriate comments.

Soon after the allegations, a special committee of the Guess board and an outside law firm launched an investigation, which looked into several reports of inappropriate comments and texts along with unwanted kissing and groping.

The Los Angeles-based fashion company revealed it has settled lawsuits with five of Paul Marciano’s accusers for a total of $500,000.

Attorney Lisa Bloom, who represents four of those women, said “they are pleased with his stepping down as board chair but disappointed he’ll stay on in other capacities.”

If you have been sexually harassed in the workplace, please contact the attorneys at the California Employment Law Group today for a free consultation with an experienced employment lawyer who will clearly explain your rights and options under the law.


Kraft Heinz Company Accused of Racial and Gender Discrimination

Former Kraft Heinz employees have filed two separate lawsuits accusing the Kirksville plant of racial and gender discrimination.

According to Kirksville Daily Express the first lawsuit was filed by an African-American citizen, originally from Liberia, in March 2018. The plaintiff is accusing the Kirksville plant of terminating her because of her pregnancy, race and national origin and the emotional distress led their child being stillborn.

″(The plaintiff)’s alleged tardiness and other false, trivial accusations about her job performance were a pretext to conceal the fact that she was being terminated due to her pregnancy, race and national origin. (The plaintiff), on the threshold of giving birth to her first child, experienced extreme mental anguish and emotional distress over the loss of her job and job benefits, including health care insurance,” documents stated.

A second lawsuit was filed by a former employee accusing the company of racial discrimination. As mentioned in the Kirksville Daily Express, the plaintiff claims a line supervisor intentionally assigned him undesirable jobs, criticized him in front of other workers and repeatedly referred to him as a “boy.”

If you have been retaliated against or discriminated at work, please contact the attorneys at the California Employment Law Group today for a consultation with an experienced employment lawyer who will clearly explain your rights and options under the law.

Multiple Women Accuse Freeman of Sexual Harassment and Inappropriate Behavior

One of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Morgan Freeman has been accused of sexual misconduct by eight women, including allegations of “unwanted touching” and harassment, in a report published by CNN.

CNN interviewed eight women, and other people who say they witnessed inappropriate behavior by Freeman on film sets, while promoting his movies and also at his production company, Revelations Entertainment.

As mentioned in Yahoo News, a young production assistant on “Going in Style” shared with CNN that the actor would make comments about her figure and clothing on a daily basis, as well as touching her back. Because of the harassment, she said she decided to leave the movie industry.

Freeman denies the allegations and in a statement to TheWrap said “Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy. I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent.”

Uber Employee Sues for Sexual Harassment, Racial Discrimination and Pay Inequity

Ingrid Avendaño worked as a software engineer for Uber from February 2014 to June 2017. She recently filed a lawsuit against the company after she experienced sexual harassment, racial discrimination and pay inequity while working there.

According to Avendaño’s lawsuit claim, Uber did not do enough to address allegations of harassment. As mentioned in CNN, Avendaño said that an engineer “repeatedly made unwelcome, demeaning comments about women” in front of her and other employees — and that human resources did not address it when she reported him.

In addition, Avendaño faced fallout afterward, and was “isolated and ignored by many male Uber managers and other employees” who had worked with the man.

CNN reports Avendaño is asking in the lawsuit to be compensated for lost wages and benefits, and for damages related to emotional distress. She wants to be reinstated to her job at Uber.

Avendaño, who is Latina, also made claims of pay inequity in her lawsuit, and said that female and non-Caucasian engineers were paid less and promoted less than white male counterparts.

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.