Race and Gender Discrimination. WSBTV in Atlanta reported on an award of $1.18 million against Fulton County as the result of discrimination based on race and gender. Doug Carl worked for Fulton County's Department of Human Services. He was working as the interim director, when he was denied a promotion to director. He claimed that former County Manager Thomas Andrews and Commissioner Emma Darnell wanted "to replace the African-American female who left the position with another "African-American female and that Darnell had stated 'there were too many white boys on staff'". Last year, after a jury trial, Carl was awarded $300,000 in back pay. Last week, the judge's order awarded additional amounts as a result of Carl losing his pension and 5 years of future pay. The court has yet to rule on Carl's claims for attorney's fees and expenses.
Practice pointer. The jury decided this case in favor of Carl. It is currently on appeal, so the legal fee meter is still running. Employers must be careful about what they say: it can be very costly, in dollars, time, and bad publicity.
ADA Lawsuit Against Hooters. In St. Louis, Sandra Lupo worked as a waitress at a local Hooters. Last summer, she had brain surgery, and she returned to work with a buzz hair cut and a healing scar. She alleges that her boss manager visited her in the hospital and told her she could return to work wearing a "chemo cap" or jewelry to distract attention away from her hair and scar. Although she was promised she could return to work following her surgery, the regional manager told her that she could not work unless she was wearing a wig. According to Lupo, wearing a wig would impair her healing. She refused to wear a wig, and her hours were cut until she was forced to quit. Her lawyer claims that she was humiliated by the way Hooters treated her, but that the surgery did not cause any long term problems. She recently filed suit alleging that she was terminated in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination based on an actual physical or mental impairment, a history of having an impairment, or being regarded as having an impairment.
Practice pointer. Employers should train all employees, including management, about what is required, and what is prohibited, under state and federal laws. At the very least, management should be made aware of when to ask questions concerning employment issues, especially if their conduct results in termination, whether voluntary or involuntary.
EEOC Sues Bojangles' For Religious Discrimination. In North Carolina, the EEOC filed suit against Bo-Cherry, a NC corporation that operates a number of Bojangles' restaurants in the Charlotte area. A male employee, who was a practicing Muslim for 14 years, applied for a job at Bojangles'. After he was interviewed, the manager told him that he might have to cut his beard. The employee advised the manager that he was a Muslim, and could not cut his beard. He was hired and began work the following it. The next day, the manager allegedly told him that he had to shave his beard if he wanted to continue working for Bojangles. He refused, telling his manager that he could not shave it due to religious reasons. He refused to shave, and he was fired. The EEOC filed suit, and is seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, reinstatement and injunctive relief.
Practice pointer. I feel that I need to emphasize what I wrote above: Employers should train all employees, including management, about what is required, and what is prohibited, under state and federal laws. At the very least, management should be made aware of when to ask questions concerning employment issues, especially if their conduct results in termination, whether voluntary or involuntary.