Employment Overwatch: The EEOC

Employment Overwatch: The EEOC by James Vagnini{Read in 5 minutes} In my previous post, I wrote about the impact an impending Supreme Court decision may have on employee protections — particularly LGBT employees. The issue is whether or not sex discrimination as prohibited by Title VII includes sexual orientation or gender identity protections for employees. While the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has consistently found that it does, District and Circuit Courts have differed on the matter, and the Supreme Court will rule on the issue in their next term. Continue reading

Fire Department Discrimination Against African American Non-Firefighter Employees

Fire Department Discrimination Against African American Non-Firefighter Employees by James Vagnini{Read in 2:30 minutes} The New York City Fire Department is filled with extremely brave men and women, some out in the field and many behind the scenes. While there is certainly a long and illustrious history of dedication and incredible courage, unfortunately over the years there have also been repeated allegations of racial discrimination. As recently as 2014, the city agreed to pay $98 million to settle what is known as the “Vulcan” case to address allegations of racial bias against New York City Firefighters.  Now, in a federal lawsuit, our firm, Valli Kane & Vagnini LLP and Washington D.C. based Mehri & Skalet filed on behalf of civilian workers of the FDNY and a federal judge ruled that the case can move forward.Continue reading

Employment Discrimination-Know Your Rights

Discrimination in the workplace may be difficult to define but when it occurs, you should be aware and ready to take action. Under no circumstance is employment discrimination okay. It is important to know what qualifies as unfair and what factors you should consider before filing a lawsuit against an employer. Understanding employment discrimination in the workplace is vital when it comes to knowing what you must do if it ever happens to you.
So What Exactly is Employment Discrimination?
Employment discrimination occurs when a job seeker or an employee is treated unfavorably or unfairly because of his/her race, skin color, national origin, sex, age, disability, religion, genetic information etc. Workplace discrimination also extends beyond hiring and firing, for example, suggesting preferred candidates in a job ad, denying certain employees benefits or compensation, and discrimination while issuing promotions and lay-offs. There are many more different forms of employment discrimination and laws to protect employees. Listed below are some of the most common cases:
Racial Discrimination – Racial Discrimination takes place when a potential employee, employee or a group of employees are treated differently or unfairly based on their race or because of characteristics associated with race including facial features, hair, or color of their skin. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits discrimination based on race as well as color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.
Age Discrimination – Age Discrimination comes about when an employee is treated in an unfair manner because of their age, for example, being treated poorly because you are ‘too old’. The Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA) protects employees who are 40 years old and older. In addition, under the NYHRL, Section 3-a, it states that it is unlawful for any employer to refuse employment or compensation to any person 18 years old and older because of their age.
Gender, Sexual Orientation, and Hostile Workplace Discrimination

  • Equal Pay-Gender discrimination includes sexual discrimination and/or sex-based discrimination. This occurs when any employer treats an employee in an unfair way or inequitable manner based merely on gender. This includes equal pay for men and women which is federally protected under the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
  • Sexual Orientation-Sexual Orientation discrimination also falls under this category when being homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual or trans gendered impacts the way you are treated in the workplace or during the recruiting process. This kind of discrimination is protected under the Civil Rights Act and would be further be protected in a bill that is still awaiting passage by congress called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
  • Sex/Hostile Work Environment– Also protected under the Civil Rights Act, Sex/Hostile Work Environment is discrimination based in a sexual hostile environment. The “hostile environment” law also applies to harassment on the bases of race, color, national origin, religion, age, and disability.

National Origin & Religion Discrimination – Our country is widely mixed with people from different parts around the globe. National Origin discrimination occurs when an employee is ignored and/or treated poorly because of his or her accent, nationality, or ethnicity. Companies are required to fairly accommodate an employee’s religious and cultural beliefs as long as they don’t negatively interfere with the workplace environment. This act of discrimination is protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Disability Discrimination- The Disability Discrimination Act focuses on the specific needs of the blind, partially blind, physically or mentally handicapped or people with disabilities. Disability is defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) as a physical or mental impairment that considerably limits a major life activity. Discrimination includes denying employment opportunities to people who are disabled but qualify for the position or not accommodating the known physical/mental limitations of disabled employees
Pregnancy Discrimination-There are laws that protect pregnant women and people with disabilities under the Civil Rights Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions must be treated in the same way as other temporary illnesses or conditions. Additional rights are available to women and others under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which is enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor.
If you feel you may be a victim of employment discrimination, let us help you protect your rights. Call the Law Offices of Valli, Kane & Vagnini today for a free consultation.

EEOC Puts New Limits on Criminal Background Checks


criminal background checkThe Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently clarified its regulations regarding how employers use criminal background checks when making the decision whether or not to hire an individual. The EEOC’s decision to clarify those regulations apparently came about as a result of the organization’s long standing concern that criminal history and race are too often associated when employers make hiring decisions. While the EEOC issued a clarification, not a game-changing reinterpretation, it is important for employers and employees to understand these regulations.
Criminal History Should Not Affect Employment
In broad strokes, the EEOC suggests that criminal history should not be a factor in a hiring decision. However, the organization recognized that, in some cases, criminal history is a required factor of consideration in some segments of the American workplace. As such, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has set up a series of best practices designed to prevent or alleviate how an individual’s criminal history may affect a hiring decision.
Background Checks are Not Forbidden
According to Title VII, criminal background checks are not forbidden. In fact, it would be legally impossible to eliminate criminal history as a consideration for hiring in every job in the US economy. For instance, sex offenders must be legally screened from working as teachers in public schools, Banks might require that fraud and larceny not be a part of an employee’s recent past.
Criminal History as a Factor in the Hiring Decision
However, the EEOC’s intent in this clarification appears to be a desire to minimize the importance of criminal history in hiring decisions. But what was the driving factor behind this clarification policy, and how does it relate to Title VII, which says nothing about discriminating against employees on the basis of criminal record? The driving force, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, was race.
Criminal History and Race Discrimination
Title VII regulations’ prohibition against race discrimination may be, according to the EEOC, inexorably linked. The organization posits that criminal history may be used as a protective shield by companies so that they might discriminate racially, especially against African American and Hispanic individuals. If a company amplifies the negative impact of an individual’s criminal background as a smokescreen for racial discrimination, then Title VII regulations have been violated.
If you feel you were turned down for a job due to racial discrimination and inappropriate factoring of your criminal background, you need to speak to a lawyer. Call the law offices of Valli, Kane & Vagnini to find out how we can help.

The American Corporate Landmark Readies Once Again for Litigation


coca cola discriminationOne of the biggest names in American industry is under fire. Complaints of racial discrimination have resulted in a lawsuit against Coca-Cola plants. The Coca-Cola brand is now under fire, with a total of sixteen employees joining together in the claim.
An Isolated Incident?
The accusations are clear, complete, and troubling. The sixteen Hispanic and African American employees claim use of the N-word on the job, other racially derogatory name calling, and preferential work assignments given to white employees while minority employees were forced to do dirty jobs. White workers were permitted overtime earnings, say the plaintiffs, while minorities did not receive the same opportunity. The plaintiffs claim that promotions were purposefully given to white workers in preference over minority workers. Equally troubling to some is that the charges were leveled not against one manufacturing plant, but two. This is not indicative of an isolated incident, but, according to the plaintiffs, a cancerous racial discrimination problem.
Coca-Cola’s Defense
Coca-Cola is firing back, claiming that many of the charges involve incidents that are years old, and resolved. In addition, the company claims several minority employees are defending the company as opposed to the workers who have brought the lawsuit. Coca-Cola further claims that no culture of racial or discriminatory practices exists at the two manufacturing plants in question, which are both based in New York. Finally, Coca-Cola claims diversity is a corporate value, an instilled passion of Coca-Cola associates around the world.
Past Litigation
Coca-Cola has lost racial discrimination cases before. Most notably, the company settled the largest discrimination case in American history in 2000. The accusations were similar: black employees claimed that Coca-Cola denied pay raises, promotions and positive evaluations based on race. The payout was nearly $200 million, a huge blow to a company that stands for American fun. At the time, the corporation avowed commitment to nurturing diversity in its workforce.
A Sound Case, or a Continuing Saga?
Is the latest chapter in Coca-Cola’s storied history of racial litigation a ruse on the part of over a dozen employees, or a legitimate claim against a company that never made good on its decade-ago commitment to ending illegal racial policies? Only the courts can decide.
Are You a Victim?
If you feel you’ve been victimized by discrimination, like the Coca-Cola employees discussed above, you need an attorney that knows racial discrimination law. Call the Law Offices of Valli, Kane & Vagnini now. Take action today to end racial discrimination in the workplace.

Nooses in the Workplace: A Disturbing Trend

Noose, workplace, eeoc, discriminationA noose is placed on a desk or a chair, or on a door or in a locker. The symbolism is clear. Nooses in the workplace are meant to intimidate because of race. The noose of the hangman is meant to be a frightening visual representation of the harassment that included thousands of black people who died at the hands of lynch mobs following the civil war and on into the twentieth century. This history has led to symbolic use of a noose. It has long been a tool of various hate groups. The turning up of nooses in the workplace has been having an affect on black employees, and that affect has been spilling over to affect other minorities.
 
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) officials and law enforcement officials report on this trend. While companies routinely try to settle nooses in the workplace cases out of court, the EEOC are always pursuing dozens of such cases. The EEOC point out that, when in seen light of their overall caseload, these cases are disproportionally high.  The EEOC maintains that nooses in the workplace is a growing trend.
 
Every case of nooses in the workplace has its own distinctive characteristics, but there seem to be elements common to most of the cases brought forward. The noose is almost never the only method of intimidation. Racist slurs, racial epithets, racist jokes, racist graffiti and other ongoing intimidation and harassment usually accompany the noose.
discrimination suit, rascism, workplace
No one knows for sure why these racist incidents have risen lately. Some discrimination attorneys have speculated that there may be a growing intolerance by younger workers not familiar with the civil rights movement and struggles of the 1950’s and 1960’s. The incident may grow out of resentment of some whites over the implementation of affirmative action resulting in diverse workplaces where blacks and minorities were previously excluded.
 
Another reason cited for the rise in such incidents reported to EEOC is a growing number of employers fighting it in court. Some employers are referring to the incidents as banter and horseplay between employees without harmful intentions.Diversity, discrimination, equality, workplace
 
There have been some accusations of minority workers filing false claims for purpose of collecting money. Employment and discrimination attorneys generally agree that a false claim of racially related harassment, violence and misconduct in the workplace is extremely rare. History has borne out that out; there have been only a handful of false claims involving nooses in the workplace. Employment and discrimination attorneys also point out that, when subjected to scrutiny, the false claims are easily brought to light.

Hundreds rally against local oil company accused of racial discrimination


HOUSTON — Rev. Peter Johnson and civil rights activist Sara Kane joined hundreds of African American workers and local residents Monday in a rally against a company they say is doing nothing to prevent racial harassment of minority workers.
The protest was held in front of the Mickey Leland Federal Office Building on 1919 Smith Street around 11:30 a.m.
Protesters urged for a federal investigation of Turner Industries in Houston, claiming there are nooses and rebel flags hung up at the factory. They feel this is a violation of their civil rights.
Turner, a 1.6 billion dollar company that services the oil industry, has had issues in the past related to civil rights in other cities.
Original Press : https://www.khou.com/home/Hundreds-rally-against-local-oil-company-accused-of-racial-discrimination-114949164.html

by khou.com staff
khou.com

Posted on January 31, 2011 at 1:53 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 31 at 11:35 PM