The ability to safely, calmly, and professionally interact with the public without violence is an intrinsic and basic part of law enforcement. In a case settled this past Friday with the City of Minneapolis, Madia Law client Ernest Abbott alleged that on November 12, 2009, Minneapolis Police Officer Christopher Steward showed a lack of those essential skills, a shocking disregard for Mr. Abbott’s rights and dignity, and a disrespect for the laws of the United States. Mr. Abbott, who was 16 years-old and weighed 130 pounds, alleged that Officer Steward severely beat him, kicking and stomping on his head and face.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) is a federal law that, among other things, prohibits employers from failing to pay overtime to its employees and attempting to avoid paying overtime by classifying employees as “salaried” who should, by law, actually be paid for each hour worked. For such employees, time worked over forty hours must be compensated at time and a half. Minnesota also has a version of the the FLSA under its own state laws.
On February 18, Madia Law filed a class and collective action lawsuit in federal court against Regency Beauty Institute (a national for-profit cosmetology school) on behalf of employees in Regency’s admissions department who were: (1) initially misclassified as “salaried” employees, (2) were not paid for time worked over forty hours during the misclassification period, and (3) after they were properly classified as “hourly” employees, were required to work off the clock so Regency could avoid paying them overtime wages.
In November 2012, Madia Law sued a Twin Cities accounting firm on behalf of a learning disabled accountant. The young accountant, who has suffered from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (“ADHD”) since he was a child, disclosed his disability to his supervisor at the time of his first performance evaluation.
Despite being fully capable of being successful at the job, the young man wanted to be sure his supervisor knew that he thinks, learns, and works in a different way than others, particularly since he noticed a few comments on his evaluation that seemed to signal a concern with the way he processed information and executed tasks. The accountant felt that it would help everyone involved to be aware of his slight disability. But, soon after disclosing his disability and requesting slight accommodation, he was fired. [click to continue…]
A San Diego hospital and doctor have been sued by an 18-year-old intern who alleges sexual harassment, sexual battery and assault, hostile work environment, and negligence. The plaintiff, who was only 17 at the time he began an internship at San Diego Memorial Hospital, alleges that cardiologist David Hicks sexually harassed and assaulted him and that the hospital failed to adequate address a pattern of sexual harassment at the hospital.
In Minnesota, hospitals and clinics that receive complaints of sexual harassment by doctors (either from employees or patients) have many reasons to err on the side of caution when deciding whether or not to discipline such doctors. In addition to employment law claims, hospitals may be subject to a tort action for negligent retention of the doctor if the same alleged harasser goes on to sexually harass and/or assault another employee or patient. Further, there are significant protections under Minnesota law for healthcare employers who take such preventative actions as to remove the doctor’s employment and/or privileges to practice. [click to continue…]
St. Paul Police Officer Jesse Zilge is at home this week, pending the results of an expedited internal affairs investigation. Video uploaded to Youtube on August 28th shows Zilge kicking an unarmed man in what appears to be either the face, throat, or chest. While the video clearly raises concern with regard to the officer’s conduct, it is particularly disconcerting in light of Madia Law’s recent jury trial victory against St. Paul Police Officer Adam Bailey, as it also raises the serious question of whether there is a pattern and practice of excessive force and police misconduct in the St. Paul Police Department.
Based on the video, it appears the victim will have a viable civil lawsuit against Zilge for excessive force, a claim made possible by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution via Title 42 U.S.C § 1983. [click to continue…]
As published in the Harvard Law & Policy Review, Kevin M. Clermont & Stewart J. Schwab observed that from 1979-2006, plaintiffs bringing employment law matters (discrimination, wrongful termination, etc) in federal court won only 15% of the time. When paired with the observation that plaintiffs in non job-related matters won 51% of the time, that 15% figure is stunning. Questions as to why there is such an imbalance in employment law compared to other areas of law have been the focus of many journalists, lawyers and academics. But for attorneys who represent plaintiffs in employment discrimination cases, there is one key factor worth focusing on: properly preparing a case to survive motions for dismissal, particularly summary judgement motions.
Minnesota police departments, like many across the nation, are rapidly expanding their use of video technology by individual police officers. Gone is the day when officers were limited to using traditional COPS-style dash-cams to record what was happening directly in front of their police cruiser. Individual officers can now wear cameras on their heads, which allow them to record virtually everything they see in the course of their duties. Police departments are also using a plethora of other technology to supplement video evidence. Such video documentation has been critically important in protecting police and providing crucial evidence; such as in this case from Burnsville, Minnesota.
Video screenshot: copblock.org
As video camera technology expands for police, however, so it does for the average citizen. Read More . . .
Minneapolis Police Sergeant David Clifford, 47, is the executive member of the SWAT team and a 19-year department veteran who has twice received the Medal of Valor. Last week, Clifford was charged with felony assault after he punched Brian Vander Lee in the head at Tanners Station in Andover. Clifford’s actions resulted in Vander Lee requiring life support and at least two brain surgeries. In addition to the serious criminal charges Anoka County has brought against Clifford, he will undoubtedly be named in a civil lawsuit as well. Although Clifford was off-duty, in an interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press his criminal defense attorney alleged that Clifford was responding to Vander Lee’s “out of control” behavior. Such assertions, if maintained by Clifford, may have liability implications for the City of Minneapolis in a civil lawsuit against Clifford. Read More . . .
Tuesday’s decision in Perry v. Brown (the “Prop 8” case) means that roughly one year from now, it is likely that the United States Supreme Court will be giving its opinion on the now infamous 2008 ballot proposition that resulted in barring Californian gay couples from joining in marriage. Justice Anthony Kennedy will ultimately decide the fate of millions of gay people who wish to join in the civil institution of marriage, and his opinion will likely have a significantly broader impact on cases involving sexual orientation discrimination.
The law firm of Madia Law LLC is located in Minneapolis, MN and represents employees throughout the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota, including: Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington, Edina, Eden Prairie, Maple Grove, Maplewood, Eagan, Woodbury, White Bear Lake, Richfield, Minnetonka, Wayzata, Vadnais Heights, Blaine, St. Cloud, Lakeville, Shakopee, Prior Lake, Burnsville, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Carver County, Washington County, Dakota County, Scott County, and Stearns County.