The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is in the business of keeping people from being treated unfairly in the workplace. Somewhat ironically, the vast majority of the EEOC’s employees are at home today, having been forced out of work since the federal government shut down 11 days ago. Their lack of employment during the shutdown is also affecting thousands of employees in the private sector who have been harassed, discriminated, retaliated again, and underpaid.
Due to the EEOC’s shutdown contingency plan, approximately 100 of the EEOC’s nearly 2200 employees are working during the furlough period. According to the agency’s plan, those employees will simply stamp claims of discrimination with their receipt dates as they are filed. Investigation of those charges, however, will not continue until the federal government is reopened and funding is properly restored. [click to continue…]
Madia Law filed a class and collective action lawsuit in February against Regency Beauty Institute (a national for-profit cosmetology school) on behalf of current and former employees in Regency’s Admissions Department seeking unpaid overtime wages. On July 15, U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank granted Plaintiffs’ Motion for Conditional Class Certification.
The five named plaintiffs in the suit worked as Admissions Representatives at Regency; their job was to make phone calls to prospective students regarding Regency and attempt to enroll them in the school. They allege that they were not properly paid overtime pay during their time at Regency and that, when they raised the issue with Regency leadership, they were told not to pursue the issue or “burn bridges.” The lawsuit is described in detail here. Since the lawsuit was filed in February, eleven additional Admissions Representatives have joined.
The Court’s decision allows Plaintiffs to notify – through a Court authorized notice – all potential class members of the existence of the lawsuit and their ability to participate. Additionally, the Court’s decision mandates that Regency post notice of the lawsuit at its workplace so that current employees may also make informed decisions regarding participation in the suit.
Madia Law is currently accepting applications for the position of Legal Assistant. This position in a small civil litigation firm focusing on employment law, business litigation, and civil rights matters. Madia Law is located in downtown Minneapolis near Target Field in the Warehouse District. [click to continue…]
Employment disputes can be tumultuous, often leading to a “your word against mine” situation. However, when one of those parties is a large corporation and the other is just a single employee, the employee can be at a slight disadvantage in terms of the weight given to on their recollection of events by the judge and/or jury. Because of this, the use of an investigator can offer a critical advantage in an employment law case.
You can be assured that the employer is doing their due diligence and attempting to uncover everything that they can about the employee and his or her time with the company. It is in the employee’s and their attorneys’ best interests to do the same. [click to continue…]
The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently agreed to take a case that could potentially lead to the Badger State becoming only the second state to require a warrant before tracking an individual based on their cell phone. In May, Montana enacted a bill that made them the first. See H.B. 603, 63rd Leg., Reg. Sess. (Mont. 2013).
In June 2009, Milwaukee police obtained video surveillance of a suspect purchasing a cell phone before fatally shooting a man. The police acquired the number of the cell phone and obtained a court order to track the phone’s physical location. This tracking led the police to Bobby Tate, who they found wearing the same clothes of the suspect on the video and also blood-stained shoes containing the same DNA as that of the shooting victim. Tate alleges that the police obtained evidence against him by violating his Fourth Amendment rights. [click to continue…]
It’s been a busy week for employment law and civil rights. The impact of the past week’s Supreme Court decisions on these two areas of law cannot be understated. The Voting Rights Act was gutted, killing protections put in place to prevent discrimination at the ballot box. The Civil Rights Act was substantially weakened, stripping minority employees across the country from access to Title VII remedies. And although the news for same-sex couples was brighter, the Court’s narrow decisions on that front leave much work to be done in the struggle for equality.
Wednesday, the Supreme Court released its decisions in United States v. Windsor (the “DOMA” case) and Hollingsworth v. Perry (the “Prop 8″ case). These two cases each had the potential to become landmark civil rights precedent, with monumental significance for gay and lesbian Americans; they were heralded by pundits as the most important civil rights cases of our generation.
Indeed, the decision in Windsor will go down as one of the most significant decisions in Supreme Court history; it struck at the heart of DOMA and declared gay and lesbians deserving of equal protection under the law. The Court’s decision in Perry, on the other hand, will soon be brushed into the dusty corners of irrelevance; in that case, a group of five strange bedfellow Justices entirely ducked the question of whether same-sex couples are entitled to marriage equality. Thus, the struggle for gay civil rights marches on – and there is a lot of ground to cover. [click to continue…]
From Justice Ginsburg’s dissent in today’s Supreme Court Decision in Vance v. Ball State, which narrowly defined “supervisor” so as to limit employer liability (thus, employee protection) in workplace harassment cases:
Exhibiting remarkable resistance to the thrust of our prior decisions, workplace realities, and the EEOC’s Guidance, the Court embraces a position that relieves scores of employers of responsibility for the behavior of the supervisors they employ. Trumpeting the virtues of simplicity and administrability, the Court restricts supervisor status to those with power to take tangible employment actions. In so restricting the definition of supervisor, the Court once again shuts from sight the “robust protection against workplace discrimination Congress intended Title VII to secure.”
Regrettably, the Court has seized upon Vance’s thin case to narrow the definition of supervisor, and thereby manifestly limit Title VII’s protections against workplace harassment. Not even Ball State, the defendant-employer in this case, has advanced the restrictive definition the Court adopts. See supra, at 5. Yet the Court, insistent on constructing artificial categories where context should be key, proceeds on an immoderate and unrestrained course to corral Title VII. Congress has, in the recent past, intervened to correct this Court’s wayward interpretations of Title VII. See Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, 123 Stat. 5, superseding Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 550 U. S. 618 (2007). See also Civil Rights Act of 1991, 105 Stat.1071, superseding in part, Lorance v. AT&T Technologies, Inc., 490 U. S. 900 (1989); Martin v. Wilks, 490 U. S. 755 (1989); Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio, 490 U. S. 642 (1989); and Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U. S. 228 (1989). The ball is once again in Congress’ court to correct the error into which this Court has fallen, and to restore the robust protections against workplace harassment the Court weakens today.
In employment lawsuits, preserving, finding, and utilizing electronic evidence can mean the difference between winning, winning big, or losing on summary judgment. Electronic discovery (“e-discovery”) is an important source of critical evidence that can help you establish proof of discrimination, retaliation, and pretext. Because such evidence can be digitally buried in complex servers and information systems, it is important that your employment law attorney be as sophisticated as possible during the discovery phase of your employment lawsuit.
Does your attorney know all the places your employer stores email and other potentially relevant data? Does your employer’s attorney? At the onset of litigation, the answer to the first question is a definitive no. And it may surprise you that the answer to the second question is often the same. [click to continue…]
On May 24, 2013, Governor Mark Dayton signed HF 542, a bill adding additional protections for whistleblowers. The Minnesota Whistleblower Act (MWA) was originally passed in 1987, and the purpose was to prohibit employers from acting in a retaliatory manner against employees who made a good faith report of any federal or state law or rule adopted pursuant to law. Ambiguities in the language of the statute have allowed for many different interpretations on statutory meaning throughout the years. In Anderson-Johanningmeier v. Mid Minnesota Women’s Center, Inc., the Minnesota Supreme Court dealt with conflicting case law in determining the applicability of a public policy requirement in relation to whistleblower claims. The court concluded that public policy requirement relating to all whistleblower claims was not in accordance with the statutory language. While the additional protections signed into law by Governor Dayton do not deal with the public policy requirement, the additions help to clear up other potential ambiguities within the statute.
HF 542 serves two purposes in aiding the original whistleblower act. First, the new law provides a definitional framework for several key terms that were left for interpretation. Three sections of § 181.931 have terms that are defined in the new law, in an attempt to reduce conflicting interpretations, and to clearly exemplify the laws intent in protection of whistleblowing reports. Second the bill expands the scope reported violations that are protected. [click to continue…]