$1.8 M Settlement for Allegations of “Steering”

steering, lawsuitA “steering” allegations settlement has been reached between G&K Services, a company that manufactures branded uniforms and facility products, and the U.S. Department of Labor regarding allegations of gender discrimination. The settlement involves G&K paying over $1.8 million to affected employees at nine locations – including a facility in Sacramento.

A compliance review by the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) found that female employees of G&K were allegedly steered into duties that paid less than the duties that were predominantly assigned to male employees. The term “steering” refers to the practice of directing employees toward less desirable jobs based on their membership in a protected class. (When employers are accused of paying workers lower salaries based on factors such as race or gender, they may be found to have engaged in discriminatory practices even if the workers had substantially different job duties – if the employees with lower paying positions were steered toward them based on protected characteristics.)

According to an OFCCP press release, G&K’s hiring practices involved discrimination based on race as well as gender, with the result that 456 African-American job applicants and 111 Caucasian applicants were denied equal opportunity. The OFCCP also determined that G&K’s practice of steering male applicants toward certain positions resulted in a lower hiring rate for male applicants – with 2,327 male applicants affected.

The Steering Allegations Agreement

G&K denied any wrongdoing, but as part of a conciliation agreement will pay $1,813,555 to employees from the affected classes. G&K also agreed to allow 58 female employees the opportunity to assume positions with higher salaries, and to offer 78 positions to rejected applicants.

G&K also agreed to perform “a detailed assessment of its hiring, placement and compensation practices,” and to look into whether documents such as job postings are discriminatory. The settlement also requires G&K to conduct adverse impact and compensation analyses at the nine facilities in which the OFCCP determined that discriminatory practices were taking place – and to share the results of these analyses with the agency.

This is not the first time in recent years that G&K has been found by the OFCCP to have taken part in steering. In 2013, G&K reached a settlement after being accused of steering female employees into lower paying positions at a facility in Santa Fe Springs, California. In that case, the OFCCP determined that female employees were assigned to “light duty” jobs with lower salaries, while only considering male employees for heavy duty work. The OFCCP also determined that male employees were denied opportunities as a result of only being considered for heavy duty positions. [Read more…]

Does Former USC Coach Sarkisian Have A Discrimination Case

discrimination caseDoes former USC Football Coach Steve Sarkisian have a discrimination case? Steve Sarkisian was fired from his position as head coach of the University of Southern California (USC) football team in October, after incidents during which he allegedly appeared at events intoxicated. Sarkisian has now filed a wrongful termination suit against USC, alleging (among other claims) that the university discriminated against him on account of his alcoholism.

The circumstances of the firing are unclear. Sarkisian claims that he asked athletic director Pat Haden for time off to seek treatment for alcoholism, and in response Haden placed him on indefinite leave. According to Sarkisian’s complaint, he was then “kicked to the curb” less than a day later, when he was notified of his firing via email while he was traveling to a rehabilitation program.

However, USC issued a public statement in response to Sarkisian’s allegations that portrays the matter differently. According to USC, Sarkisian never acknowledged that he had a problem with alcohol and refused help when the university offered it. USC also claims that it provided Sarkisian with written notice that he would lose his job if there were further “incidents.”

Was Sarkisian’s Firing Justified or is a Discrimination Case a Possibility?

The discrimination case deals with some complex issues surrounding discrimination law. Under both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), alcoholism is a protected disability. It is illegal under both statutes to discriminate against an employee based on the stigma of alcoholism or based on past alcohol use. However, an employee is not protected when it comes to current alcohol abuse or misbehavior that arises from alcohol abuse.

Sarkisian’s complaint acknowledges that he “appeared” inebriated at a USC fundraising event called Salute to Troy and that he uttered an obscenity at the event. Sarkisian claims that he drank two beers and then took two prescription anxiety medications, and that his behavior stemmed from the mixture of the medication and the alcohol in his system. This event could prove to be crucial to the case. If the finder of fact determines that this constituted Sarkisian being intoxicated at work, then the incident could be seen as a justifiable reason for termination.

However, if the finder of fact determines that Sarkisian was fired for seeking treatment for alcoholism, then his termination could be seen as discriminatory. It is generally considered a violation of the ADA as well as FEHA to fire an employee under such circumstances. [Read more…]

Target Hiring Discrimination Complaint Resolved – $2.8M Settlement

hiring discrimination complaintTarget hiring discrimination complaint has been resolved by Target agreeing to a $2.8 million dollar settlement deal. The complaint involved several employment assessments used by Target in its hiring practices that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found to be discriminatory. One of these assessments, which was performed by psychologists, was determined by the EEOC to be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Neither EEOC nor Target has disclosed exactly what this psychological assessment consisted of. However, the EEOC stated that the test was a “pre-employment medical examination,” which violated a provision of the ADA that prevents employers from subjecting applicants to medical examinations before they have received job offers.

Medical Questions and Examinations – What is Allowed and What is Not

The ADA states that its prohibition against discrimination “shall include medical examinations and inquiries.” It also states that, prior to employment, “a covered entity shall not conduct a medical examination or make inquiries of a job applicant as to whether such applicant is an individual with a disability, or as to the nature or severity of such disability.”

It should be noted that the ADA also has a provision stating that a covered entity may make pre-employment inquiries into an applicant’s ability to perform job-related functions. The EEOC’s finding of discrimination in this case suggests that a psychologist’s assessment of a prospective employee’s response to questioning is not considered an acceptable inquiry into his or her ability to perform job-related functions.

An employer may require a medical examination after a job offer has been made, and it can even make the offer conditional on the results of the examination. However, this is only possible if:

  • All entering employees are subjected to such an examination, regardless of disability
  • The results of such examination are only used in accordance with the ADA
  • Information obtained regarding the medical condition or history of the applicant is collected and maintained on separate forms and in separate medical files, and is treated as a confidential medical record (There are several exceptions to this confidentiality, as there are some specific circumstances in which supervisors, managers, first aid and safety personnel, and government officials can be given access to information about employees’ health.)

Acceptable Questions

The EEOC has enforcement guidelines on pre-employment disability-related questions and medical examinations, and these guidelines specify certain types of questions than an employer is allowed to ask an applicant prior to a job offer. These include:

  • Questions about an applicant’s ability to perform specific job functions – such as stating the physical requirements of the job, and asking if the applicant can satisfy these requirements
  • Questions about an applicant’s non-medical qualifications
  • Questions asking an applicant to describe or demonstrate how he or she would perform job tasks

[Read more…]

How to File a California Fair Employment and Housing Act Discrimination Claim

 fair employment and housing act discriminationHow can I file a California Fair Employment and Housing Act Discrimination Claim? If you work in the state of California and you believe that you have been the victim of employment discrimination, you do not have the immediate option of filing a lawsuit against your employer. You must first pursue a claim on the state level by filing a claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, also known as the DFEH, or the federal level by filing a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, also known as the EEOC.

If you choose to file a complaint with the DFEH regarding a matter that falls under the jurisdiction of the EEOC, then your complaint will also be filed with the EEOC automatically.

Filing a Discrimination Claim with the DFEH

If you choose to pursue a claim on the state level, alleging a violation of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), you should be aware of the steps involved in the complaint process.

The Interview

When you contact the DFEH, they will schedule a time to interview you about your case. The DFEH provides a written questionnaire and they ask that complainants fill it out and send it in prior to their interviews.

Filing the Complaint

After the interview is complete the consultant who conducted the interview will draft a formal complaint that may or may not be accepted for investigation. The respondent (that is, the employer you have filed a complaint against) will be required to answer the complaint.

The respondent will be given the opportunity to resolve the complaint voluntarily, and the DFEH will attempt to facilitate a voluntary settlement. If a respondent makes an offer that the DFEH feels is reasonable and the complainant rejects it, the DFEH may choose to take no further action on their complaint.

The Investigation

If your complaint has been accepted for investigation, the DFEH is required to perform the investigation in a standard, timely manner. If the investigation does not show that the respondent violated the law, then the case will be closed. If the investigation shows that the respondent violated the law, then the DFEH may issue an accusation of discrimination.

Conciliation

If the investigation shows that there was a legal violation, there will be formal conciliation conferences. At a conciliation conference, the DFEH will present its conclusion that the respondent violated the law and there will be an attempt to reach a settlement between the parties. If there is no settlement, then the complaint may reach the litigation stage.

Litigation

The DFEH may choose to prosecute the respondent. If this occurs, the respondent may choose to either have the case publicly litigated before the Fair Employment and Housing Commission or moved to civil court.

Remedies

When a complainant is successful in litigation, there are a wide array of remedies available to him or her, including back pay, emotional distress damages, and reinstatement to his or her job. [Read more…]

Disclaimer

The information on this website should not be considered to be legal advice, nor construed to be the formation of any manner of attorney client relationship. Prior to taking any form of legal action, please consult with an attorney experienced in the appropriate area of law germane to your situation. Case results and testimonials presented on www.californialaborandemploymentlaw.net or any of its related websites are germane to the facts present for each individual case and is not a promise of similar outcomes for any other cases. This website is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the State of California.