Healthcare Services Group settles English Only Rule Discrimination Lawsuit

Helping Employees Recover and Enforcing Employment Laws Helmer Friedman LLP.

Healthcare Services Group, Inc., a company that offers housekeeping and other services to healthcare facilities and has 35,000 employees across 48 states, has reached an agreement to provide compensation and corrective measures to an employee following an investigation.

The case involved a female employee working as a “light housekeeper” at a nursing home in Concord, California, who alleged that the company prohibited her from speaking Spanish while at work. The investigation confirmed the existence of an “English-only” rule, a policy that, if enforced without justification by business necessity, constitutes a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Restrictive language policies are only allowed if they are required to ensure safe or efficient business operation and is put in place for nondiscriminatory reasons. Client relations and customer preference do not justify discriminatory policies,” said Rosa Salazar, acting director of the EEOC’s Oakland Local Office.

Title VII prohibits national origin discrimination unless there is a business necessity, making “English Only” policies a violation of federal law. Furthermore, these policies are considered discriminatory because they negatively impact workers who speak English as a second language, treating them differently when they use their native language and subjecting them to reprimands or other consequences.

Following the investigation, a settlement was reached after the parties engaged in a pre-litigation conciliation process. As part of the settlement, Healthcare Services Group will provide monetary damages to the housekeeper and offer training for all California employees, as well as specific training for California managers and human resources personnel.

The company also agreed to revise its California policies to explicitly state that employees not involved in patient care are not restricted in the languages they speak at work and have the right to use their preferred language. These policies will be issued in English, Spanish, and other languages spoken by 5% or more of its California workforce. Additionally, the company will remove English fluency requirements from the light housekeeper job description and post a notice of the agreement for two years.

Iron Hill Brewery to Pay $115,000 in Race Discrimination and Retaliation Lawsuit

African American chef fired race discrimination, retaliation lawyers of Los Angeles Helmer Friedman LLP.

Federal Agency Charged Restaurant Discriminated and Retaliated Against Black Employee

In a recent settlement, the current federal administration reaffirmed its commitment to protecting employees from workplace discrimination and retaliation. This time, Iron Hill Brewery of Buckhead, LLC and Iron Hill Brewery, LLC, a chain of breweries and restaurants across several states, found themselves in the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) spotlight.

According to the settlement, Iron Hill Brewery agreed to pay $115,000 and furnish other relief to settle a race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The suit alleged Iron Hill Brewery discriminated against an African American employee at its Buckhead location.

The employee, a sous chef-in-training, was allegedly dismissed due to his race and for reporting discrimination against women and Hispanic colleagues. An unmerited disciplinary action was swiftly followed by termination.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, such alleged conduct is prohibited. This significant law prevents employers from carrying out retaliation for engaging in protected activity and discrimination based on race.

Protected activity, as outlined in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, encompasses various actions taken by employees to oppose discrimination or participate in proceedings related to discriminatory practices. In this particular case involving Iron Hill Brewery, the protected activity refers to the sous chef-in-training reporting instances of discrimination within the workplace. Specifically, the employee raised concerns about discriminatory behavior targeting women and Hispanic colleagues, which is considered a protected act under federal law. By voicing these grievances, the employee engaged in a legally protected activity aimed at confronting and challenging unfair treatment. Consequently, when the employee faced unwarranted disciplinary action and subsequent termination, it was alleged to be retaliatory—an illegal response to their protected activity of reporting discrimination.

In addition to the considerable financial settlement, the decree necessitates nationwide training for Iron Hill Brewery employees centered on Title VII’s prohibitions against race discrimination and retaliation. Iron Hill Brewery must also institute an anti-retaliation policy providing examples of unlawful retaliation in the workplace. These moves illustrate the seriousness of the situation and the serious implications of breaching Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The EEOC Atlanta District Office Regional Attorney, Marcus G. Keegan, opined, “This settlement sends a strong message that the EEOC will continue to vindicate the rights of individuals with the courage to come forward to report discrimination against themselves or others in the workplace.”

This case serves as a stark reminder of employees’ rights. If you believe that you or someone you know may be experiencing or witnessing race discrimination, harassment, or retaliation in the workplace, don’t hesitate to seek legal advice. Reach out to a lawyer in your area who specializes in employment law. Remember, everyone deserves a respectful and fair working environment.

Disability, Genetic Information Discrimination Suit Settled for $515,000

DNA genetic information discrimination lawyers in Los Angeles Helmer Friedman LLP.

Factor One Source Pharmacy Pressured Employees and Applicants to Fill Expensive Hemophilia Prescriptions with the Company

Factor One Source Pharmacy, LLC has agreed to pay $515,000 and provide other relief to resolve a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for disability and genetic information discrimination. The lawsuit alleged that the pharmacy violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) by pressuring employees and applicants to use its pharmacy services for expensive hemophilia prescriptions. The company unlawfully inquired about employee disabilities and genetic information and targeted individuals with hemophilia or family members with hemophilia for recruitment.

Employees who refused to use the company’s pharmacy services for hemophilia medications were reportedly fired or laid off, while those who complied retained their jobs, even if they had poorer performance reviews. This alleged conduct violated the ADA and GINA, which prohibit discrimination based on disability and genetic information.

The EEOC filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, and the settlement requires the new owners of Factor One to pay $515,000 in monetary relief, among other provisions. The company is also prohibited from employing or contracting with its prior CEO and owner, taking adverse employment actions against employees based on their non-use of the company’s pharmacy, and must provide ADA and GINA training to employees and conduct a survey on their treatment in the workplace.

EEOC officials emphasized the importance of preventing unlawful discrimination in the specialty pharmacy industry and highlighted that federal laws prohibit discrimination based on familial connections, such as family medical history under GINA and discrimination based on an employee’s relationship or association with an individual with a disability under the ADA.

Understanding Employee Rights: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

McDonald's franchise pays $1,997,500 in sexual harassment lawsuit.

The battle against sexual harassment in workplaces is one we should all be fighting. This provides a healthy work environment and supports the smooth operation of businesses. To illustrate this, I want to delve into the specifics of a recent case, EEOC v. AMTCR, Inc., AMTCR Nevada, Inc., and AMTCR California, LLC.

In this case, the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) accused these affiliated entities that own and operate 21 McDonald’s franchises of subjecting male and female employees to sexual harassment. The harassment resulted in the constructive discharge of some employees. The charging party was a teenager who was subjected to sexual comments and advances, along with unwanted touching. Despite the complaints the charging party and his mother lodged, management took no corrective action. Instead, a manager suggested that the charging party should take the conduct as a compliment.

“Young workers are particularly vulnerable to harassment in the workplace as they are more likely to be unaware of their rights and can be taken advantage by their employer,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office

Regrettably, this was not an isolated incident. Other male and female employees, some of them teenagers as well, were subjected to groping, sexually explicit comments, and sexual requests from coworkers and managers. A particularly disturbing event revealed that one male general manager conditioned hire on the acquiescence of male applicants to dates and sexual activity.

This case was resolved with a 3-year consent decree, providing $1,997,500 to 41 individuals and equitable relief. Nonetheless, it brings to light the drastic consequences of workplace sexual harassment and the subsequent legal actions that can ensue.

The law protects employees from sexual harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the law, “It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer… to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin…”

The EEOC v. AMTCR case demonstrates how crucial it is for employers to foster a safe and respectful work environment. This includes having strict measures in place to prevent, address, and punish any form of sexual harassment. After all, every employee has a right to a workplace free of harassment and discrimination.

Celebrating Our LGBTQIA+ Community!

Helmer Friedman LLP celebrates Pride Month with our LGBTQIA+ community.


The Power of Class Action Lawsuits: Merrill Lynch’s $20 Million Settlement on Racial Discrimination

Class action lawsuits allow the average employee to band together and get justice from large powerful corporations.

Class action lawsuits are often seen as the vehicle of justice for the average person, allowing individuals to band together to hold even the most formidable, seemingly untouchable companies to account for their actions. A recent case involving Merrill Lynch, a Wall Street brokerage titan, has brought this to light, with the company agreeing to pay nearly $20 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging racial discrimination against its Black financial advisers.

This lawsuit claims that African American advisers employed by Bank of America-owned Merrill received less compensation and fewer promotions than their white counterparts. Furthermore, these employees were terminated at higher rates with fewer opportunities for advancement due to discriminatory practices entrenched in the company’s culture.

The repercussions of such systemic violations of African-American employees’ rights had to be addressed. The suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida by four former Merrill advisers has set a precedent that even the biggest corporations can be held accountable for racial discrimination in the workplace.

Merrill has agreed to pay $19.95 million — beyond attorney fees and administration costs—to compensate those affected. The settlement is set to benefit approximately 1,375 eligible class members. A judge is yet to approve this settlement, but Merrill has also agreed to “programmatic relief” that includes reviews of diversity practices and pay equity analyses.

Bank of America has stated that the settlement allows them to focus on supporting Black financial advisers and their clients. Over the past decade, they have implemented policies and programs to improve diversity and inclusion. This initiative has resulted in an over 40% increase in the number of Black financial advisers at Merrill and a significant upturn in team representation.

The case against Merrill Lynch is not an isolated incident. They have faced similar allegations in the past, resulting in a $160 million settlement in August 2013. These cases underscore the power of class action lawsuits in ensuring even the most powerful entities are held accountable for their actions.

In the fight against race discrimination, class action lawsuits prove time and again that no company is too large or too powerful to be immune from legal recourse. This not only brings justice for those wronged but also forces companies to examine and modify their practices to ensure a more inclusive and equitable workplace.

Lawsuit Shines a Light on Alleged Racial Harassment at Tesla

Tesla must pay $137 million to a Black employee who sued for racial discrimination.

A California Superior Court recently ruled to validate a class-action lawsuit alleging “severe and pervasive race harassment” against Black employees at a Tesla factory in Fremont. This lawsuit not only affects the alleged victims but also sheds light on the controversial work environment within Tesla.

The claims stem from around 500 declarations, indicating that incidents of racial harassment have been frequent in Tesla’s Fremont factory for nearly eight years. These incidents include the use of racial slurs and derogatory language towards Black employees, as well as a lack of diversity within management positions at the factory. The plaintiffs argue that Tesla has created a hostile work environment for its Black employees, which violates California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.

“There is much work to do, but we believe we will succeed in showing at trial that there has been a pattern and practice of pervasive race harassment at Tesla’s Fremont factory.” Matthew Helland from Nichols Kaster LLP

Despite having a complaint system since 2017, the lawsuit alleges that Tesla failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action in response to these accusations. Over 200 plaintiffs working at the Fremont facility reported hearing racial slurs, and about two-thirds of those who provided sworn statements claimed they witnessed anti-Black graffiti and racial slurs.

Further allegations from individual plaintiffs suggest a deeply rooted issue within the factory’s management and work culture, as they reported unchanged racist behaviors despite complaints to supervisors and human resources.

This is not the first time Tesla has faced allegations of unchecked racial harassment and discrimination. In 2021, a former elevator operator at the Fremont factory was awarded $137 million by a federal jury in San Francisco in a racial harassment lawsuit. The significant award underscores the severity of the emotional distress and hostile work environment endured by the plaintiff during his time at the factory.

The lawsuit criticizes the alleged “pre-Civil Rights Era race discrimination” as a standard procedure at the Tesla plant. It asserts that despite awareness of the issue, Tesla took no action to stop it. This accusation contradicts Tesla’s stance in a 2022 blog post, where the company strongly opposed discrimination and harassment and stated that it terminated employees engaged in misconduct.

The case will now focus on determining if there was a pattern of widespread racial harassment at the Fremont factory, whether Tesla was aware of it, and if Tesla took adequate steps to address it. According to Alameda County Superior Court Judge Noel Wise, this lawsuit will provide common facts that can simplify individual cases, as hundreds or thousands of workers may wish to seek damages from Tesla over their treatment.

This case further highlights the ongoing struggle for equality and respect in the workplace, emphasizing the importance of ensuring a safe and comfortable working environment for all, regardless of the company’s size or caliber.