Employment Round Table

Andrew H. Friedman to Speak at Employment Round Table of Southern California’s Annual Fall Conference and Awards Luncheon

November 4, 2010 – On Thursday, November 4, 2010, Andrew H. Friedman will speak at the Employment Round Table of Southern California’s Annual Fall Conference and Awards Luncheon. The Conference will take place at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel,

404 South Figueroa, Los Angeles California beginning at 7:30 a.m. You can register to attend by visiting http://ertsc.org  Mr. Friedman’s presentation will take place immediately prior to a Special Award Presentation to The Honorable Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California – Invited Recipient – of the Round Table’s Leadership Award in Disability Rights.

Denied Managerial Position with Home Depot?

Work for Home Depot? Are you a female employee of Home Depot who was denied a promotion to a managerial position? Are you a female job applicant who was denied a managerial position? If so, your rights to a workplace free of discrimination based on sex or gender may have been violated. For a consultation, please call Helmer Friedman LLP at (310) 396-7714 or email us at info@helmerfriedman.com.

Employee Fired After Being Choked By Coworker

Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Filed Against Major Manufacturer of Cosmetics and Toiletries

Former Employee Alleges That Gar Laboratories, Inc. Fired Her After She Was Assaulted and Battered By A Male Co-Worker that’s how I killed people in Iraq. California law clearly prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who make complaints about workplace safety issues. Indeed, California law actually mandates that all California employers provide a safe and healthful workplace.

Cherie Stewart, a former employee of Gar Laboratories, Inc. (www.garlabs.com), an FDA registered contract manufacturer and filler that produces cosmetics, toiletries, Over-The-Counter drug items, as well as health and beauty aids, filed a lawsuit alleging that the Company violated multiple California laws by firing her after she complained that a male co-worker assaulted and battered her by choking her and then bragging “that’s how I killed people in Iraq.” The lawsuit was filed in Riverside, California Superior Court and assigned case number RIC508200.

Commenting about these allegations, Ms. Stewart’s attorney, Andrew H. Friedman of the Venice, California based Helmer • Friedman, LLP law firm said “California law clearly prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who make complaints about workplace safety issues. Indeed, California law actually mandates that all California employers provide a safe and healthful workplace.”

Ms. Stewart’s other attorney, Melanie Partow, expressed the hope that Ms. Stewart’s lawsuit would serve as a wake up call to those employers ignorant about California’s anti-retaliation laws, “It is a shame that many employers in California are still apparently unaware of the fact that it is unlawful to retaliate against an employee who complains about things like discrimination, harassment and work place safety issues. We hope that any press coverage that this case receives will serve to remind employers of their obligations under California law.”

For additional information or a PDF copy of Ms. Stewart’s Complaint, contact:
Andrew H. Friedman (afriedman@helmerfriedman.com)
Melanie Partow (mpartow@helmerfriedman.com)
Helmer • Friedman, LLP — 310-396-7714
www.HelmerFriedman.com

Sexual Harassment Investigations

The most important anti-harassment policy is always prevention.  One of the best ways of handling sexual harassment is having a clearly written policy stating that sexual harassment is not tolerated.  This policy should clearly assure complainants would not be treated negatively for making a claim of harassment. An anti-harassment policy is not effective without such assurance.  A good practice is to have a telephone number that employees can call anonymously with questions and concerns about sexual harassment. Once an allegation is made and it is evident that an investigation is necessary the fact-finding investigation should be launched immediately.  

According to The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and as the Supreme Court stated, “Title VII is designed to encourage the creation of anti-harassment policies and effective grievance mechanisms.”  While the Court noted that this “is not necessary in every instance as a matter of law,” failure to do so will make it difficult for an employer to prove that it exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct harassment.  Anti-harassment policies and procedures should be provided to each employee, preferably during the initial training and post the written anti-harassment policy in central locations such as break rooms and locker rooms and redistribute it regularly.  The policy should contain a clear explanation of unacceptable conduct, assurance that complaints will not be followed by retaliation and a suggested means of filing a complaint.  It should include a statement of confidentiality and assurance of an impartial investigation and immediate corrective action along with time frames for filing charges of unlawful harassment with the EEOC or state fair employment agency.  Anti-harassment policies should include all forms of harassment: whether based on age, sex, race, religion, national origin, disability and include harassment by anyone including supervisors, co-workers and non-employees. 

Harassment complaint procedures should be designed to encourage victims opposed to discouraging victims of harassment with invasive reporting procedures.  A procedure that appears too complicated and full of obstacles can discourage reports. Employees should be encouraged to report harassment early, before it becomes severe and disruptive to their work environment.  Effective complaint processes establish accessible contacts outside the chain of command for the initial complaint. Employees should understand that while the employer will make every attempt to protect confidentiality, certain information must be shared to conduct a proper investigation.  Even if the employee requests no action, an employer has a responsibility to investigate allegations or be held liable. 

While each case will vary tailor complainant interview questions accordingly, very basics questions should include: who, what, where, when and how:

  • Who committed the alleged harassment?  What happened exactly?  When and how often did it occur?  Where did the harassment take place?  How did it affect the complainant?
  • Did the alleged harassment affect your job in anyway?
  • Are there witnesses?  Is there anyone with relevant information?  Did you tell anyone that you were harassed?  Did anyone see you immediately following the alleged harassment?
  • Do you know of anyone else harassed by the same person?  If so, did they report the incident?
  • Is there any physical evidence, notes, or documentation regarding the incident or incidents?
  • How would you like the situation resolved?

     
Once the complainant is interviewed, the EEOC offers a guideline of questions to ask the alleged harasser:

  • What is your response to the allegations?
  • If the harasser denies the allegations, ask why the complainant might lie and if there is anyone that may have relevant information?
  • Is there any physical evidence, notes, or documentation regarding the incident or incidents?

You should also interview any third parties that may have relevant information.  The following questions are useful as a guideline for interviewing witnesses or third parties:

  • What did you see or hear?  When did this occur?  Describe the alleged harasser?s behavior toward the complainant and toward others in the workplace.
  • What did the complainant tell you and when did he/she tell you?
  • Do you have other relevant information or do you know of anyone else that would have relevant information.

 Once an allegation is made, and all parties have been interviewed the interviewer will need to weigh each parties credibility to reach a determination.  During this process measures should be taken to prevent all contact between the harasser and complainant.  The complainant however should not be transferred involuntarily.  Upon reaching a decision the parties should be informed of the determination.  For more information visit the Helmer Friedman LLP sexual harassment, employment violation leaders at http://www.helmerfriedman.com.

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Super Lawyers 4th Year

Andrew H. Friedman and Gregory D. Helmer are named 2010 “Super Lawyers”

February 1, 2010 – Law & Politics Magazine and the publishers of Los Angeles Magazine select Andrew H. Friedman and Gregory D. Helmer as a 2010 Southern California “Super Lawyers” in the category of Labor and Employment Law. This is the fourth year that both Mr. Friedman and Mr. Helmer have been selected as “Super Lawyers.”

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Labor and Employment Law

2009 Labor and Employment Law Section’s Annual Meeting

October 23 & 24, 2009 – Andrew H. Friedman to speak on “Annual Update” at the 27th Annual Meeting of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of California which will be held at the Claremont Resort and Spa, Berkeley, CA. Mr. Friedman will be co-presenting this topic with prominent defense counsel Anthony J. Oncidi of Proskauer Rose LLP. Mr. Friedman will also moderate a panel on “Religion, God in the Workplace” with speakers: Jeffrey A. Berman of Sidley Austin LLP,

Carol L. Gillam of The Gillam Law Firm, and Anna Y. Park, Regional Attorney for the Los Angeles District Office Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Los Angeles.

Employment Round Table

Employment Roundtable of Southern California’s 2009 Annual Conference

November 5, 2009 – The Employment Roundtable of Southern California (“ERTSC”) will hold its 2009 Annual Conference on November 5, 2009, at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The address is: 404 S. Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90071. Mr. Friedman will appear on a panel discussing disability discrimination with Erica Jones, Director, Pacific Disability & Business Technical Assistance Center and prominent defense counsel Anthony J. Oncidi of Proskauer Rose LLP.

$1.5 Million Settlement

Court Preliminarily Approves $1.5 Million Settlement In Class Action Lawsuit Against U.S. Remodelers

September 25, 2009- U.S. District Court preliminarily approves $1.5 million class action settlement. To see a copy of the Court’s Notice of Class Action Settlement, Claim Form and Procedures, Exclusion Procedures, and Final Approval of Settlement Hearing, click here. If you are a current or former Sales Associate or Manager of U.S. Remodelers, Inc. (U.S. Home Services) and/or U.S. Home Systems, Inc. who was employed in California at any time between the dates of July 3, 2003 and August 24, 2009, you are a member of the class and should have received a copy of the Court’s Notice. If you have not received this document, please contact the Claims Administrator as soon as possible to request copy of this document and the Claim Form:

 U.S. Remodelers Litigation

c/o CPT Group, Inc.

16630 Aston Street

Irvine, California 92606

Toll free number: (888) 844-3063

 In order to make a claim and potentially receive a settlement award, you must complete and return the Claim Form you should have received, which must be post-marked no later than November 7, 2009. If you fail to complete and return the Claim Form within the foregoing time, you will be barred from participating in the settlement.

Sexual Harassment, Retaliation Lawsuit Filed Against PureBeauty

A former employee of PureBeauty, Inc. filed a retaliation and sexual harassment lawsuit against the beauty supply retail and salon services chain with locations throughout the U.S. The suit also names the company’s former Vice President of Sales, Brian Pearce, and celebrity hair stylist, Adam Shuman. The Los Angeles Superior Court assigned the lawsuit case number BC343315.

Stacey Stout – PureBeauty’s former manager of the company’s Southern California region – alleges that she and another female employee were sexually harassed by Mr. Shuman. PureBeauty markets and sells a product designed and manufactured by Mr. Shuman – the “Superstar” flatiron – used for straightening hair. In order to promote the product, PureBeauty arranged for Mr. Shuman to conduct product demonstrations at several of the stores in the region managed by Ms. Stout.

The complaint alleges that Shuman, during the promotional events, sexually harassed Ms. Stout and another female employee. Among other things, Ms. Stout alleges that Shuman made incessant sexual comments about sado-masochism, oral sex, and his sexual escapades at the Playboy Mansion. She also alleges that Shuman grabbed her and forcibly kissed her. The complaint also alleges that Shuman pressured one of Ms. Stout’s female subordinates to have sex with him.

Ms. Stout alleges that she complained to several high-level executives, but that no action was taken against Shuman. Instead, she alleges that the company retaliated against her and terminated her employment because she had complained. Prior to the complaints, Ms. Stout was the top performing district manager at the company. Immediately after the complaints, however, Ms. Stout alleges that the company began secretly attempting to solicit negative information about her from her subordinates. She was terminated a few months later.

Commenting about these allegations, Ms. Stout’s attorney, Gregory D. Helmer of Helmer • Friedman, LLP, said, “When an employee encounters unlawful activity at work, she must be allowed to bring those matters to the attention of her employer without fearing retaliation. We should be encouraging, not dissuading, the reporting of unlawful conduct.”

Based in Encino, PureBeauty has stores throughout California, Arizona, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Nevada, Texas, Virginia, New York and other locations.

For additional information or a PDF copy of Ms. Stout’s Complaint, contact:

Gregory D. Helmer
Helmer • Friedman, LLP
(310) 396-7714
www.helmerfriedman.com