Articles Posted in Employment Law

Four former and current black police officers in Annapolis have filed suit in federal court against the city. The officers claiming they were discriminated against because they are black and, as a result, were turned down for promotions and opportunities to advance.

These kinds of cases are so hard to prove even when they are true. Two of the officers argue disparate treatment which means while the City of Annapolis might be using facially neutral employment practices, they have had a unjustified adverse impact on these black officers. In other words, maybe it was not intentional discrimination but it is.

The Baltimore Sun reports that the city has 26 black officers on its 117-member force which sounds reasonable. But that does not mean there was not discrimination. You just can’t read a story like this and know what happened.

A federal judge in Baltimore ruled that a gender discrimination lawsuit against Ripken Professional Baseball will continue, rejecting Ripken’s argument that the case should be dismissed or that arbitration should be compelled.

Interesting facts. Woman takes a job with Ripken Baseball in 2006 as an Account Representative. She gets promoted to Assistant General Manager of Ticket Sales in 2010. In 2011, she started dating a subordinate employee which she claims happened all the time at Ripken (like it does in the rest of the world) in spite of the fact that the employee handbook says it is a no-no. Ripken – not Cal, I’m referring to the organization – fires her, citing the relationship and, perhaps more importantly, that they told others to lie about the affair. Woman alleges that she was treated differently from her male colleagues who engaged in similar behavior with subordinates.

If true, maybe she was discriminated against? But that does not answer the question. Maybe she was discriminated against because she was not as good an employee as the others. The question in this case is whether she would have been fired if she was a man. Boy, that is a tough question for a judge or jury to figure out.

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake shot down a hospital’s effort to dismiss a nurse’s class suit last week in a Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law case.

The nurse’s claim is that Maryland General Hospital automatically deducts a scheduled meal break from employees’ pay while also requiring employees to work during that unpaid break. So the hospital’s policy is, allegedly, an automatic 30-minute deduction in their daily time records for a scheduled meal break, whether or not they are able to receive the break. Oh, the inhumanity!

I’m not a huge fan of these types of cases. I think these laws are needed to manage some oppressive working conditions. Think West Virginia coal mine worker. But these are health care workers who are in great demand. Sure, the hospital was screwing over the employee on this lousy lunch break deal. But I bet they did a thousand other things for her that they were not required to do. Now she is cherry picking the one thing she didn’t like. Ultimately, it is the employer’s job to make the employee happy enough that they want to stay. If she does not like it there, she should leave – which is what she did.

The Maryland General Assembly has approved a bill that would prohibit employers from seeking Facebook and other social media passwords from either job applicants or existing employees. The bill was passed by a wide margin in the House of Delegates and unanimously by the state Senate, and now awaits Governor Martin O’Malley’s signature which it will most certainly get.

Here is what you need to know about the Maryland Chamber of Commerce: they opposed the bill. Why? The Maryland Chamber of Commerce is informed only by what it thinks will help Maryland businesses. If a bill was introduced in the Maryland General Assembly that all employees have to work a weekend shift of 8 hours for no compensation, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce would immediately jump behind the bill.

The Maryland Daily Record reports that a Baltimore jury awarded 555,000 to a former Merck & Co. saleswoman who had filed a lawsuit alleging she was fired in retaliation for reporting her supervisor’s violations of corporate policies. The jury awarded both past and future wages.

The Plaintiff had asked for five years of lost wages claiming she has not been able to find a job in the last two years and won’t be able to for the next three. Plaintiff was making $120,000 a year. I know it is a tough job market. But it seems a bit unlikely to me that someone who could command such a wage could not find any job over a five year period.

Fired but possibly rehired Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod says she will pursue a lawsuit against conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.

What happened was incredibly unfair to Sherrod and Breitbart should be publicly excoriated for what he did. But I don’t understand why a lawsuit should come from this. Her reputation is fully intact and then some. She was offered her job back. She is going to write a book and make a fortune (you know it is coming). Things are great. The only way to blow it is to come off looking petty by filing a lawsuit.

The CNN story is here.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals issued its opinion in Giant v. Taylor, a race and sex discrimination case about a female truck driver for Giant whose problems with her employer began because she was late to work due to gynecological problems. The jury bought her case, awarding her $644,750 after a trial that took over a week.

It is a case worth reading for Maryland employment lawyers but I did not see much of interest for personal injury lawyers.

The Supreme Court ruled in a 504 decision today that white firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut were unfairly denied promotions because of their race, reversing a lower court decision in which Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor endorsed as an appeals court judge.

New Haven should not have dropped promotion exam, according to the court, because black and only two Latinos were likely to be promoted, based on the results. New Haven went with the “blame it on the lawyers” defense, saying that it had acted to avoid a lawsuit from minorities.

My opinion? I really don’t have one. I have not spent the time to get up to speed employment law issues. At a glance, I can certainly see both arguments. My favorite Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, wrote the dissent. Gun to my head, I go with her. But I have an open mind.

Big Vanilla has agreed to pay $161,000 to settle a lawsuit the government filed against Big Vanilla for sexual harassment, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

According to EEOC’s suit, the Big Vanilla violated federal law by sexually harassing several female employees at Big Vanilla in Pasadena and Arnold, Maryland, the two locations the health club has in Anne Arundel County. The EEOC said four women were subjected to repeated and unwanted sexually offensive remarks and sexual advances and that three of the women were fired in retaliation for their complaints about the discrimination.

The EEOC also announced that in addition to the money Big Vanilla agreed to pay in the settlement, Big Vanilla Pasadena and Big Vanilla Athletic Club also agree to refrain from engaging in harassment on the basis of sex and from retaliating against employees who complain about it.