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November 2018 Verdicts and Settlements

Published by on December 11, 2018

Our summary of recent verdicts and settlements for November 2018.

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania federal jury awarded $6.3 million to former Teva employee in age discrimination, anti-American bias, and retaliation suit. The former employee claimed that he was subjected to discriminatory conduct and received negative performance reviews when he was assigned to work under an Israeli-based manager who was 14 years his junior. Following age discrimination and hostile working environment complaints by other employees and an internal review, the former employee received yet another negative review and was subsequently terminated at age 58, and replaced by a 38 year old manager.

After a one-week trial, the jury rejected the former employee’s discrimination claims, however, the jury found that the former employee had been retaliated against and subjected to a hostile work environment. Teva said that it plans to appeal the jury’s verdict on the remaining claim of retaliation.

North Carolina: Whole Foods Market Group, Inc. to pay $65,000 to settle disability discrimination lawsuit. A former employee was hired by Whole Foods Market as a cashier in a Raleigh, North Carolina location. During her employment, the former employee had a kidney transplant due to kidney failure and was absent from work on two occasions due to hospitalization and doctors’ visits. Although the employee alleged that she informed Whole Foods Market of her need for time off related to her kidney health and surgery, the company terminated her for her absences. The former employee alleged disability discrimination for Whole Foods Market’s failure to reasonably accommodate her after she provided notice of her need for accommodation. In addition to monetary damages, Whole Foods Market agreed to develop a disability accommodation policy and to provide annual training to its Southern Region human resources employees, managers, and supervisors. Additionally, Whole Foods Market must post an employee notice concerning the lawsuit and employee rights under federal anti-discrimination laws.

Alabama: GB Flowood Operations, LLC to pay $25,000 to settle religious discrimination suit. GB Flowood, operating a restaurant under the name Georgia Blue, allegedly denied an employee a religious accommodation regarding its dress code policy. Under the dress code policy, employees were required to wear blue jean pants. The employee requested that the restaurant allow her to wear blue jean skirts in accordance with her religious beliefs that women should only wear skirts or dresses. Following the request, the manager informed the employee that the owner would not stray away from the company dress code requiring pants. Failure to provide such an accommodation (unless an undue hardship) is a violation of Title VII. In addition to monetary payment to the employee, GB Flowood must revise its written policies and procedures prohibiting employment discrimination and must include procedures for reasonable accommodations based on religion. The company must also provide training to its managers and post of non-discrimination on employee bulletin boards.

Minnesota: Murex Petroleum Corporation to pay $50,000 to settle racial harassment lawsuit. A Texas-based oil and gas company subjected an African-American employee to a hostile work environment based on his race. The former employee, who worked for the Murex Petroleum Corporation at its Tioga, Minnesota facility, was allegedly subjected to racial harassment by his white coworkers. Coworkers called the former employee racial slurs and made racially derogatory comments. The harassment was witnessed by the former employee’s supervisor, but no action was taken to stop or prevent the harassing behavior. In addition to monetary relief, Murex must revise its harassment policy and train employees regarding Title VII provisions prohibiting race discrimination. Murex must also report all complaints of racial harassment to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) for a three-year period following settlement.

California: Merritt Hospitality, LLC and HEI Hotels and Reports, LLC to pay $125,000 to settle disability discrimination lawsuit. The companies, who operate an Embassy Suites hotel in San Diego, California, allegedly terminated an employee following an overnight trip to an emergency room. Prior to termination, the employee had informed her employer she was unable to work in conditions with no ventilation or windows due to the employee’s disability. Following the employee’s request for an accommodation, the hotel failed to provide an effective accommodation. Rather than engaging in the interactive process required by the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the hotel ignored the employee’s condition. In addition to monetary relief, Merritt Hospitality must retain an EEO monitor; appoint an internal ADA coordinator; revise its written policies and procedures regarding compliance with the ADA; create and maintain an accommodation log; implement training to all employees on the ADA; develop a centralized tracking system for accommodation requests and discrimination complaints; and submit annual reports to the EEOC verifying compliance during the five-year consent decree.

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