Richmond VA June 18 2013 Nine owners and managers of 7-Eleven stores in Virginia and across Long Island were charged on Monday in a scheme to exploit immigrants from Pakistan and the Philippines.
Some business owners used Social Security numbers of a child and three deceased people on the workers’ pay stubs, authorities said.
Most of the defendants were arrested early Monday as federal authorities raided 14 franchise stores, including locations in Norfolk, Portsmouth and Chesapeake, Va.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were executing search warrants at about 30 other stores across the country suspected of similar infractions, authorities said at a news conference in Brooklyn.
Federal indictments, which named eight men and one woman, allege that since 2000 they employed more than 50 immigrants who didn’t have permission to be in the United States.
They tried to conceal the immigrants’ employment by stealing the identities of about two dozen people — including those of the child, the dead and a Coast Guard cadet — and submitting the information to the 7-Eleven payroll department.
When 7-Eleven’s headquarters sent the wages for distribution, the employers stole “significant portions” of the workers’ pay, authorities said. The defendants also forced the workers to live in houses they owned and pay them rent in cash, they added.
“The defendants not only systematically employed illegal immigrants, but concealed their crimes by raiding the cradle and the grave to steal the identities of children and even the dead,”‘ U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement. “Finally, these defendants ruthlessly exploited their immigrant employees, stealing their wages and requiring them to live in unregulated boarding houses, in effect creating a modern day plantation system.”
The government seized the franchise rights of 10 stores in New York and four stores in Virginia. The stores will remain open under the parent company’s operation.
Immigration officials detained 18 workers, including some who first notified authorities about the alleged fraud.
The defendants were to appear in court on Long Island and Norfolk, Va., later in the day to face wire fraud conspiracy, identity theft and alien harboring charges. They face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy.
A 7-Eleven spokesman said the company was cooperating with the investigation, but declined further comment.
The case reflects stepped up enforcement against employers using bogus documentation for immigrant workers. In the past two years, federal authorities have brought similar charges against more than 500 business-owners and managers, said James Hayes, head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s New York office.
“There’s real teeth to these laws, and we’re using them now more than ever before,” Hayes said.
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. also came under investigation in recent years by for hiring workers who were in the country illegally. Last year, federal prosecutors charged a Minneapolis man who ran a company that provides labor to large poultry farms with transporting and harboring illegal immigrants.
Haeyoung Yoon, senior staff attorney for the National Employment Law Project, said that low-wage employers are more prone to not having the proper documentation for their workers. Once the fraud is exposed, the workers typically end up getting fired on the spot and sometimes deported, Yoon said.
Source- NBC Washington
Trinity Protection Services and CSI Corp. Resolve EEOC Discrimination Lawsuit www.privateofficer.com
BALTIMORE MD June 16 2013 – CSI Corporation of DC will pay $12,000 to resolve an EEOC lawsuit alleging pregnancy discrimination, unlawful medical inquiries and retaliation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced today. This is in addition to the $30,000 already paid by Trinity Protection Services, Inc. to resolve its part of the lawsuit. Trinity and CSI will also provide equitable relief as part of the settlements.
The EEOC initially brought suit against DTM Corporation, a Maryland-based security services provider. After DTM filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy dissolution, the EEOC added Trinity and CSI as defendants, alleging that they were liable for the discrimination and retaliation as legal successor companies. Although Trinity and CSI never employed the victim in this case, the EEOC argued they were liable as successor companies because they had purchased DTM’s assets, had common officers and employees with DTM (including the supervisor who had engaged in the alleged discrimination), had notice of the allegations against DTM before they purchased DTM’s assets and had substantial continuity of DTM’s business operations.
DTM’s “Corporation Maternity Policy” required the suspension of pregnant employees without pay pending the receipt of a medical release. The EEOC alleged that DTM discriminated against Naima Ashigur, a contract security officer, by repeatedly suspending her and forcing her to obtain fitness for duty medical releases pursuant to its policy, even though she had provided medical clearances from her doctor. DTM also forced her to undergo medical examinations that were not job related and consistent with business necessity, violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) the EEOC alleged.
According to the lawsuit, Ashigur’s supervisor made several comments showing a bias against pregnant workers, including speculating with coworkers whether Ashigur was pregnant, threatening that he wanted her off the contract because of her child bearing status and threatening that she “better not get pregnant again.” The EEOC also alleged that a supervisor required Ashigur to hide in a restroom so that contracting officials would not see that she was pregnant.
The EEOC claimed that DTM retaliated against Ashigur because she had complained about her unlawful treatment during her pregnancy–first by denying her maternity leave and then refusing to allow her to return to work for several months, even though she was medically released to do so. The EEOC further alleged that when it eventually allowed her to return, DTM subjected her to heightened scrutiny, unwarranted discipline, and other harassment in continuing retaliation for her protected activity.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Title VII, as amended by the PDA, requires that employers treat pregnant employees the same as other employees similar in their ability or inability to work, and prohibits employers from singling out pregnant employees for special procedures to determine their fitness for work. The ADA prohibits employers from requiring employees, even employees who do not have a disability, to undergo medical inquiries or examinations, unless the company can prove the medical inquiry or examination is job related and consistent with business necessity. Both laws prohibit employers from retaliating against an individual for filing a charge or opposing employment discrimination.
The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, (EEOC v. DTM Corporation, Trinity Protection Services, Inc., and CSI Corporation of DC, Civil Action No. 1:11-cv-02433) after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement with DTM through its conciliation process.
The Consent Decree entered by the District Court on June 6, 2013, provides that CSI will pay $12,000 in monetary relief to Ashigur. Trinity already paid Ashigur $30,000 to resolve the EEOC’s claims against it in a separate consent decree entered last year. Both decrees enjoin the companies from engaging in pregnancy discrimination, from subjecting pregnant employees to medical examinations and inquiries that are not job related and consistent with business necessity, and from engaging in unlawful retaliation. CSI will disseminate a memorandum to all employees that it will comply with Title VII and that DTM’s prior maternity and pregnancy policies do not apply to CSI employees. CSI will provide four hours of training on Title VII and the ADA to all managerial and supervisory employees. Both companies will post a notice about the settlement.
“Pregnant employees who are able to do the job must be permitted to continue working and cannot be treated less favorably than non-pregnant employees,” said Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.
Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, “The law under the ADA is clear – absent an ability to prove job-relatedness and business necessity, companies cannot force pregnant workers to undergo increased scrutiny or onerous medical inquiries and examinations in order to keep working while pregnant. Moreover, under the PDA, employers must treat pregnant women the same as other employees ‘similar in their ability or inability to work.’”
The Philadelphia District Office of the EEOC oversees Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.
One of the six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) is for the Commission to address emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including issues involving the ADA and pregnancy-related limitations, among other possible issues.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available at its website, http://www.eeoc.gov.
Fredericksburg VA June 11 2013 About 150 former and current Spotsylvania County law enforcement officers have filed a lawsuit claiming they are owed $500,000 in unpaid overtime.The plaintiffs allege that Spotsylvania didn’t follow a 2005 state law requiring it to pay sheriff’s deputies time-and-a-half for working beyond their regular schedules of 160 hours in a 28-day pay period.Spotsylvania Sheriff Roger Harris, who is named as a defendant, said county officials corrected the overtime issue shortly after the suit was filed in January.“Their main intention was to rectify it and not go back and try to punish the county,” Harris said of the plaintiffs. “I think they just want to get paid for what they’re doing.”The suit mirrors others filed by law enforcement officers in Richmond, Winchester, Chesterfield County and other localities. Last July, about 600 retired and active Richmond police officers collected $7 million in unpaid overtime.The Spotsylvania suit claims that deputies received time-and-a-half only for working more than 171 hours in 28 days, which is the federal standard for overtime.But a 2005 state law requires overtime payments for all hours worked between the federal threshold and a police officer’s normal schedule, according to the suit. It’s called “gap pay.”Attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli championed that law when he was a state senator. In addition, the Spotsylvania suit alleges that the county often required deputies to work “off the clock” if their schedules exceeded the federal threshold for overtime. The county, it says, has shown a “reckless disregard” for federal overtime requirements.First Sgt. Tim Bryner of the Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office, the lead plaintiff in the case, said he hopes the suit can be resolved “amicably.”He said Spotsylvania has treated its deputies well and that he “thinks the world of” County Administrator Doug Barnes. The deputies, Bryner said, “would like to be offered the opportunity to amicably be compensated the way they should have been” since the 2005 law took effect. Spotsylvania’s Interim County Attorney James Benkahla declined to comment.
SOUTH BEND IN May 25 2013 — A former security guard for the St. Joseph County Public Library has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the library that alleges he was unfairly fired after he came forward with knowledge regarding a workplace sexual harassment complaint against his supervisor.
The suit, filed Wednesday in federal court in South Bend, claims that the supervisor of plaintiff Joseph Kiama repeatedly threatened him after he came forward as a witness and then terminated him while upper-level staff looked the other way.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Kiama by attorney Thomas Dixon, also claims the library staff discriminated against him because he is from Kenya.
The suit names as defendants the St. Joseph County Public Library, library director Donald Napoli
and Robert Sanders, former security supervisor at the library.
Both Dixon and Napoli declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Kiama was hired as a part-time security officer at the library in 2003 and then as a full-time officer in 2005, the lawsuit says.
Sanders was hired as Kiama’s security supervisor in 2008, according to the suit.
The lawsuit claims that Kiama witnessed Sanders sexually harass a female employee, which was the subject of a formal complaint.
In January 2012, Kiama took security camera footage to the library’s assistant director that the lawsuit says captured Sanders intentionally grabbing a female employee in an inappropriate way.
The lawsuit alleges that Sanders then threatened and harassed Kiama for cooperating with the investigation.
Sanders also made it known that he does not like Kenyans, the lawsuit alleges.
Kiama told Napoli and other library staff about the threats, but the suit says they never took care of the problem.
In August 2012, the library fired Kiama without warning, acting on a recommendation from Sanders, the suit says.
The lawsuit claims Sanders was let go from his position as security supervisor earlier this year in connection with the sexual harassment investigation.
The suit argues that the actions of the library staff were discriminatory and violated the state’s whistleblower laws.
It asks the court to award monetary damages and bar the defendants from acting in such a way in the future.
Source- south bend tribune
Charlotte NC May 18 2013 Charlotte-based Metro Special Police & Security Services faces EEOC charges that a captain and lieutenant, both men, solicited male security officers for sex, forced them to go to gay bars while on duty and touched the men’s chests and genitals against their will.
In its complaint, the EEOC claims that at least three male officers faced constant sexual harassment, including requests for nude photographs, questions about their sexual preferences and offers of promotions in exchange for sex with their male superiors.
The officers complained to Metro’s CEO, but the company never investigated the harassment allegations. The EEOC claims that several of the men were suspended, demoted or discharged after they filed their internal complaints.
The EEOC sued after mediation efforts failed, seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief.
Note: Under the Civil Rights Act, male-on-male sexual harassment is just as illegal as any other kind of harassment.
Private Officer International
Two former contract workers employed at an Amazon.com warehouse sued the company in 2011 because of the often long wait in the security line to have their belongings checked before leaving company property after their shift.
Employees must first clock out before entering the security line that often has hundreds of people waiting to go through the security checkpoint which can take as long as thirty minutes and the employees asserted that they should be paid for their time since they are required to go through this process.
The lower court dismissed the case saying that the workers were not owed back wages and that Amazon because of the nature of the business and the need to prevent workers from pilfering electronics had a right to maintain security without paying employees for time spent going through the checkpoint.
Jesse Busk, 36, a temporary staffing employee assigned to an Amazon Warehouse and Laurie Castro the lead plaintiff’s in this action continued to argue that employers are required under federal law to pay employees for any mandatory time that an employee must spend at work and now a higher court has overturned the original judge’s decision and ruled in favor of the two plaintiffs.
This recent appeals court ruling in the case could have broad implications for workers at Amazon Warehouses and beyond. The federal appeals court ruling opens the door for all Amazon Warehouse employees and those of other companies who are required to go through security checkpoints off the clock, to file their own litigation for back wages.
Mark Thierman, one of the Nevada lawyers representing Busk and Castro, told HuffPost that his clients’ claims represent “an utter lack of respect for workers’ time” by Integrity and ultimately Amazon.
“From what we’ve been able to find, this is across the country,” Thierman said. “It’s not just Nevada. It’s Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Delaware. All of Amazon Warehouses’s have the same setup.”
Thierman said that this ruling could be “precedent-setting” for the industry. The argument Thierman has made is that passing through security is a vital part of the job for the benefit of the employer and not the employee.
There have been similar worker lawsuits in other low-wage industries. For years, major meat and poultry processors like Tyson Foods have been fighting lawsuits over the time workers spend putting on and removing elaborate uniforms and equipment, like protective gear and chain mail, which can add a half hour to a worker’s day. Known as “donning and doffing” cases, such lawsuits have led to multi-million-dollar payouts in the past.
Wal-Mart and other retailers have been taken to task on this very subject and in two separate court rulings workers have won and been awarded millions of dollars in back wages.
Employees deserve to be paid for the time they spend waiting on the security line, Busk argued, because it’s not by choice — and because “you drove God knows how far to this place, and you just worked 12 hours.”
ST. LOUIS MO May 10 2013 - More than 100 workers are walking off the job at fast food restaurants Thursday to say they cannot survive on minimum wage.
WASHINGTON DC May 10 2013 — A school security officer who’s worked for nearly a decade in DC Public Schools alleges she was groped by a male student and then fired after reporting it.
Roxanna Peterson says some local schools have become unsafe– even for those whose jobs are to keep them secure. She says her short time at Ballou High School was tainted by violence.
“I was grabbed in my throat by a male student and punched in my chest,” said school security officer Peterson. She says she endured physical and verbal attacks by some Ballou High School students, but one teenager’s alleged actions crossed the line.
“I had him following me around for, I would say, almost two weeks, telling me how big my behind was. He wanted to screw me in my behind. I didn’t think that was appropriate,” she said.
According to Roxanna, she reported the student to her superiors at Allied Barton, the security company contracted to DC Public Schools, and managed by Metropolitan Police. She was told to ignore the student, which she did, until the day she says he grabbed her.
“I turned around and said, ‘What the f**k? Did you just touch me on my behind? And I turned around and he was running,” she said.
Roxanna chased him down and is quick to acknowledge, she made a mistake.
“Was it right for me to throw the radio? No. But how much was I supposed to take before I felt as though I had to protect myself?”
Roxanna was arrested and spent a night in jail. She says she has never been arrested before. It wasn’t the simple assault charge that shocked her, but one clearly noted on the arrest report: SEX ABUSE.
“I felt him touching me. Touching my behind,” she recalled. Roxanna says she and other AlliedBarton security officers had been warned NOT to report negative incidents, like students caught smoking marijuana, or there would be a price to pay.
“I was sexually molested and sodomized as a young teenager so to be touched inappropriate like that, it really bothered me. I really was upset. I don’t believe I should have been at work and then violated that way by a student,” she said.
Roxanna is the daughter of a Metropolitan police officer, a grandmother, and a single Mom who raised four sons. She was fired and now faces criminal charges.
“It pretty much hurts. I’ve been working since I was 17 years old. I don’t know what it’s like not to work,” she said.
Roxanna’s story takes another striking turn. Her throwing the radio at the student was caught on tape. The teenager’s alleged groping was not.
“I asked the security officer that runs the camera room if she could show me the tape or the camera that he touched me. And she said, ‘Well, Officer Peterson, that camera doesn’t work.”
And she alleges, many of DC school security cameras are out of order, further putting students at risk.
“I’ve lost everything. Except my home,” said Roxanna, before pausing. “And my faith in God.”
Metropolitan Police said the department did not charge Roxanna with a sex offense and a spokeswoman even wrote, “Not sure where you are getting that information.”
It’s clearly indicated on the arrest record. WUSA9 asked the U.S. Attorneys office too and were told Roxanna only faced the simple assault charge.
In court today, she was asked to do 32 hours of community service. If she completes that successfully and returns to court this fall, the charge could be dismissed.
Eddie Griffin, 47, of Vinita sued the state of Oklahoma and Janice Steidley, the district attorney for Rogers, Mayes and Craig counties.
It is the second federal lawsuit in three months filed against Steidley, who was sued in February by Claremore Police Officer John Singer.
The state Workers Compensation Court found that Griffin, named the “Outstanding Investigator” in 2009 by the Oklahoma District Attorneys Council, developed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease - after suffering a head injury while subduing a man in the Rogers County District Attorney’s Office on Aug. 31, 2010, documents indicate.
Griffin’s speech became noticeably slurred after the altercation, and his disability was “improperly a motivating factor” in Steidley’s decision to fire him Feb. 11, 2011, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Tulsa.
The suit also alleges that the prosecutor refused to provide any reasonable accommodations for Griffin, who was hired by the District Attorney’s Office in 1997, in order to allow him to remain in his position.
Steidley said Friday afternoon that she hadn’t had a chance to review the lawsuit.
“We deny there was any wrongful termination and look forward to presenting our evidence in a court of law,” she said in a text message response.
ALS is a rapidly progressive, fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles.
Griffin, who owns a 250-acre cattle ranch, declined to comment on the lawsuit, but he said his strength is greatly diminished.
“I used to fill my feed buckets all the way up, and they would weigh about 35 pounds,” he said Friday via telephone.
“I would put out about six or eight. Now I’m filling them halfway full and taking 10 to 12 buckets. I just can’t lift as much.”
The lawsuit states that in a letter, Steidley said the reason for Griffin’s firing was “several financial issues and cutbacks,” adding that “I am not able to afford a full-time investigator and I do not know if I will ever be able to fund the position.”
The prosecutor later changed her reason for the termination to “incompetence,” records indicate.
Griffin’s complaint states that Steidley didn’t counsel or discipline him for any work-related issues before firing him.
In a precursor to the lawsuit, Griffin filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In the EEOC’s letter of determination on March 9, it called Steidley’s reason for Griffin’s discharge “unsubstantiated and unbelievable,” noting that she continued to hire investigators and hired one to perform duties previously done by Griffin.
On the evening of his Aug. 31, 2010, scuffle, Griffin experienced pain in his head that caused him to fall to his knees, his complaint states.
A physician’s opinion dated Sept. 23, 2011, says the altercation was the major cause of his head injury, which resulted in the “development of headaches, decreased cognitive function and consequential development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.”
In an unrelated case, Singer, a longtime Claremore police investigator, filed a federal lawsuit against Steidley and First Assistant District Attorney Bryce Lair in February.
Singer alleges that the prosecutors manufactured evidence that he had lied in sworn statements concerning a criminal investigation and then reported the alleged misconduct to law enforcement officials, courts and criminal defense attorneys. Source- Tulsa World
Nashville TN May 2 2013 Kristi Rifkin had been working at T-Mobile Call Center in Nashville for four years when she got pregnant with her third child. She says she loved her job.
“I had a great run,” Rifkin, 40, told ABC News. “I was making bonus. T Mobile was good to me. I never had a problem getting a schedule I wanted. I enjoyed it. I had even left another company to work at T Mobile because they had great benefits.”
But her good will toward the company changed once she got pregnant.
According to Rifkin, the pregnancy-her second (she has one stepson)-was a difficult one, and she was going to the doctor twice a week, seeing both a regular obstetrician and a high-risk obstetrician. She was also required to drink “tons and tons” of water – which, in turn, resulted in frequent trips to the bathroom. This did not sit well with T-Mobile, she said.
“They give you two 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch,” said Rifkin. “If you can’t take care of your biological needs in that time period, you don’t go.”
Before her pregnancy, this wasn’t an issue. But as she explained in a blog post on Moms Rising.org, frequent jaunts to the bathroom would cut into what was known in the call center world as “adherence” – a metric that measures the degree to which employees meet their quota for being on the phone.
“You have different numbers you have to meet each month, and if you don’t meet them they can fire you,” she said. “The thinking is that if you’re off the phone and you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing, then there are customers waiting to talk to you.”
She tried to hold off on eating and drinking; she needed the health insurance the job provided. But the baby was suffering, Rifkin said, and she had to start drinking water again.
Finally, she said, her supervisor pulled her aside and told her to get a note from her doctor explaining that she needed to go the bathroom often. “At that point, I thought my head was going to launch off my shoulders,” said Rifkin. “‘Are you serious? I need to get a note from my doctor to go to the toilet?’ This is a basic biological need.’”
But Rifkin did as she was told; she got the doctor’s note and cleared it with Human Resources. She was told that she could use the rest room any time she needed to, she said, but that she would have to clock out. When she returned from that bathroom, she would have to clock back in. “This meant I was out of work for five minutes,” she said. She had to write the hours down and turn it into her supervisor, just to make sure she wasn’t taking advantage of the situation.
“I ended up using my vacation time to use the bathroom,” she said.
But she still wasn’t eating and drinking as she was supposed to. Her blood pressure skyrocketed. She was stressed and anxious.
She finally went on the Family Medical Leave Act, which requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees, seven weeks before her son, Ian, was born, on May 14, 2010. A month and a half after she returned to work she was fired, she said.
The reason? Rifkin says she was summarily fired after she failed to remove an extra-charge feature from a customer’s account, the commission for which was 12 cents. She says the rare error occurred when she either forgot to remove the charge or removed another charge instead.
She got no severance, she said, and now pays for medical expenses out of pocket.
Rifkin said she has no plans to sue the company; it’s too expensive, and Tennessee is an at-will employment state. “They can fire you for any reason,” she said
The US. Department of Labor reports that only eight states require paid rest periods and Tennessee is not among them.
“There is no specific legal requirement that requires employers to let their employees use the restroom,” Paula Brantner, the executive director of Workplace Fairness, which provides legal information about workers rights. However, “If a pregnant woman is the only employee being forced to clock out, and they don’t require males or non-pregnant females to do so, it would seem to me that would be pregnancy discrimination.”
In an email statement to ABC News, T-Mobile spokesperson Glenn A. Zaccara said that he could not comment on a specific individual. But “T-Mobile employees enjoy generous benefits including paid-time-off and short and long-term disability coverage,” he said. “The company has leave of absence policies in line with regulatory requirements.”
Rifkin was not impressed. “I’m done with T-Mobile,” she said. “I don’t want anything to do with them anymore.”
Source- ABC NEWS
NEW ORLEANS LA April 21 2013 – A Jefferson Parish company is being sued for allegedly terminating a worker who was told she was too old for her job.
Elaine Aderholt filed suit against Metro Security Inc. last month in Jefferson Parish District Court. The defendant removed the case to federal court in New Orleans.
Aderholt was hired by the defendant in January 2006. She claims that during her employment she was subjected to a pattern of age discrimination which culminated when the owner told her that she was too old to be doing this type of work.
Aderholt claims she was retaliated against and was discharged from Metro Security on Feb. 17, 2012. The lawsuit states Aderholt was over the age of 40 when she began her employment with the defendant.
The defendant is accused of negligence for discrimination based upon age, violation of Louisiana law, intentional infliction of emotional distress, retaliation, and failure to supervise employees.
The plaintiff is seeking an award of damages for emotional pain and suffering, lost wages, interest, and court costs.
Aderholt is represented by Myles Steib and Julie Anne Gardner of Gardner & Steib in Metairie.
U.S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier is assigned to the case.
Case No. 2:13-cv-00531
Philadelphia PA April 17 2013
At least five security officers were arrested last week for protesting against a security company who
they alleged had not paid them or cheated them out of their hourly wage.
The demonstration orchestrated with the assistance of a local union blocked traffic and caused a response by local police.
Neither the the names of the security officers nor the name of the company was released.
Cincinnati OH April 15 2013 Some security personnel and off-duty police officers who work at the new Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati have worked since the casino opened, almost five weeks, without receiving a paycheck.
The security staff said that frustration grew after they received excuses without their paycheck.
Frustrations grew eve more after officers had heard that the casino made almost $21 million during the first month of operation.
WLWT News 5 learned Saturday that officers had finally received paychecks but there is no word if the staff received all that they were due.
Friday, a casino spokesperson said a computer error caused the problem and accountants had been working on issuing checks.
Charlotte NC April 5 2013 Facing a wave of employee theft, retailers across the country have helped amass vast databases of workers accused of stealing and are using that information to keep employees from working again in the industry.
Some of the employees, who submit written statements after being questioned by store security officers, have no idea that they admitted committing a theft or that the information will remain in databases, according to interviews with consumer lawyers, regulators and employees. The databases, which have tens of thousands of subscribers and are used by major retailers like Target, CVS and Family Dollar, are aimed at combating employee theft, which accounts for a large swath of missing merchandise. The latest figures available, from 2011, put the loss at about 44 percent of missing merchandise, valued at about $15 billion, according to a trade group, the National Retail Federation. Retailers “don’t want to take a chance on hiring somebody that they might have a problem with,” said Richard Mellor, the federation’s vice president for loss prevention.
But the databases, which are legal, are facing scrutiny from labor lawyers and federal regulators, who worry they are so sweeping that innocent employees can be harmed. The lawyers say workers are often coerced into confessing, sometimes when they have done nothing wrong, without understanding that they will be branded as thieves. The Federal Trade Commission has fielded complaints about the databases and is examining whether they comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a federal law aimed at curbing inaccurate consumer information and giving consumers more control, said Anthony Rodriguez, a staff lawyer at the agency. Screening for suspected episodes of shoplifting is one part of a background check, as companies scour for evidence of criminal convictions or sex-offender registration. Almost all retailers perform background checks, according to a 2011 survey from the federation. But some background-check companies are wary of the theft admissions, which retailers submit to the databases. “That is not a product that we sell, because I think it’s a product fraught with risk and inefficiency,” said William Greenblatt, the chief executive of the background-check company Sterling Infosystems.
LexisNexis agreed last week to pay $13.5 million to settle a class-action suit on behalf of 31,000 people that accused the firm of violating consumer protection laws by selling background checks to debt collectors. The company did not admit wrongdoing. As the economic recovery limps forward, consumer lawyers say, the consequences of the retail theft databases’ can be particularly devastating. With so many job applicants, employers have little incentive to hire someone with a tarnished background. Since the recession, lawsuits have proliferated against the companies that operate retail theft databases, like LexisNexis, which owned Esteem until this year, HireRight and GIS, according to a review of court records. In the last year, the nature of the lawsuits has changed, too, as lawyers try to build class-action cases. HireRight did not return calls for comment, and the other firms declined to comment.
For Keesha Goode, $34.97 in missing merchandise was enough to destroy her future in retailing. Ms. Goode, 28, was a clerk at the discount store Forman Mills in 2008, when she was accused of not ringing up a former employee’s purchases. During a nearly two-hour examination, Ms. Goode, who maintains her innocence, said she had agreed to write out a statement because she worried she would be sent to jail. In looping cursive, she said her accusers were trying to make her out as a liar, adding, “I was just doing my job.” Ms. Goode was immediately fired, and was asked to pay back the $34.97. She had no idea, she said, that the statement would go into a shared database. She received a letter from Dollar General alerting her that she had been turned down for a job partly because of her listing in Esteem, and a copy of the report showed that she had a “verified admission” for “theft of merchandise.” She wrote LexisNexis, “I was accused of not reporting on a former employee who was stealing merchandise, but I did not steal anything myself.” The company responded that it had reinvestigated and “verified” the accuracy of the information. Ms. Goode, who now works at a halfway house, has a lawsuit pending against LexisNexis, accusing the company of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Forman Mills and Dollar General did not respond to requests for comment. LexisNexis has moved to toss out the lawsuit, arguing that the company abided by the law, according to court filings. As in Ms. Goode’s case, the admission statements are typically obtained by a store’s security force. Employees are often willing to say anything to ward off what can feel like an interrogation, the lawyers say. Another problem: the employee is informally accused and ultimately deprived of the protections, like due process, that a suspect would receive in a police precinct, for example. Lawyers also say that admission forms do not typically warn employees that it will go on their record. “We’re not talking about a criminal record, which either is there or is not there — it’s an admission statement which is being provided by an employer,” said Irv Ackelsberg, a lawyer at Langer, Grogan & Diver who represents Ms. Goode. Such statements may contain no outright admission of guilt, like one submitted after Kyra Moore, then a CVS employee, was accused of stealing: “picked up socks left them at the checkout and never came back to buy them,” it read. When Ms. Moore later applied for a job at Rite Aid, she was deemed “noncompetitive.” She is suing Esteem. CVS, noting that it is not a defendant in this lawsuit, said that many retail companies used Esteem “to report and share information about employees who have admitted to theft from their employers,” and that CVS only sent written theft admissions to Esteem. Still, lawyers say those admissions can be problematic. The database is “a secret blacklist,” Mr. Ackelsberg said. “The employees don’t know about it until they have already been hurt.”
Source: The Daily Times
CLARKSVILLE, TENN. Feb 14 2013— A group of former and current security guard employees at Gateway Medical Center filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming their employment was terminated in January 2012 because of their age .
On Feb. 1, the U.S. EEOC’s investigation determined that “Gateway terminated the charging party’s employment and the employment of other older security guards due to their age.”
The investigation further revealed that Gateway offered a severance agreement to older security guards in an effort to obtain a waiver of rights which failed to meet the requirements for waiver or rights and claims under the Age Discrimination Employment Act of 1967 and Gateway’s severance agreement violated the ADEA.
The EEOC suggested informal methods of conference, conciliation and persuasion, in their determination letter.
Benita Martin, spokeswoman at Gateway Medical Center released a statement about the matter.
“Gateway Medical Center is an equal opportunity employer and committed to employment practices that do not discriminate in accordance with all applicable government laws and regulations. Now that the EEOC has issued its preliminary decision, we move to the next phase of this process. We will not comment further while this matter is pending,” the statement said.
Carl Hollis, 51, is one of eight Gateway security employees who has sought legal representation to handle the age discrimination claim.
Hollis began working as a security guard at Gateway Medical Center in October 2005, had clean evaluations and was even was employee of the month in June 2010, according to his records.
On Jan. 29, 2012 Gateway terminated his employment stating there was an “elimination of the security department,” according to his official separation notice.
“They brought all 12 of us to human resources, sat us down and they had a little packet made up with a separation notice, a waiver to not blow the whistle,” Hollis said. “We didn’t sign it.”
According to Hollis’ separation notice he was permanently laid off because there was a lack of work. In a letter from the human resources director, it was stated Hollis’ position was eliminated because of “restructuring and/or reduction in force.”
Following the termination, the nine former guards filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC stating “a consulting company suggested that Gateway replace guards over the age of 40 with guards that are under 35 years old.” The consulting company, Hospitals Security Services, that made the suggestion was then hired by Gateway to provide security at the hospital,” according to the claim.
On March 5, 2012, he and other former security guards received a letter from Gateway stating his employment had ceased due to the elimination of the security department and concerns were raised. He was offered the option to return to Gateway at the same pay rate, with the same benefits as well as back pay from Jan. 29 to March 5, 2012.
He and several others returned to work at Gateway, he said.
“We felt like we should go back,” Hollis said. “We all needed a paycheck.”
When they returned there was another security department in place- Hospital Security Services, he said. The nine still operated as Gateway security guards and were separate from HSS, Hollis said.
Hollis said he decided to end his employment with Gateway in Sept. 2012 due to several issues at Gateway.
“The principle is you can’t do people like this,” Hollis said. “If someone does something egregious and don’t want to do their job can them, but just because you think they’re too old that’s not right. I needed my job and I did a good job. … This about more than just money. My reputation has been sullied. I was a much better employee than they were employers.
Detroit Mi Jan 31 2013 A former armored car guard claims in a federal lawsuit the company he worked for shortchanged him thousands of dollars in overtime pay.
Sampson Talbert, a Clinton Township resident, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Detroit this month. He charged Garda CL Great Lakes with violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. Garda provides armored-car service around the country. Talbert worked at a facility the company operates in Livonia.
In the lawsuit, Talbert claims he was denied overtime pay by Garda despite working 50- and even 60-hour weeks during his 13 months of employment.
“(Garda) had a policy and practice of paying the time-and-a-half overtime ‘premium’ to Mr. Talbert only for hours worked in excess of 50 hours per week, and ‘straight’ pay for all weekly hours below that amount,” the lawsuit contends.
“(Garda) failed to pay an overtime premium to Mr. Talbert for his first 10 hours of overtime worked in a week.”
Ari Kresch, the Southfield lawyer representing Talbert, said his client was shorted about $5,000, but the “willful” nature of the company’s action could qualify for punitive damages well in excess of that amount.
“If you just got back from the defendant what they would have to pay, there is no incentive to stop the behavior,” Kresch said.
Source-The MaComb Daily
YONKERS NY Jan 26 2013 — Saying co-workers retaliated against her over a gay pride flag tattoo on her arm, an openly gay security officer at Yonkers Raceway is suing the Empire City casino and four supervisors, alleging discrimination.
Suzanne Elizabeth Keceli, 44, of Yonkers, claims in the lawsuit that she has suffered “severe anxiety and depression” after being subjected to a hostile work environment since showing co-workers and supervisors her rainbow flag tattoo last April. Supervisors told her to cover the tattoo with long sleeves or bandages, she says in the lawsuit filed last week in state Supreme Court in White Plains.
Keceli, who is seeking an unspecified amount of money, had tattoos for years of bullets and “69” on her arm, which the public could see while she worked, the lawsuit says. It wasn’t an issue, but things changed when she got the flag tattoo, she’s alleging.
“You can’t have that,” Lt. Brian Schulder reportedly told her as she left a locker room April 29, 2012, three days after getting the tattoo. “It’s not permitted.”
She alleges that the next day Sgt. Emilio Filopei summoned her to his office, where Schulder told her that Chief Charles Cola said she would have to wear long sleeves to cover her tattoos, which were viewed as offensive under company policy.
Keceli was “left speechless and distraught,” the lawsuit says, complaining to Schulder about “the blatant sexual-orientation based discrimination.” Schulder reportedly told her “that it had nothing to do with the Gay Pride Flag, but then admitted that the Gay Pride Flag ‘put it over the top with all the colors.’”
Keceli says she complained about the discrimination to several other security supervisors, several union officials and top management including Danette Jordan, director of human resources, and Robert Galterio, the casino’s vice president. She claims Jordan and Galterio didn’t take action.
After she complained to Lt. Benny Febres, who isn’t being sued, he reportedly told her to “put band aids all over her body to cover her tattoos” and gave her some band aids, the lawsuit says.
Named as defendants are the parent companies of Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway as well as Filopei, Schulder, Jordan and Galterio.
Security officials declined to comment on the lawsuit, referring questions to the casino’s legal department, which had no immediate comment. Schulder did not return a phone message, and Edward Kennedy, a lawyer for Keceli, declined to talk about the suit beyond what was in the civil complaint.
Keceli, who has worked as a peace officer at the raceway for five years and continues to be employed there, claims she suffered humiliation, embarrassment and emotional distress. She has sought help from a therapist and says in the lawsuit that the harassment continues.
“Plaintiff Keceli feels that any ordinary person in her shoes would feel compelled to resign from her employment,” the lawsuit says.
Metro Special Police & Security Services, Inc. Sued by EEOC for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation www.privateofficer.com
CHARLOTTE, N.C.Jan 24 2013 – Metro Special Police & Security Services, Inc., a Charlotte-based provider of private security and public safety services, violated federal law by subjecting male employees to sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. The EEOC also charged the company with unlawfully suspending, demoting and/or discharging some male employees for complaining about sexual harassment or filing discrimination charges with the EEOC.
According to the EEOC’s suit, Officers James Pedersen, Eric Steele, Daniel Griffis and a class of similarly situated male employees were subjected to sexual harassment by a captain and a lieutenant employed by the company. The EEOC contends the captain made offensive comments to his male subordinate employees, solicited nude pictures from them, asked male employee to undress in front of him, and solicited male employees for sex. The captain and lieutenant forced male employees to accompany them to gay strip bars while on duty. The captain touched the chests and genitals of male employees. Additionally, the captain offered promotions to male employees in exchange for sex. The lieutenant asked a male employee if he had sex with males or females.
Male employees complained about the captain’s and lieutenant’s conduct by telling them to stop, and they complained to their supervisor and the company’s owner/CEO, the EEOC said. In spite of the complaints, the company failed to prevent and promptly correct the harassment. In addition, certain employees who complained were suspended, demoted and/or discharged, the agency charges.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who complain about discrimination in the workplace. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Metro Special Police & Security Services, Inc, Civil Action No. 3:13-CV-39), after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The agency seeks back pay for those claimants entitled, as well as compensatory and punitive damages for all claimants, and injunctive relief.
“All employees, men and women alike, are entitled to a workplace free from sexual harassment,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “It is particularly alarming when sexual harassment is perpetrated by a high-ranking supervisor, the company shuns its legal responsibility to stop it, and employees suffer retaliatory acts for lawfully voicing their concerns.”
Tina Burnside, supervisory trial attorney in the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office, added, “Under Title VII, employers have a legal duty to ensure that sexual harassment does not permeate the workplace, and employers are responsible for ensuring that their supervisors know that sexual harassment is against the law and will not be tolerated.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at http://www.eeoc.gov.
Nashville TN Jan 23 2013 A Nashville man lost his job, and he says it’s all because of a T-shirt he wore.
A former employee of Rocketown, a venue that serves as a hangout for teenagers, said he was fired for wearing a shirt that promoted marriage equality.
The employee, Wes Breedwell, said he was a seven-year employee of the downtown Nashville business.
Rocketown hosts bands and also has a skate park. Christian singer Michael W. Smith is the founder of Rocketown.
A publicist for Rocketown told The Tennessean that the organization does not comment on personnel but added “an employee would not be fired for expressing opinions on marriage.”
The shirt was created by a punk band called “Hostage Calm,” which quickly took to social media after learning about Breedwell’s dismissal.
The band has played at the venue, but said they will no longer perform there and called Breedwell’s firing “equality under attack.”
Security officers sue The Cosmopolitan for forcing them to work without compensation www.privateofficer.com
Las Vegas NV Jan 19 2013 A pair of security guards at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas have sued the resort for forcing them to work off the clock without compensation.
The case, brought in Clark County District Court, seeks class-action status for more than 200 people in the security department.
According to the complaint filed on Wednesday, guards Basil Black and Aaron James were required to perform tasks such as checking in and checking out equipment while not punched in for their shifts. In addition, they were not paid for the time they actually worked if it ran beyond their schedules.
The guards claim the practice has been going for three years. Court papers did not include an estimated amount of damages.
Cosmopolitan officials declined to comment.
Washington DC Dec 19 2012 – Department store chain Dillard’s Inc. is paying $2 million to settle charges that it illegally required workers who took sick leave to reveal confidential medical information.
The settlement, announced Tuesday by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, resolves a four-year-old class action lawsuit that charged Dillard’s with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The EEOC said thousands of current and former Dillard employees who sought sick leave were forced to submit a doctor’s note explaining not just that they were being treated, but the exact nature of their medical condition. The commission says workers who didn’t feel comfortable disclosing details of their treatment were fired, even when doctors advised them not to reveal private medical information.
Dillard’s, which has about 300 stores across 29 states, had argued that the policy was needed to confirm medical absences were legitimate. But the EEOC says employers are not allowed to ask for particulars of treatment unless they are job-related and necessary for the conduct of business.
“We commend Dillard’s for agreeing to measures that will prevent and effectively address potential disability discrimination,” Anna Park, an EEOC attorney, said in a statement.
The settlement also resolves allegations that Dillard’s fired some workers for taking more sick leave than the company allowed. The company did not confer with employees to see whether more leave was allowed under federal law to accommodate a worker’s disability, the EEOC said.
Under a three-year consent decree, Dillard’s will pay $2 million to identified victims and establish a class fund for victims who are not yet identified.
Employees who worked at Dillard’s between Aug. 16, 2005 and Aug. 15, 2009, can qualify to receive a monetary settlement award. In addition, anyone who worked at Dillard’s and believes they were terminated after May 28, 2008 for taking too much sick leave can make a claim.
The consent decree requires Dillard’s to hire a consultant to review and revise company policies and train supervisors and staff on federal disability law. The company will submit annual reports verifying compliance.
Seattle WA Dec 15 2012 More than 50 Sea-Tac Airport workers are leveling serious accusations against two airline subcontractors. They claim exposure to toxic chemicals, human waste and a lack of training is causing hazardous work conditions.
The State Department of Labor and Industries is investigating the claims, with inspections starting this week. Carol Worman has been a wheelchair assistance worker for almost three years. She recalled a disturbing experience with a passenger this summer.
“He had a barf bag and was still throwing up the whole time,” said Worman.
Worman claims she isn’t given protective gloves or a mask.
“There’s always a chance I get a passenger that’s sick and I don’t know what they have,” she said.
According to Worman, she went to managers for help, but they didn’t. Instead, she had no choice but to clean her wheelchair with hand sanitizer.
“You just kind of give up. You’re tired of being told no,” said Worman.
Other abuse allegations are taking off.
“Serious violations of health, safety and wage theft at Sea-Tac airport,” said Genevieve Aguilar with Puget Sound Sage, who helped organize the event.
Organizers claim at least 70% of employees have worked overtime hours and have not been paid.
Complaints were filed by workers against Aircraft Service International Group (ASIG), Delta Global Services (DGS), BAGS,Inc, and AirServ Corporation, which subcontract for Alaska, Delta United and American Airlines.
An aircraft cabin cleaner who didn’t want to be identified because of fear of being fired said he’s only issued one pair of gloves a day.
Leon Sams refuels planes.
“At least once a day I’ll go out and something is leaking, leaking jet fuel somewhere,” he said.
“We’re basically going from paycheck to paycheck trying to live,” said Worman.
The wheelchair assistance worker says she just wants to do her job, without the baggage.
“I can’t afford to come down with something serious, that’s going to take me out of work,” she said.
Both the airline companies and their subcontractors didn’t return calls for comment.
L & I’s inspections will continue the next couple months.
If violations are found in its final report, fines could be issued.