Tuesday, December 11, 2012

DHL Global Forwarding Pays $201,000 to Settle EEOC National Origin Discrimination Suit

Hispanic Workers Were Singled Out for Harassment, Agency Charged

DALLAS - Air Express International, USA, Inc. and Danzas  Corporation, doing business as DHL Global Forwarding, will pay $201,000  to nine employees and provide other significant relief to settle a national  origin hostile environment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment  Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  The  settlement, announced today, resolves the EEOC's and Plaintiff-Intervenor  Carlos Villanueva's claims against DHL Global.   The EEOC charged DHL Global with subjecting a class of Hispanic employees to national origin  discrimination.  The EEOC's suit also  resolved a retaliation claim by one non-Hispanic employee who was allegedly  fired for a brief time after he reported the treatment of Hispanic employees.
According to the EEOC's suit,  Case No. 3:11-cv-02581 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of  Texas, Dallas Division, Hispanic employees at DHL's Dallas warehouse were  constantly subjected to taunts and derogatory names such as "wetback,"  "beaner," "stupid Mexican" and "Puerto Rican b---h".   According to the EEOC, Hispanic workers, who  included persons of Mexican, Salvadoran and Puerto Rican heritage, were often  ridiculed by DHL personnel with demeaning slurs which included referring to the  Salvadoran worker as a "salvatrucha," a term referring to a gangster.  Other workers were identified with derogatory  stereotypes by being told they should be outside the facility "mowing the  grass" or that their "homies" were on a television show about prison.  The EEOC further asserts that company  supervisors made harsh admonitions to bilingual employees about use of their  Spanish language on the job.  The agency  asserts that these admonitions were motivated by prejudice, unnecessary and  unrelated to the effective performance of the job duties.
The EEOC complained that DHL  Global officials ignored the complaints of employees even after the  discriminatory conduct was reported to management.  The EEOC's suit also alleged that DHL Global  retaliated against Troy Petty, a union steward, by firing him after he reported  the mistreatment of Hispanic employees to DHL officials on numerous occasions.  Petty was ultimately returned to work and  continues to be employed with the other affected employees.
"Intimidation and ridicule  based on a worker's ethnicity isn't just dehumanizing, it's un-American," said  EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Joel Clark.   "Employers must respond immediately to the multiple reports of  harassment and eliminate the problems so as not to permit an atmosphere of  contempt and mockery."
National origin discrimination in  the workplace, including national origin harassment, and retaliation for  complaining about it, violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to  reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. 
Robert A. Canino, regional attorney  for the EEOC's Dallas District Office, said, "Bullying Hispanic workers for  speaking a language other than English is a distinct form of discrimination,  which, when coupled with ethnic slurs, is clearly motivated by prejudice and  national origin animus.  Sometimes job  discrimination isn't just about hiring, firing or promotion; it's about an  employer promoting disharmony and disrespect through an unhealthy work  environment."
The three-year consent decree  settling the case, signed by Judge Sam A. Lindsay on Nov. 30, provides for a  permanent injunction against DHL Global that prohibits the company from further  discriminating against any employee on the basis of national origin, harassing  any employee on the basis of national origin or retaliating in any way against  any person because of opposition to any practice declared unlawful by Title  VII.  DHL Global will pay $201,000 in  monetary relief and develop strong policies to respond to reports of national  origin discrimination.  In addition, DHL  Global will conduct annual anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training,  which will include instruction on the prevention of  national origin harassment in the workplace.  The training will also advise employees of the  consequences imposed for violating federal anti-discrimination law.  Each new hire will be provided a copy of DHL  Global's non-discrimination policy, and the company will provide  copies of its anti-harassment policies in both English and Spanish to its  employees. 
As part of the settlement,  EEOC will monitor compliance with the consent decree.  DHL will provide EEOC a log of all employee  complaints alleging national origin discrimination or  retaliation.  DHL also agreed to  impose discipline -- up to and including termination, suspension without pay or  demotion upon anyone found to have engaged in national origin discrimination.
Janet V. Elizondo, director  of the EEOC's Dallas District Office, said, "Employers should not characterize  persons of various Hispanic national origins as though they are all likely to  be non-citizens. Subjecting employees to personal and degrading attacks based  on their ethnicity, heritage or culture does not make for good business.  We are very pleased with the resolution in  this case, which is forward-looking and allows these men to continue in their  jobs free of insults and intimidation."
The EEOC enforces federal  laws prohibiting employment discrimination.   Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

UPS Sued By EEOC for Religious Discrimination

Package  Delivery Company Fired Jehovah's Witness Over His Request to Attend Annual  Service, Federal Agency Charges

NEWARK, N.J. - Global package delivery company United Parcel  Service, Inc. (UPS) violated federal anti-discrimination law when it fired a  truck loader because of his request to attend an annual Jehovah's Witness  service, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a  lawsuit it filed November 29, 2012.
According to the EEOC's suit, UPS failed to accommodate the  request of a newly hired truck loader at its Saddle Brook, N.J. facility to  modify his schedule so that he could attend the Memorial of Christ's Death, an  annual religious service, pursuant to his beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness.  The employee requested that he either start a  different day, start later than his scheduled time on his start date, or be  given an hour's leave during his shift to attend the ceremony and return to  work.  UPS denied his request, the EEOC  said, requiring that he report to work as scheduled, and told him this was  non-negotiable.  When the employee  refused to compromise his religious beliefs and attended the Memorial instead of  reporting to work, UPS fired him.  UPS  also assigned him a "do not hire" status, and refused to hire him when he  applied for a different position at UPS's Staten Island facility.
This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights  Act of 1964.  The EEOC filed the lawsuit  in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey (Civil Action No.: 2:12-CV-07334)  after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court.
"Federal law requires employers to make reasonable  accommodations for their employees' religious beliefs and practices," said  Elizabeth Grossman, regional attorney of the EEOC New York District Office.  "Where a request for a religious accommodation does not result in an undue  hardship to the employer, the employee's request must be respected."
Ana Consuelo Martinez, trial attorney in the New York  District Office, added, "The law protects employees from having to choose  between their religion and their employment, especially when an employee's  religious needs only minimally impact the employer." 
The EEOC's New York District Office has jurisdiction over  Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island,  Vermont, and portions of New Jersey.
The EEOC is the government agency responsible for enforcing  federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment.  Further information about the EEOC is  available at www.eeoc.gov.

RockTenn Services Pays $500,000 to Settle EEOC Race Harassment Suit

Racist  Graffiti and Noose Found at Worksite and Employer Ignored Complaints, Federal  Agency Charged

DALLAS - RockTenn Services Company, Inc. an Atlanta-based  manufacturing company, will pay $500,000 to 14 employees and provide other  significant relief to settle a racially hostile environment lawsuit brought by  the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency  announced today.  The consent decree  settling the suit, signed today by U.S. Federal District Judge Jane Boyle,  resolves the EEOC's claims against RockTenn.   The EEOC charged RockTenn with subjecting a class of African-American employees to race discrimination. 
According to the EEOC's suit, Case No. 3:10-cv-01960 in U.S.  District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, a class of  African-American employees were subjected to violent, racist graffiti, including  "KKK," swastikas, Confederate flags, "white power" and other racist  terms, including "die, n----r, die."   RockTenn employees also saw hangman's nooses displayed at its Dallas paper  mill.  Several employees were referred to  by racist slurs including "n----r."  Michael Scott, who filed a discrimination  charge with the EEOC, was a called a "n----r" by his supervisor.  Scott later discovered a noose at his work station.  The EEOC complained that RockTenn officials repeatedly  ignored the complaints of racist graffiti even after it was reported to  management on multiple occasions, including at monthly labor-management  meetings.
The EEOC was set to go to trial on this case before U.S. District  Court for the Northern District of Texas on Dec. 3.  In addition to presenting testimony from the  class of 14 black employees, the EEOC expected to call two white employees of  RockTenn to testify about numerous instances of racist graffiti and racial  comments by managers made at the paper mill.
"Racism in any form is bad enough, but racist graffiti that  included Confederate flags and death wishes accompanied by vile racist epithets  go far beyond the pale even of prejudice," said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Joel  Clark.  "Terms like 'KKK' evoke violent  and threatening attitudes towards African-Americans.  RockTenn should have immediately responded to  the reports of racist graffiti instead of permitting their employees to work in  an atmosphere full of these menacing, racist taunts."
Race discrimination  in the workplace, including race harassment, violates Title  VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The  EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement  through its conciliation process. 
Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC's Dallas  District Office, said, "This case demonstrates racism at its most hateful  level.  The violations in this case are  especially odious in light of the multiple reports of racist graffiti made by  numerous employees.  The EEOC will  continue to aggressively pursue employers that violate their workers' rights."
The two-year consent decree settling the case provides for  an injunction against RockTenn that prohibits the company from further discriminating  against any employee or harassing any employee on the basis of race.  RockTenn will pay $500,000 in monetary relief  and will conduct annual anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training.  As part of the decree, RockTenn also agreed to  implement an anti-graffiti policy, which requires the company to conduct  weekly monitoring of its facilities and to also discipline any employee found  to have created graffiti.
Janet V. Elizondo, director of the EEOC's Dallas District Office, said, "This  resolution is a tremendous step forward in the EEOC's continuing  effort to put an end to such intolerable, racially offensive working  environments.  Employers must be more  vigilant and make clear that race discrimination has no place in the  workplace."
  According  to company information, Rock-Tenn is one of North America's leading  manufacturers of paperboard, containerboard and consumer and corrugated  packaging.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment  discrimination.  Further information  about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov

Human Resources Manager Sexually Harassed Female Human Resource Assistant

Then Fired Her After She Complained, Federal Agency Alleged

RALEIGH, N.C. - Safelite Glass Co., the nation's leading provider of auto glass repair and replacement services, will pay $50,000 and furnish other relief to settle a federal lawsuit for sexual harassment and retaliation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
The EEOC's lawsuit against Safelite charged that Lee Laraviere-Steele, who worked as a human resources assistant at Safelite's facility in Enfield, N.C., was subjected to unwelcome sexual comments and touching by the facility's human resources manager (EEOC v. Safelite Glass Co., Civil Action No. 4:10cv102, in the Eastern District of North Carolina).  The lawsuit further alleged that when Laraviere-Steele complained about the sexual harassment in March 2008, the company failed to take action to stop the harassment, but rather retaliated against Laraviere-Steele by firing her.  
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace and retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment or other types of employment discrimination.  
In addition to paying Lee Laraviere-Steele monetary damages, the consent decree settling the suit requires Safelite to provide annual training on sex discrimination and retaliation, post a notice concerning employees' rights under Title VII, and provide periodic reports to the EEOC concerning how the company responded to complaints that it received, if any, concerning inappropriate sexual conduct in the workplace.  Safelite must also provide periodic reports to the EEOC concerning how it responded to any complaints it received about any other type of discrimination covered by Title VII.
"Once an employee complains about sexual harassment by a supervisor in the workplace, the employer is required under federal law to take appropriate action to stop it," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney of the EEOC's Charlotte District.  "Also, employers must ensure that employees are protected from retaliation after complaints are made." 
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Estate Planning Pointers

Whether a large or small estate, estate planning is important and you must try avoiding eight major problems in estate planning:

* not having a plan
* online or do it yourself estate plans
* failure to review beneficiary designations and  
   titling assets
* failure to consider the estate and gift tax
  consequences of life insurance
* maximizing annual gifts
* failure to take advantage of the estate tax
  exemption in 2012
* leaving assets outright to adult children
* divorce

Eight methods used to avoid probate are:
* set-up payable on death accounts
* name a beneficiary for your retirement accounts
*name a beneficiary for stocks and bonds
* name a beneficiary for your vehicle
* name a beneficiary for your real estate
* hold property in joint ownership
* create a living trust
* take advantage of special procedures for small estates
* make gifts

Your Will, perhaps the most essential reason to make an estate plan is to have a say about who gets your property when you die. A will is the easiest way to do this.  If you dont use a will or some other legal method to transfer your property when you die, state law determines what happens to your possessions.  In addition to specifying who will inherit your property, you can also use your will to:
· name alternates, in case your first choices die before you do
· choose an executor, someone you trust to oversee the distribution of your property after your death
· name a guardian to raise your young children if you cant, 
· name a trusted adult to manage the property that a child or young adult inherits from you.

Figeroux & Associates
26 Court Street, Suite 701
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Tel: 718–834-0190
Fax: 718-222-3153