Stop Employment Discrimination Now! Equal Employment Opportunities For Everyone!

equalEveryone has the right to equal employment opportunities. Unfortunately a lot of people were denied jobs because they are different. An employer cannot discriminate against a worker due to their membership in a protected class. Characteristics of a protected class are:


  • race color
  • national origin
  • sex
  • religion
  • age
  • disability
  • pregnancy
  • sexual orientation (in some states and cities)

Continue reading

$ 3.5 Million Award for Wrongful Termination

In a recent article posted on The Employment Law Group Blog entitled: Federal Jury Awards Whistleblower $3.5 Million in Alaska Retaliation Case, is reported that a federal jury awarded Paul Blakeslee $3.5 million because of the illicit activity of his former employer. As it was proved, Shaw Environment & Infrastructure Inc fired Paul Blakeslee for reporting suspicious dealings by a manager of the company’s maintenance work on Alaskan military bases.

According to Mr. Blakeslee’s lawyers, the verdict included $2.5 million in punitive damages becoming so one of the largest judicial decisions in an employment case in Alaska history. It also may happen that after supplemental awards by the court, the final value of the verdict will pass $4 million.

Shaw Environment & Infrastructure Inc is a Louisiana-based contractor for the U.S. Army. The jury came to the conclusion that Shaw Environment & Infrastructure Inc fired Paul Blakeslee for reporting that the other manager was billing the Army at inflated rates for equipment leased from his own company. Shaw Environment & Infrastructure Inc stated the firing was independent, but the jury called it retaliation and said it violated the False Claims Act.

The question of discrimination was also raised in the court. As Mr. Blakeslee was 71 at the time he was fired, the jury accused Shaw Environment & Infrastructure Inc of age discrimination against Paul Blakeslee.

Continue reading

California Court Strikes a Blow to Piece Rate Employment


Piece work is defined by Wikipedia as any type of employment in which a worker is paid a fixed piece rate for each unit produced or action performed regardless of time. Piece rate work is the oldest form of performance related pay.

A California appeals court ruled Tuesday that a class of auto mechanics paid on a piece-rate basis were also entitled to minimum wages for time spent waiting during their shifts and that their employer could not average their compensation to show minimum wage compliance.

The case involved a Mercedes Benz dealership called Downtown LA Motors LP.  The dealership employed a practice whereby it paid technicians well above minimum wage for the time spent working on repairs, ensured that a worker’s pay never fell below this minimum threshold by supplementing the technician’s pay if it did.

The issue at stake was whether an employer who compensates its automotive service technicians on a piece rate basis for repair work must also pay those technicians a separate minimum hourly wage for the time spent during their work shifts waiting for vehicles to repair or performing other non repair tasks during their downtime.

The dealership sought to use an averaging method (i.e. above hour minimum wage while  working to repair vehicles and no wages while idle) to determine an employer’s minimum wage obligations under California State law.  The second District Court used the 2005 ruling in Armenta v. Osmose Inc. to determine that the dealership had violated California State law by failing to pay the technicians minimum wage for the hours they spent waiting to repair cars during their shift.

The court rejected the argument presented by the dealership that it was not required to pay the technicians a separate hourly minimum wage for the waiting time because it used a formula to insure that the compensation paid to that technician for the total hours spent at work always exceeded the minimum hourly wage required under California State law.  This was achieved by supplementing a technician’s pay anytime that the total pay fell below the minimum hourly wage requirement for the total time period spent at work.

The Appeals Court upheld the lower court’s award of $1.5 million that was to be paid to the technician class and added another $237,840 in penalties for the dealership’s willful failure to pay wages.

What’s interesting is that this particular case is only one of several cases related to piece rate pay and commission pay that are pending in the State of California. These cases are estimated to affect close to 2 million employees in the State of California.

Employment: How to Use Social Media in Your Job Search

A recent Forbes article written by Jacquelyn Smith entitled: How Social Media Can Help (Or Hurt) You In Your Job Search, provides some interesting insights into the world of employment opportunities through Social Media.

Most people know that Social Media is not just for connecting with one of your childhood or high school friends you haven’t seen for ages, and sharing what has been going on in your life. Nowadays you can use this on-line tool to maximum advantage to your career prospects.

In addition to a résumé, cover letter, or interview, many employers successfully use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ to get a more objective impression of a potential candidate or to connect with their current and former colleagues. These websites are also good resources for you to learn about companies you are interested in and hear about job openings at once.

This explains why nearly half of all job seekers are active on social networks every day, and more than a third of all employers and hiring managers use these sites in their hiring process.

According to Lee Hecht Harrison, a career transition and talent development consulting firm, 48% percent of job seekers are active on social networking sites on a daily basis, 19% log on about two or three times per week, 22% use social networking sites one to three times per month, or less. Only 11% of job seekers never use social networking websites.

Helene Cavalli, Marketing Vice President at Lee Hecht Harrison, and Greg Simpson, Senior Vice President at Lee Hecht Harrison, stated that Social Media is an increasingly important tool in a job search strategy, and job seekers must understand how hiring managers and recruiters are using social media in all phases of the selection process.

Last year, surveyed 2,303 hiring managers and human resource professionals throughout the U.S. via an on-line poll asking if, how, and why they include social media into their hiring process.

According to the CareerBuilder survey, nearly two in five companies (37 %) use social networking sites to research job candidates. 15 % of the employers, who do not research candidates on social media, said their company prohibits the practice. 11% report they do not currently use social media to screen, but plan to start.

Though 12% of hiring mangers said they are using Social Media to uncover reasons not to hire a candidate, most said they are trying to dig deeper than the traditional interview to find out: 65% whether the job seeker presents himself or herself professionally, 51% whether the candidate is a good fit for the company culture, 45% want to learn more about the candidate’s qualifications, and 35% want to see if the candidate is well-rounded.

So, Jacquelyn Smith advises those job seekers who use social networks to be careful.

While candidates may be aware that their social profiles are public to employers’ watchful eyes, they may not realize their on-line personas are costing them a job. 34% of employers said the following social media discoveries led to a candidate not getting the gig:

“If you choose to share content publicly on social media, make sure it’s working to your advantage,” says Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. “Take down or secure anything that could potentially be viewed by an employer as unprofessional and share content that highlights your accomplishments and qualifications in a positive way.”

Brad Schepp, co-author of How To Find A Job On LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+, says: Make sure any profiles you write are free of typos, the information is coherent and applicable to your industry [or job you’re trying to land], and your photos present you in a favorable light. You can verify the applicability of the information by checking profiles of others in the same field.”

Not all employers use social media to screen candidates out. 29% of hiring managers said some discoveries have led to them extending an offer:This means the job seekers shouldn’t just focus on hiding or removing inappropriate content. They should work on creating on-line profiles that do a really good job of representing their skills and experience in the workplace.

Brad Schepp shared tips for finding a job using social networking sites. Here’s what he suggests:

1. Create Relevant Profiles

Convincing, professional profiles, which include your job history, should demonstrate not only what you’ve accomplished, but where your strengths are and what you can offer future employers.

2. Network

Connect with others in your industry. LinkedIn’s Groups are an excellent place to do this, Schepp says. Join those groups that appear especially active and vibrant, and then introduce yourself to the other members.

3. Be Engaged

Follow companies in your field on LinkedIn and Twitter so you’re automatically notified about new hires, product developments, and other news. “Like” companies you’re interested in and join the conversation about industry trends on Facebook. This is a great way to demonstrate your expertise and value to a potential employer.

4. Be Known As A Resource

If you regularly answer questions on LinkedIn and provide links to great content on Facebook and Twitter, you are building your social capital.

5. Don’t Ask For A Job

Keep your name in front of people in a position to help your career. And instead of asking people outright for a job, make connections with the right people and let them see you are an intelligent, qualified candidate by updating your statuses several times a week, providing content to the groups you join, and tweeting about that interesting article you just read.

6. Search For Jobs

Websites Simply Hired, CareerBuilder, Monster and Indeed provide access to millions of job postings and are used by a proportionate number of job seekers. Improve the odds in your favor by looking for jobs on company Twitter feeds, on their Facebook pages, and in LinkedIn Groups.

7. Make A Plan

It’s also important to have a plan in mind when you set out to use these sites as part of a job search. Don’t try and do too many disparate tasks all day, every day. You’ll waste too much time and not do anything as well as you could have if you were more organized and disciplined. Work on your profile one day, join groups another, and follow companies a third.

Our Legal Bistro website is a great platform for lawyers’ career prospects. So, we hope the information above will be useful not only to our blog readers but also will help our lawyers become more attractive for their future clients.

Weight Discrimination: Obesity Is More Than Just Health Problems

Obese individuals discrimination. Isn’t that illegal? Do we have laws protecting against weight discrimination?

A recent Wall Street Journal article, entitled: Weigh More, Pay More on Samoa Air, reports that a tiny South Pacific airline is pioneering a radical pricing model that no other airline has dared to try: charging passengers based on their weight.

Samoa Air customers flying on short international distances are set to pay US $ 0.92 per kilogram for each flight.

According to the World Health Organization, about 55.5% of the country’s population over the age of 20 is considered obese, what explains why passenger weight is the matter of great importance for Samoa Air, which operates with smaller planes that seat between three and 10 passengers each. That means a grossly fat passenger could essentially reduce a plane’s capacity, which in its turn could cause a loss of company’s income.

“We are like a shopkeeper; we are selling weight. But with the weight goes the responsibility of being able to seat the passenger comfortably,” said Samoa Air Chief Executive Chris Langton to The Wall Street Journal. He paid attention to the fact that while a 160-kilogram person on Samoa Air will pay four times as much as a 40 kilogram person, the airline would ensure more space for the bigger passenger.

The change caused heated discussion on Samoa Air’s Facebook page, where many called for a boycott of the airline based on discrimination. There were others who absolutely commended the company for its decision on charging by weight.

While Samoa Air could wake up the profit-starved industry, many of the world’s airlines have so far been hesitating to gain advantage from passenger weight because of discrimination concerns.

There is no doubt that a great number of Americans are obese. According to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012, a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health, half of all American adults are expected to be obese by 2030.before

The social consequences of obesity include discrimination in employment, barriers in education, biased attitudes from health care professionals, stereotypes in the media, and stigma in interpersonal relationships.

As most cases involving weight are employment discrimination cases, and many of them are unsuccessful, in an article by Donna Ballman entitled: Is Weight Discrimination At Work Illegal?, are reported the top ways you might be protected under the law against discrimination if you’re overweight:

1. Disability DiscriminationThe Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees from discrimination due to disabilities. EEOC considers morbid obesity to be a protected disability. If your life activity is essentially limited because of your weight, then you may be protected against discrimination.

Overweight people who are not “morbidly obese” but who experience weight discrimination cannot file claims under the ADA because they are not considered disabled. These unresolved issues, along with public perceptions that blame obese people for their own negative experiences, result in inconsistent court rulings and deter other overweight people from seeking legal recourse at all.

2. Sex Discrimination – Very often, women are expected to be slim but men aren’t. If your employer is holding women to different standards than men (or vice versa) then they may be guilty of sex discrimination.

3. Family and Medical Leave – If you need medical treatment because of your weight problems, you may be protected for days you miss work under the Family and Medical Leave Act. You can get protected leave for each of your doctor’s appointments, for up to a total of 12 weeks per year. You can use both intermittent and continuous FMLA leave as your doctor requires.

4. State and Local Laws – Very few, but nevertheless, some states and municipalities have limitations on appearance or weight discrimination (for example, Michigan has a state law).

However, if you are in none of the protected categories above, that all changes, and you have to fight your battles alone. Despite increased attention to the obesity epidemic, little has been done to stop the discrimination that obese people face every day. No federal laws exist to prohibit bullying and harassment against obese people. Many forms of discrimination are perfectly legal.

However, some of these “legal” kinds of discrimination may also have an illegal effect. Try to look around and see if what’s happening is really about sex, race, age, disability, pregnancy, national origin, or some other type of illegal discrimination.

Obesity is an extremely complex condition and it’s going to require many different solutions.