Although the weather may be cold, there are several hot employment issues facing employers and employees in Alabama and around the country. These include:
- FLSA/Overtime. I have previously posted about FLSA wage claims being filed in baseball, against the SF Giants and MLB itself. Now, the Oakland Raiders are being investigated by the US Department of Labor after a cheerleader filed a lawsuit against them for failure to pay minimum wages and improperly imposing fines and travel expenses on her. According to SFGate, the cheerleaders are paid $1,250 a season for 10 home games. They are also required to attend rehearsals, 10 charity events per season, and an annual swimsuit calendar photo session. They are also required to pay all costs of travel, cosmetics required by the team, and they are prohibited from discussing their pay with each other. The lawsuit claims that the cheerleaders make less than $5.00/hour. The DOL is investigating the case, and the investigation concerned “the team’s cheerleader squad.” With the number of college and professional teams in Alabama that use unpaid interns, “volunteers”, and staff who may get paid by the game or season, I would not be surprised to see similar suits being filed in Alabama in the future.
- More FLSA/Overtime issues were raised in a lawsuit filed by Carlos Herrera against Domino’s Pizza in New York. The NY Times reported that DPNY Inc., the Domino’s Franchisee, agreed to pay $1.28 million to settle claims made by 61 workers, with each individual delivery worker getting from $61,300 to $400 depending on their length of service. I regularly see lawsuits being filed in federal courts throughout Alabama making claims for wages, including overtime. These lawsuits will continue to be filed in the coming year.
- Title VII Sexual Harassment. The EEOC announced that they reached a settlement with DolgenCorp/Dollar General to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against them by the EEOC. The lawsuit alleged that a manager in an Arkansas store began sexually harassing female employees shortly after he was transferred to the store, including harassing statements and asking for sexual favors. Although reported to DG through their corporate hotline and an assistant manager, DG failed to take action to stop the conduct. DG agreed to pay $27,500 and enter into an 18 month consent decree to provide harassment training to store managers and assistant managers, and to report any sexual harassment complaint to the EEOC that may be made within the Arkansas district.
- In Ohio, JPMorgan Chase reached an agreement with the EEOC to resolve a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the EEOC in 2009 for conduct going back to 2005. The lawsuit alleged that supervisors were engaged in sexually charged behavior and made sexual comments in the workplace. CNN/Money reported that “Women bankers who did not embrace and participate in the behavior were ostracized and, among other things, deprived of lucrative sales calls.” JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay $1.45 million to be allocated between 16 women employees.
Practice pointers. I believe that 2014 will be a continuation of 2013: numerous FLSA lawsuits being filed in many sectors, including unpaid interns, the EEOC aggressively pursuing Title VII claims, and more claims being filed under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act as the working population ages. To repeat what I often say, and can’t say enough, train and document.