December 8, 2009

Former City Light Employee Receives $812,250 Settlement in Discrimination Lawsuit

It’s not every day that you hear about a race discrimination and harassment case based on a hostile workplace environment. However, a recent seattletimes.nwsource.com article reported on such an incident. According to the report, the city of Seattle recently settled a discrimination lawsuit with an ex-employee of City Light for $812,250. The woman was awarded $503,000 in 2007 for race discrimination and harassment. Interestingly, the city’s appeal after the 2007 case resulted in the appeals courts upholding the harassment verdict, but dismissing the half a million dollar damage award due to the statute of limitations having already expired.

Based on the article, the jury determined that the woman had endured workplace hostility because of her race and that she was underpaid for the work she was doing. The jury verdict also found that City Light discriminated against her and another long-term employee who was awarded $947,000. At the time of the award, it was the fifth incident within ten years that City Light had either settled or had a jury rule against it in a racial-discrimination case. The four prior incidents cost the city-owned utility over $1 million.

Although the above mentioned case did not involve a personal injury accident that caused harm to a worker while on the job, the case is indicative of the many responsibilities that an employer has the duty of upholding. The discrimination case also emphasizes the importance of understanding the elements of the statue of limitations when filing a claim against another person or entity.

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July 13, 2009

Judge Rules in Favor of Dole - Several Related Cases May Be at Risk

A Los Angeles judge has dismissed two lawsuits that were filed against US Food Giant Dole by Nicaraguan banana plantation workers, according to a recent report on abcnews online. The lawsuits alleged that Dole was guilty of exposing plantation workers to harmful pesticides. Litigation was fueled by previous lawsuits that opponents of the Food Company had won in Nicaragua.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Victoria Chaney dismissed the lawsuits on the grounds of fraud and attempted extortion. She made her ruling after hearing testimony that detailed a scheme to recruit men who would claim they were rendered sterile by exposure to a pesticide in the 1970s.

The Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge sighted a litany of judgments coming from Nicaragua, from crooked judges who were ‘devouring bribes’. She was quoted as saying:

"What has occurred here is not just a fraud on the court, it is blatant extortion on the defendant…the record is so outrageous and profound."

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March 14, 2008

Woman fired for her military service files lawsuit

A Kirkland woman, Kelly Hansen, claims she lost her job as chaplain at Children’s Hospital in Seattle because of her years of service as a National Guard chaplain. She was required to drill for a weekend and take time off work.

"The first day she came back to work after her drill weekend she was called into her supervisor's office and terminated," said James Beck, her lawyer.

Hansen claims in the lawsuit she filed Thursday in Seattle Federal Court, that she was fired because Children's Hospital knew that her unit was on alert and she would be leaving for a 14-month deployment to Iraq.

According to King5.com, state and federal Worker's compensation laws require businesses to hold jobs for employees serving the Guard and Reserves, and companies that don’t can face stiff penalties.

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