This week we observed additional interesting cases of gender and disability discrimination. One case was settled by the troubled restaurant chain Chipotle and the other by a hospital chain. These cases are a constant reminder that discrimination and retaliation are persistent events occurring in our society and that our courts are well-positioned to stem them out.
In the first case, a federal jury ordered Chipotle to pay over $600,000 to three former female managers who alleged that they were discriminated against due to their gender. Their main claim was that their male supervisors favored male managers over female ones, and used as pretext (or false excuse/reason) to firing them due to low restaurant rating and employee turnover. Interestingly, the three women managers also received $85,000 in punitive damages – which are usually reserved for egregious and exemplary scenarios. Although Chipotle argued that the firings were appropriate resulting from low performance and staffing inefficiencies, the jurors believed the plaintiffs’ evidence that the male managers who had similar performance issues to theirs were not fired. (Rogers et al., v. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., case number 1:13-cv-00146.) See the following for similar gender discrimination related blogs.
In the second case, a hospital chain was sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for discriminating against a former employee by not accommodating her narcolepsy diagnosis and ultimately firing her instead. The narcolepsy disorder is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and treated as such by the courts. Therefore, the hospital chain was required to accommodate the disability when the employee requested a similar job where her incessant daytime sleepiness would not affect her tasks as much (while at the same time not being an unduly burdensome option for the hospital chain). The lawsuit sought lost income damages as well as requiring the hospital chain to come into compliance with the ADA. We will report on how the case unfolds.
If you witnessed any potentially discriminatory activity at your work and/or retaliation (against anyone) for race, ethnic, gender, nationality, disability, etc. or for complaining about such conduct, immediate action is crucial. Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options.