In the last several weeks, our attorneys reported a large number of sex and gender discrimination lawsuits. One of these was brought by a group of former Merck and Co. female employees. Merck is a U.S. based pharmaceutical company and one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. The former employees brought a $250 million dollar lawsuit alleging that the company violated the Equal Pay Act and that the employer had a company culture in place that affected females more than it affects males. That pervasive culture promoted the notion that males were the breadwinners and women should stay home with their kids. Another of the unlawful policies prohibited current employees from communicating with law enforcement and attorneys regarding investigation and litigation involving Merck. Both the company culture and the policy are strictly against Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. (Kelli Smith et al. v. Merck & Co. Inc.)
Additionally, our Los Angeles Employment attorneys reported a race bias and discrimination lawsuit brought last week by an African American former Comcast employee. Comcast is an American multinational mass media company and is the largest broadcasting and largest cable company in the world by revenue. The former employee worked in Comcast’s customer service center who alleged the company discriminated against black male employees and allowed assaults in the workplace by his female supervisors to go unchecked. The Plaintiff, Wilber Spencer Jr. worked for Comcast for over 10 years and argued that he and other black male workers were never promoted, rarely received advances, and were always supervised by white individuals. However, those who were actually promoted were white. After he complained about race discrimination in the workplace, he started receiving bad marks in reviews concerning his attitude. In addition, even though he repeatedly complained about racial discrimination, his pleas went unanswered. Then, after his most recent complaint on March 27, 2015, he was fired for hanging up on a customer. He believes that this was done as a pretext (or a false reason meant to cover the real illegal reason). See our dedicated race discrimination page here.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) prohibit employers from discriminating because an employee belongs to a “protected class.” Under Title VII, it is unlawful for employers to discharge or discriminate against individuals in their compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Similarly, under FEHA, an employer may not because of the race or national origin of a person treat that person differently in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment. (Cal. Gov’t Code §12940(a).) One item in which the two laws are different is that Title VII applies to those who employ at least 15 individuals in a year, while FEHA applies to California employers with at least 5 employees in a year. Most recently, California passed laws expanding this reach to enable most lawsuits to be filed against smaller employers. See these blogs that cover this expansion.
If you believe that you, or another employee, suffered an employment law matter related to race or racial discrimination or retaliation in the workplace, prompt action to preserve your rights is vital since the statute of limitation is a short one year. Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free no obligation consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options.