Tag Archives: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Hospitality Industry Management Update: “As Marijuana Becomes Legal in More States, How Should Employers Handle Positive Drug Tests?”

“…Hospitality employers also need to be aware of potential violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) associated with medical marijuana.  Employers with facilities in states that allow medical marijuana use may need to provide a reasonable accommodation under the ADA for employees with a valid doctor’s authorization. 042314_acuna_marijuana_640 For instance, the New York statute permitting medical marijuana use automatically classifies every individual who is considered a Certified Patient as disabled.  Therefore, New York employers must engage in an interactive process with the employee to determine whether they need to provide the employee with a reasonable accommodation…”

Due to the ever changing laws surrounding the legality of marijuana, many of our hospitality clients have recently asked us whether it is lawful to terminate an employee who has tested positive for marijuana.  The answer varies greatly depending on the state in which you are located.

States continue to pass legislation legalizing marijuana use for specific purposes.  On July 5, 2014, New York became the twenty-first state along with the District of Columbia to legalize marijuana use for certain medical conditions—joining Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.  Two other states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized recreational marijuana use for individuals who are 21 years old or older, and Alaska and Oregon currently have similar legislation pending.

For more: http://bit.ly/1Bek1W8

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Hospitality Industry Management Update: “Union Fight Divides Workforce at DoubleTree”

“…Organizers have been walking picket lines with workers and visiting employees at their homes,Double Tree and guests have been approached by union supporters in the lobby and have had fliers slipped under their doors. Over one weekend in early May, a push to get groups to cancel room reservations accounted for more than $30,000 in lost business, according to workers who reject calls for a union…”

An effort to organize employees at Hilton’s DoubleTree Suites has turned the hotel near the Charles River into a workplace that is sharply divided. On one side are housekeepers and other staff members fighting for more affordable health care and a collective voice. Resisting their efforts are administrative workers, restaurant servers, and others who don’t want to lose benefits offered by Hilton, which they say is a generous employer.

Both groups say they are in the majority.

For more: http://bit.ly/Sgavz6

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Hospitality Industry Legal Risks: North Carolina Restaurant Settles EEOC “Religious Discrimination” Lawsuit For $40,000; Veteran Female Worker Fired For “Refusing To Wear Pants To Work”

The EEOC’s complaint alleged that the  companies informed Silver she must wear pants to work because of their dress  code policy.  According to Equal Employment Opportunity Commissionthe EEOC,  Silver told Scottish Food Systems and Laurinburg KFC Take Home she could not  wear pants because of her religious beliefs.   However, the companies ultimately fired her for refusing to wear pants  to work.

Scottish Food Systems,  Inc. and Laurinburg KFC Take Home, Inc. will pay $40,000 and furnish other  relief to resolve a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal  Employment Opportunity Com­mission (EEOC), the agency announced today.  Scottish Food Systems and Laurinburg KFC Take  Home are based in Laurinburg, N.C.  and  jointly operate a chain of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in North  Carolina.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, Sheila  Silver converted to Pentecostalism in 2010.   As a member of the Pentecostal church, Silver believes women cannot wear  pants.  In accordance with this religious  belief, Silver has not worn pants since the fall of 2010.  Silver has worked for various Kentucky Fried  Chicken restaurants since 1992.  Scottish  Food Systems and Laurinburg KFC Take Home purchased the KFC restaurant where  Silver worked in Rocky Mount, N.C., in April 2013.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil  Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which requires employers to reasonably  accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs as long as doing so would not pose  an undue hardship.  The EEOC filed suit on  September 19, 2013 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North  Carolina (EEOC v. Scottish Food Systems,  Inc. and Laurinburg KFC Take Home, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:13-CV-00796)  after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its  conciliation process.

In  addition to monetary damages, the three-year consent decree resolving the suit  requires Scottish Food Systems and Laurinburg KFC Take Home to adopt a formal  religious accommodation policy and to conduct an annual training program on the  requirements of Title VII and its prohibition against religious discrimination.  Scottish Food Systems and Laurinburg KFC Take  Home will also post a copy of their anti-discrimination policy at all of their  facilities.

“Employers  must accommodate an employee’s sincerely held religious belief when such an  accommodation would not pose an undue hardship,” said  Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District  Office.  “This case demonstrates the  EEOC’s continued commitment to fighting religious discrimination in the  workplace.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing  federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment.  Further information about the EEOC is  available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov

For more: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/12-23-13.cfm

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Hospitality Industry Employment Risks: California Restaurant Group Settles “Religious Discrimination” Lawsuit With EEOC For $50,000; Trainer Fired For Growing Beard

“…The EEOC had charged that a restaurant formerly owned by McDonald’s in Fresno refused a request from a Muslim employee, a crew trainer, Equal Employment Opportunity Commissionto grow a beard for religious reasons which lead to his constructive discharge in September 2005…Aside from the monetary relief for the crew trainer, the two-year consent decree settling the suit provides that McDonald’s will reinforce training of its managers and staff and redistribute its existing policies related to religious discrimination and accommodation…”

McDonald’s Restaurants of California, Inc. will pay $50,000 and furnish other relief to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which requires that employers make reasonable accommodations to the sincerely held religious beliefs of employees and applicants as long as this causes no harm to the business.  The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. McDonald’s Restaurants of California, Inc., Case No. 1:13-cv-02065AWI-SAB) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“We commend McDonald’s for its commitment to training and ensuring that its staff and managers are well-versed on laws relating to religious discrimination,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office.  “We hope other employers follow McDonald’s lead in promoting training and development of extensive anti-discrimination policies.”

Melissa Barrios, director of the EEOC’s Fresno Local Office, said, “Workers have the right to request an accommodation which would allow them to work while still practicing their religious beliefs.  Employers must consider such requests and ensure that no negative actions are taken against workers who exercise this right.”

The EEOC is the federal agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at http://www.eeoc.gov.

For more: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/12-20-13a.cfm

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Hospitality Industry Employment Risks: Hawaii Restaurant Settles EEOC “Sexual Harassment And Retaliation” Lawsuit For $350,000; Young Female Workers Assigned Less Favorable Shifts

“…The federal agency filed suit in 2011, later amending its complaint to charge that at least 10 female staffers were sexually harassed by several male employees, Equal Employment Opportunity Commissionincluding managers…The agency further alleged that some employees were subjected to retaliation after complaining about the alleged harassment. The EEOC also alleged that the women were also treated less favorably than men in the workplace: they were passed over for promotions, assigned less favorable shifts and earned less than their male counterparts…”

La Rana Hawaii, LLC, doing business as Señor Frog’s, a popular Mexican-themed restaurant and bar in Honolulu, will pay $350,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of 13 female employees who were allegedly sexually harassed or retaliated against between 2007 and 2012, the federal agency announced today.

The EEOC alleged that the managers subjected employees to sexual comments, language and advances, and unwelcome physical contact. The alleged behavior violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. La Rana Hawaii, LLC dba Señor Frog’s & Altres, Inc., Case No. CV-11-00799 LEK BMK) after first attempting to resolve the matter through its conciliation process.

As part of the settlement announced today, the parties entered into a three-year consent decree requiring La Rana Hawaii, LLC to pay $350,000 to 13 female claimants. The company closed its Honolulu establishment in August 2012. Notwithstanding, if La Rana chooses to open another restaurant or chooses to reopen the Señor Frog’s in Hawaii, the consent decree requires substantial injunctive relief including the creation and distribution of an anti-harassment policy along with annual training for all restaurant employees to prevent future instances of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation. The EEOC will monitor compliance with the agreement.

Altres Inc., a Hawaii staffing company, was contracted by La Rana Hawaii to provide human resources services and oversee the company’s non-management staff during the time in question. The EEOC also named Altres in its lawsuit; Altres previously settled with the EEOC for $150,000 and injunctive relief, including EEO training for its employees.

“Our young workers are all too often the targets of the most insidious forms of sexual harassment, which can spread like wildfire at work,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which includes Hawaii in its jurisdiction. “Employers who fail to fulfill their moral and legal obligation to prevent and immediately stop the sexual abuse of its young workers will answer to the EEOC.”

Timothy Riera, local director for the EEOC’s Honolulu Local Office, added, “The EEOC takes workplace harassment against young workers very seriously. Through our Youth@Work outreach, we aim to educate America’s next generation of workers on their right to work in an environment free of harassment and discrimination and their right to report such abuses without retaliation.”

For more:  http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/11-21-13.cfm

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Hospitality Industry Employment Risks: New Mexico Hotel Settles EEOC “Religious Discrimination” Lawsuit For $100,000; Housekeeper Fired After Refusing To Remove Head Covering

 “…The EEOC lawsuit charged the employer with failing to allow Abdullah to work unless she removed her religious head covering, and fired her Equal Employment Opportunity Commissionwhen she declined to do so…the consent decree includes: an injunction prohibiting future discriminatory practices; institution of policies and procedures to address religious discrimination and retaliation; training for employees of MCM, and managers and human resource officials of both defendants on religious discrimination; and posting a notice advising employees of their rights under Title VII…”

704 HTL Operating LLC and Investment Corporation of America, doing business as MCM Elegante Hotel in Albuquerque, has agreed to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for $100,000 and other relief.

The EEOC, in a news release, said the settlement resolves an EEOC lawsuit filed in September for alleged religious discrimination against Safia Abdullah, who was hired for a housekeeping position at the hotel. The hotel owners denied the allegations in the EEOC’s lawsuit and said in court papers they settled the case to avoid the risks and expenses of continued litigation.

For more: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/11-18-13.cfm

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Hospitality Industry Employment Risks: Georgia Restaurant Sued By EEOC For “Sexual Harassment”; Female Workers Forced To Resign After Not Tolerating The Abuse By Manager

“…According to the EEOC’s suit, the employer allowed six women to be subjected to repeated acts of sexual harassment by a manager.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commissionsexual harassment occurred throughout the servers’ employment, occurring daily for some…When some of the servers rejected the sexual advances, they were assigned to less profitable sections of the restaurant or had their work schedules negatively changed, which resulted in lower earning opportunities. Although the employees complained to other management officials about the harassment, nothing was done to stop it from recurring…” 

A popular Atlanta-area restaurant/nightclub violated federal law by subjecting female servers to a pattern of sexual harassment by a manager, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed recently against Sirdah Enterprises, Inc., which owns and operates Taboo 2 Bar and Bistro in Roswell, Ga. The agency also alleged that the working conditions were so intolerable that five of the women were forced to resign when they could no longer tolerate the abuse.

It included groping their breasts and buttocks, indecent exposures, explicit sex related comments, requests for sexual favors, and promises of better working assignments and other benefits if they engaged in sexual acts.

Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The EEOC filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia (EEOC v. Sirdah Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a Taboo 2 Bar & Bistro, No. 1:13-cv-03657) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.  The federal agency seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for the servers, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such misconduct in the future.

“This case involves charges of gross sexual harassment where a manager, an individual normally entrusted with ensuring that the rights of employees are protected, took advantage of these women by abusing his position of power,” said Bernice Kimbrough, district director for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office.

Robert Dawkins, regional attorney for the Atlanta District Office, said, “Taboo 2 was aware of the sexually hostile work environment to which these young women were being subjected, but failed to take remedial measures as required under the law.  In addition to vindicating the rights of these seven women, this lawsuit is for the purpose of protecting the rights of current and future female employees.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at http://www.eeoc.gov.

For more: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/11-6-13a.cfm

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