Golf club sued again for age discrimination; Walmart fighting $125M award; Board authority in a condo/HOA; fired for being a millennial; and more in Our Social Media posts This Week, June 5-11, 2022.

Below is a review of the posts (on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) from the past week. You can check out the full posts by clicking on the links.

former anchor adds age discrimination claim to pending suit

In the post on Sunday 6/5/2022 we learned that a former anchor adds age discrimination claim to suit against station and Scripps. Jane Monreal, a former Fox anchor who had a federal suit pending, added a claim for age discrimination to the race discrimination and retaliation counts already filed. Monreal, an Asian woman, had been a weekday evening anchor and investigative reporter for almost 4 years. The defendants in the suit are noted in the post. Monreal alleged that the station discriminated against her and sabotaged her career by terminating her contract after she complained about race discrimination at the station. The complaint also alleges that the discrimination started after  it hired VP Evan Pappas in 2021- and after something else involving Monreal as noted in the post. The basis of the age discri-mination count is in the post – and involves the former chief meteorologist, another meteorologist, and another anchor (the races and ages of whom are noted in the post). Trial in this case has tentatively been scheduled for December 2023.

TAKEAWAY: Discrimination will usually come out on the facts – so only take action against employees that is supported by the law.

15 older workers allege age discrimination against Innisbrook golf resort – not its first brush with the law by far.

The post on Monday 6/6/2022 told us 15 older workers allege age discrimination against Innisbrook golf resort. The discharged employees say they were let go due to their ages. One, Mike Markonios, worked there for 45 years before he was fired at age 62. Some were in their 70s and over half had been there for a long time – see the breakdown in the post. In their complaint the 15 plaintiffs say that they were furloughed with other workers in march 2020 when the pandemic hit. Ok. but then the club started to recall workers. How they did that is part of the allegations – and in the post. And what did the club’s managing director say? See the post. Note that this is not the resort’s first brush with anti-discrimination laws – it was sued on an almost identical basis by 4 people in 2009. That case settled. And between that case and this one, there were 2 suits for alleged violations of the ADA and another for wage theft. All of those cases also settled. And what are the plaintiffs seeking in this case? See the post.

TAKEAWAY: An employment decision made for the valid, legal reasons may still have an illegal disparate impact on a protected class – check with your employment lawyer before taking adverse action.

walmart seeks new trial over firing of worker with down syndrome awarded $125M

The post on Tuesday 6/7/2022 told us that Walmart seeks new trial over firing of worker with Down Syndrome awarded $125M. That is not a typo. Marlo Spaeth worked at Walmart for almost 16 years before being fired in 2015. At a trial in July 2021 a jury awarded her $150,000 in compensatory damages and $150 million in punitive damages. That is a message! But in April Walmart filed something alleging that the EEOC, which represented Spaeth in the wrongful termination case, did not show that Walmart action was “with malice or with reckless indifference to her federally protected rights.”. And what does Walmart say is the next step? See the post. The trial court judge had to lower the jury’s punitive damages award to $300,000, the maximum allowed under applicable law. Prior to her discharge, Spaeth had worked from noon – 4pm for 15 years, but then Walmart computerized its scheduling system. The effect that had on her hours, and the accommodation she requested but was denied, is in the post. As a result, Spaeth missed shifts or had to leave early, so Walmart ended up firing her. Stay tuned.

TAKEAWAY: Failure to accommodate here cost Walmart $450,000; could your business sustain a judgment like that? To avoid it, meet your obligations under the ADA (and consult an employment lawyer to make sure you do).

must owners approve new flooring in association’s clubhouse?

The post on Wednesday 6/8/2022 asked: Must owners approve new flooring in association’s clubhouse? And do you know what the answer would be in your HOA or condo association? Association Boards have certain authority that stems from applicable law or the Governing Documents (Declaration/Covenants, Bylaws, and Rules & Regulations). One example is in the post. Anything outside the given authority requires owner approval in a set percentage – which again is by law or the Governing Documents. If the Board acts without authority, the directors individually might be liable for the damage (meaning they might be on the hook to repay the money).  

TAKEAWAY: owners and board members must know what authority the Board does or does not have and ensure that any such authority is not exceeded. Consultation with a community association lawyer is recommended.

woman accused of stealing from homeowners association

The post on Thursday 6/9/2022 was about a woman accused of stealing from PCB homeowners association. Yes, this is yet another example of why to have checks and balances in your HOA or condo association. 42-year old Lucinda Carey was charged with an on-going scheme to defraud. Why? From 2016 – 2019, she was the HOA manager for Sand Castle West Townhouses and Condos. She controlled the money. How she carried out her scheme is in the post. The total she allegedly took is just under $35,000.

TAKEAWAY: Could your association stand to lose that amount? Or more? Make sure there are checks and balances for all financial transactions and that your management agent is bonded.

accountant suing insurance firm after boss sacked him because he was a “demanding millenial”

The post on Friday 6/10/2022 was about an accountant suing insurance firm after boss sacked him because he was a ‘demanding’ millennial. Hint: there is more to it – read the post.) Jay Patel is 26; he sued for age and disability discrimination after he was fired and told that he was ‘too demanding like his generation of millennials.” And what else did Lucy Raymond-Williams, the boss say? See the post. Patel, who is dyslexic, had overcome many barriers to get to where he was. And the timing of the discharge was odd. A month before, the company had been looking for a fully-accredited accountant. But Ms. Raymond-Williams, who has been in business for 42 years, felt it important to hire Patel, who was only partially accredited.  – her reasons are in the post. And what glowing words did she use when she hired him? See the post. Two days after he began work, the pan-demic lockdown started and Patel had to work from home. When he asked questions of HR, he did not get a response. And when it took him longer to get things done, what did his colleagues say? See the post. The judge dismissed the age claim but did rule in Patel’s favor on the disability claim.

TAKEAWAY: have a valid legal reason to take adverse action against an employee – or your decision could be costly in the end. Consult with an employment lawyer to make sure your action will be legal.

eeoc sues eden foods for sexual harassment – you must read what the ceo said!

Finally, in the post yesterday 6/11/2022 we learned that the EEOC sues Eden Foods for sexual harassment. Yes, you must read what the CEO said! Eden Foods is an organic foods company with HQ in Michigan. It claims it is the premier natural foods company in the Americas. And the EEOC claims in a recently-filed suit that Eden violated Title VII by subjecting female employees to repeated sexual harassment. The EEOC alleges that Eden’s owner and president touched multiple female employees inappropriately. What the EEOC found in its investigation of the owner’s actions is noted in the post. More? Yep, The EEOC also found, and alleged, that the owner made lewd comments and referred to women in crude sexual terms. And what did he say when HR confronted him with complaints? See the post. His behavior continued even after that. What the EEOC seeks in the suit is also in the post.

TAKEAWAY:  Nobody is above the law – and your illegal actions will be discovered and action taken to right the wrong you caused. Stay legal from the start – get assistance from an employment lawyer.

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