In the post on Sunday 5/30/21 we saw that an ex-lobbyist sued Eli Lilly alleging sexual discrimination and harassment. The accusations were leveled against a high-ranking executive and another senior manager. Sonya Elling brought suit in federal court alleging that Leigh Ann Pusey, a SVP, repeatedly demeaned Elling and other women. The result is in the post. Pusey was one of CEO Dave Rick’s first appointments after taking that position in 2017. Elling was an in-house lobbyist since 2003; her position after promotions is noted in the post. Pusey’s background is also noted in the post. The allegations in the suit provide details on the comments made to Elling and other female employees by Pusey and another senior manager, along with the other behaviors/actions they exhibited; see the post for details. In 2018, another female lobbyist filed an internal complaint against Pusey, alleging an HWE and offensive comments by Pusey and others. In May 2018, an internal HR investigator interviewed Elling about the other person’s complaint; how that complaint played out is noted in the post. So, then what happened? Pusey allegedly excluded Elling and others who participated in the investigation from senior leader briefings. Then in 2019 Pusey hired Shawn O’Neail as an executive to supervise Elling and other lobbyists. What he allegedly did – ugh! – is detailed in the post. The suit also details O’Neail’s background, including misogynist and racist conduct at Novartis AG (a previous employer) and that he used the N-word to refer to a black executive at Pfizer. The suit makes o allegations as to why Pusey hired O’Neal and what he did to follow up on that – see the post. Elling resigned 12/1/2019.
TAKEAWAY: Ensure that everyone from the top down knows what they can and cannot say and do relative to employees – it will be very costly, monetarily and in terms of reputation, if there is an illegal action.
TAKEAWAY: We have many legal rights and obligations but would have fewer if not for those who fought and made the ultimate sacrifice.
The post on Tuesday 6/1/21 was a call out to Panera Bread and note that a Pagan wants words about diversity. Last year Panera fired Tammy McCoy, a baker who began to work as a baker for the company outside of Pittsburgh in 2019. McCoy filed suit against Panera in mid-March 2021. She said that she tried to keep private her religious beliefs. But one day when she was on break with the assistant manager and manager, the former asked McCoy’s religion. The immediate responses from the managers are noted in the post. Then they started to act as against McCoy, including cutting her hours and more as noted in the post. When McCoy asked to be transferred to a different store, did the district manager agree? No; and made it worse with a comment noted I the post. After threats continued and got violent, McCoy and her husband, also an employee, were fired. The suit remains pending. But now the Executive Director of a Pagan civil rights organization, reached out to Panera in support of McCoy; her comments are in the post.
TAKEAWAY: Sincerely held religious beliefs are entitled to legal protection whether or not the employer or its workers agree with those beliefs. This is an enforcement priority for the EEOC, so consult legal counsel if there are questions or problems.
Based on the post on Wednesday 6/2/21 we asked: What can a condo or homeowners’ association do about an owner’s smelly squalor? It depends on what is causing the odor. If, it is based on a legally protected disability, then the Association must follow the dictates of the law to deal with the problem (as somewhat detailed in the post). If there is no legal protection for the owner, then the association is potentially freer to act and need only follow its Governing Documents and applicable state law.
TAKEAWAY: Consult an experienced community association lawyer to deal with legal issues like this – that person can help get the matter resolved within legal bounds.
In the post on Thursday 6/3/21 we saw that a woman could lose her over $38,000 in HOA fees. We asked if this could this happen in PA? She and her spouse built their home many years ago. Her husband died, she filed for bankruptcy, and now she might lose her home. Why? She began to fall behind in assessment payments in 2017. She says she doesn’t owe what is claimed; how she is proceeding (at age 82!) is in the VID in the post. And to answer the question, yes, this could happen in PA given the right set of facts.
TAKEAWAY: Owners of homes in condominium or homeowner associations have an obligation to pay assessments; likewise, the associations have a duty to take collection action if assessments are not paid. A knowledgeable community association lawyer can assist relative to those obligations.
The post on Friday 6/4/21 told us that Amazon is targeted with five lawsuits from employees claiming discrimination and retaliation. The suits were filed in various places around the county. They all allege that the (former) employee faced discrimination that was racial, sexual or gender-based from white managers and that they were retaliated against when they complained. Three of the plaintiffs are current employees; 2 are former employees. All are women; other relevant demographics are listed in the post. One of the plaintiffs, Pearl Thomas, is a 64-year-old Black HR manager. Thomas makes allegations about her direct supervisor as noted in the post. Tiffany Gordwin is also black; she alleges rejection from an HR manager position and continuing action as noted in the post. The allegations by Diana Cuervo, a Latinx woman who was an area manager, and two other plaintiffs. So, what does Amazon say about all of these suits? See the post.
TAKEAWAY: No matter how big your company, you are subject to laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of any protected characteristic (now including sexual orientation and gender identity) and retaliation. Engage an employment lawyer if needed.
Finally, in the post yesterday 6/5/21, we saw that Pinnacle Logistics is to pay $45,000 to settle an EEOC sexual harassment charge. Pinnacle is located in Allentown, PA. It is a trucking and aviation services company. It was also the subject of a sexual harassment charge filed with the EEOC. The person who filed the charge alleged sex-based harassment and more – see the post. Pinnacle denied liability but agreed to settle. It will make the monetary payment and much more (including revising some of its policies) as noted in the post.
TAKEAWAY: We feel like a broken record: train your employees on what they can and cannot say and do to employees and discipline those who take illegal actions. Get legal assistance if needed.