Six former temp workers for the Chicago office of a nationwide staffing agency recently filed an employment discrimination lawsuit alleging the defendant routinely passed over African American workers in favor of Hispanic workers. The suit, filed in a Chicago federal District Court, alleges many of the same labor law violations as another recent suit against another large staffing agency in Illinois.
In their claim, the plaintiffs make several shocking allegations about the defendant’s business practices, going as far as to assign code words to black and Latino workers to signal the kinds of laborers the companies wanted. The suit named several other area businesses as defendants for their role in the alleged discrimination as it was at these parties’ behest the behavior became part of the staffing agency’s practice.
According to the lawsuit, the staffing company would go into Latino neighborhoods to find prospective workers and bus them to job sites but did nothing similar in African American neighborhoods. The plaintiffs claim this practice is a prime example of the overt racism some companies demonstrate to discriminate against workers of color.
Thousands could join racial discrimination lawsuit
While the suit is still in its early stages, the plaintiffs hope the court certifies the claim as a class action so that similarly affected workers could also recover for their damages. If so, potentially thousands of African American workers employed by the staffing agency could join the claim and recover for their damages.
The suit seeks back pay for jobs lost, attorneys’ fees to cover the cost of litigation, and other damages the court may seem fit to award. Additionally, the plaintiffs hope the federal court imposes an injunction on the defendant to terminate the company’s discriminatory business practices so that all workers get a fair shake moving forward.
Under state and federal labor laws, employers cannot discriminate against anyone on the basis of their race, religion, or country of origin. Violators can be subject to civil penalties, including paying restitution to affected workers.
Chicago employment discrimination lawyers
If you believe you were passed over for a job, promotion, or otherwise subjected to racial discrimination at your place of employment, contact our office to discuss your case. Our dedicated team of Chicago employment discrimination lawyers have years of experience bringing claims under state and federal employment laws and can help you get justice.
In what is already shaping up to be a big year for Illinois workers rights, 2017 will bring expanded workplace privacy protections to keep employers from accessing sensitive information about their workers. On January 1, 2017, the Illinois Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act (IRPWA) goes into effect to affirm these new protections and make personal online accounts off limits from companies.
The IRPWA will make it illegal for employers to:
Ask for an employee or applicant’s username or password to personal online accounts
Require the employee or applicant to access a personal online account in the presence of the employer
Ask the employee or applicant to grant access to social media accounts by joining groups or accepting friend requests by the employer
Retaliate or otherwise discipline workers for refusing to comply with granting access to their employers
Passing individuals over for employment for not granting access to personal online accounts
Employers who violate the IRPWA are subject to increased liability under the upcoming changes to the law. Specifically, employees can sue their company or prospective employer for emotional distress if they were retaliated against for refusing to comply with demands for personal online accounts.
IRPWA clarifies rules, gives employers guidance on compliance with employee privacy
While previous incarnations of the law gave employees limited protections against employers accessing social media accounts like Facebook, the law now defines personal online accounts as any online account primarily used for personal purposes. Furthermore, the new retaliation clauses give the IRPWA the teeth needed to ensure compliance and afford disenfranchised employees the ability to recover compensation.
The IRPWA does, however, give employees the ability to request access to personal online accounts to comply with state and federal laws and even look into allegations of employee misconduct. Additionally, companies are within their rights to create and establish policies to prevent employees from using social media on their workplace computers or otherwise use social media while on company property.
Chicago employment lawyers
If you have questions about changes to the Illinois Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced Chicago employment lawyers. Whether you are a business owner with questions about compliance or an employee that may have been the victim of retaliation under the law, our employment attorneys can help you make sense of your case.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. settled an employment discrimination case with a former store clerk for $75,000 over allegations the company failed to accommodate a protected class. The plaintiff, a worker in the Hodgkins, Illinois store, battled cancer and needed simple, modest accommodations to allow her to perform her job but the defendant subsequently rescinded compliance.
To perform her job effectively, the plaintiff merely needed a stool at her work station and to work on a modified schedule to cope with her health condition. Wal-Mart made the accommodations for a while but the situation eventually became quite difficult for the plaintiff when the defendant removed the chair, telling the employee she needed to haul a chair from the store’s furniture department herself at the start and end of each shift.
While lugging a chair across the sales floor may seem like a minor and clumsy inconvenience, the act took its toll on the plaintiff due to her weakened state from surviving her fight with cancer, an accomplishment which should be celebrated and not punished. Furthermore, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for their employees, something Wal-Mart demonstrated it could easily do but eventually backtracked.
Even worse, the plaintiff claimed her coworkers subjected her to relentless name calling, using words like “cripple” and “chemo brain.” To curb future bad acts by the employees Wal-Mart employs and supervises at the Hodgkins location, the federal judge overseeing the case imposed an injunction requiring two years of employee retraining and oversight.
Often times, employees are not properly educated by their employers about federal discrimination laws and innocent victims pay the price for the employer’s inability to properly train and supervise other workers.
Chicago employment discrimination lawyers
If you believe you were discriminated against at work, contact our office to speak to one of our dedicated Chicago employment discrimination lawyers about your case. Our office has years of experience ensuring workers are protected under state and federal labor laws and can determine if you have grounds to file a suit.
Goldman & Ehrlich is located in Chicago, IL and serves clients in and around Chicago, Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County, Will County, Kane County, and McHenry County.
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