Nashville Legal Blog

JPMorgan settles case for $24 million

JPMorgan has agreed to spend $24 million to settle a lawsuit from six black employees who alleged that there was systemic racism within the organization. Of the $24 million the company will pay, $4.5 million will go toward anti-bias training for employees in Tennessee and other states. The other $19.5 million is going to be split among 250 employees who either are or were associated with the company.

The plaintiffs said in their lawsuit that they were given less lucrative assignments and faced other employment difficulties because of the color of their skin. An attorney for the plaintiffs said that they were happy with the result and that the organization was willing to work with them to find a solution. JPMorgan's CEO has said in the past that the company would do more to find and retain black employees.

Survey seeks to determine how workers view sexual harassment

A survey from Hiscox aimed to find out more about how sexual harassment was viewed and dealt with by employees and companies alike. It found that more than 35 percent of respondents had been impacted by sexual harassment in some form. However, many cases in Tennessee and around the country were not reported. The most common reason for not reporting sexual harassment was a sense that doing so would result in a hostile workplace.

How sexual harassment is dealt with depends in part on the size of a company. Those with fewer than 200 employees were less likely to have updated their sexual harassment policies in the previous 12 months. They were also less likely to offer training to prevent harassment in the workplace. This is in spite of the fact that companies with fewer than 200 employees and those with more than 1,000 had similar numbers of harassment cases.

Age discrimination an enforcement priority

In 1967, Congress approved the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. It was intended to prevent age-related discrimination in the workplace. Workers' positions were to be based on merit and ability rather than age. This is an especially important protection for older workers in Tennessee and across the country, but courts have made it extremely difficult to apply the ADEA's protections. The EEOC has prioritized the enforcement of the act as the employment landscape changes in the post-recession era.

An interview with the EEOC's acting chair, Victoria A. Lipnic, highlighted the reasons the agency is targeting age discrimination so aggressively. Among her most important reasons was the conclusion that over the past 50 years, there has been very little progress in reversing ageist stereotypes in the workplace. Age is something that will affect everyone eventually, so it may be one of the most universal areas of discrimination against which to take action. Older workers are more likely to be seeking work in the modern economy, so the problems of age discrimination are likely to only intensify.

Protection for minors in Tennessee's labor laws

Minors who work in Tennessee are subject to child labor protections designed to keep young workers from being exploited. There are a number of exceptions to the law as well as prohibited occupations for people under the age of 18. Regulations also include various hour restrictions, especially for younger teens. For example, 14- and 15-year-olds may not work more than three hours a day or 18 hours a week when school is in session, even though they can work up to eight hours a day or 40 hours a week during school vacations.

While 16- and 17-year-olds do not have hour restrictions, they cannot have shifts during school hours or overnights between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. during the week. Parents may allow their children to work up to three nights each week but only until midnight. Home-schooled children are subject to the same restrictions, pending consent from their parents. However, these restrictions do not apply during school vacations or during the weekends.

How freelancers can prevent discrimination

Increasing numbers of people in Tennessee participate in the gig economy. While the work may be flexible, employment law offers freelancers almost no protection from discrimination and harassment. Antiquated laws currently ignore the needs of independent contractors, but freelancers can take the proactive steps of carefully vetting potential clients and using discriminatory behavior clauses in contracts.

Some quick internet searches about a company could bring up certain red flags. For example, the GlassDoor website publishes company reviews by employees. An abundance of negative reviews about racial discrimination or sexual harassment might indicate how someone at the company is likely to interact with an independent contractor.

Company is sued for gender discrimination

Workers in Tennessee who are concerned about workplace discrimination may be interested to learn that Nike is facing a lawsuit filed by four female employees. The suit is among the first filed against the athletic apparel company since multiple complaints regarding bullying and pay discrepancies were published in early 2018.

In March and April of 2018, 11 executives were let go from the company. According to one employment attorney, however, the dismissals of the executives are an insufficient response to the issue of the pervasive discrimination that takes place at Nike.

Addressing and correcting gender-bias issues in the workplace

The #MeToo movement has sparked a dialog about sexual harassment in workplaces throughout Tennessee and across the country. It's a movement that has broadened to include discussions about all forms of sexual discrimination in the workplace, including so-called "micro-inequities." These are subtle gender-based biases that are often difficult to prove. Such instances can include spotlighting achievements of male workers and downplaying similar efforts by female employees. Body language, vocal tone and gestures can also be part of less obvious forms of gender-bias.

While it is possible for perceived workplace discrimination to be unintentional, it can become a problem if it's a regular pattern that affects an employee's ability to feel comfortable doing their job. When an employee suspects subtle forms of bias, they might talk to co-workers to see if off-putting behaviors are specifically targeted more at women more than men. It's entirely possible for a boss, supervisor, manager or senior colleague to have a generally negative or condescending tone toward everyone regardless of gender, which is something that can be addressed in a different way.

Spinal cord injuries can result from major motor vehicle crashes

Traveling at high speeds in a box made of metal and glass is a risky activity. It only takes crossing paths with the wrong person for your trip to turn into a tragedy. Far too many people get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or taking drugs. Other people choose to engage with their cellphones instead of focusing on the road. Some people are just too tired to drive safely.

Unfortunately, encountering any of these people on the road could result in a crash that leaves you with major injuries. One of the most feared injuries possible in a car crash is probably a spinal cord injury. The debilitating, often lifelong consequences of a spinal cord injury can leave you with a major burden after a collision.

AARP survey says workplace age discrimination is common

According to a survey conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons, more than 90 percent of workers at least 45 years of age said they thought age discrimination was common. People in Tennessee work into their 50s and 60s to make money and lead fulfilling lives, but they sometimes encounter discrimination at the workplace based on age. More than 61 percent of the people surveyed by the AARP said they'd personally experienced or seen age discrimination occur.

The survey asked respondents to say whether they'd experienced any of six actions: hearing negative comments from a coworker about them being older, being laid off or otherwise dismissed due to age, being denied development opportunities or training because they were older, not getting a job due to age, being passed up for an opportunity due to age or hearing negative comments from a supervisor about them being older. Among respondents, 30 percent said they'd experienced at least one such action. Seventeen percent said they'd experienced two or more.

How harassment impacts health care workers

Roughly 25 percent of nurses and related professionals have experienced or seen instances of sexual harassment in the last three years. That was according to a 2018 report from Medscape. A survey of over 6,200 clinicians listed several acts that qualified as sexual harassment, including comments about a person's body or being asked out on a date repeatedly.

It also considered rewards or punishments based on a person's willingness to perform sexual favors as sexual harassment. Those who responded to the survey were most likely to say that infringing upon personal space was among the acts that they witnessed or experienced. Groping or unwanted touching was also among the common behaviors mentioned among respondents. Individuals who were victims of sexual harassment were likely to deal with emotional distress related to the incident. Emotional distress may result in a person having lower job satisfaction or a reduced ability to deliver quality care.

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