Nashville Legal Blog

Workplaces not always friendly to new parents

Tennessee residents may have heard that a senator from Illinois is going to be the first women to give birth while serving in such a role. However, she may not be able to vote while she is on maternity leave. This is because a senator is required to be present to cast a vote, and children are not allowed on the floor of the Senate.

The issues that the senator face as a new mother are those that working mothers face in a variety of industries. This is in spite of the fact that legislation such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act exist. In many cases, workplaces are designed to cater to those who are either not pregnant or who aren't a child's primary caregiver regardless of that person's gender.

TV host Cat Greenleaf cites disability discrimination in lawsuit

Tennessee viewers of "Talk Stoop With Cat Greenleaf" who are wondering about the host's dismissal from the show can get her side of the story from the lawsuit she just filed. Court filings describe her abrupt dismissal after she confided to her employers that the death of a close friend had triggered a recurrence of clinical depression. Her lawsuit names NBCUniversal, LX and the LX senior vice-president as defendants and accuses them of discriminating against her because of a mental health disability. She seeks compensatory and consequential damages in amounts to be determined at trial.

Statements from Greenleaf within the lawsuit describe changing reasons for her job termination. Initially, her employer claimed that she had been insubordinate. The employer's reasons then changed multiple times until she received a termination letter stating that she had violated her obligation to work exclusively for NBC.

Target agrees to settle discrimination lawsuit

As part of Target's hiring process, prospective employees in Tennessee could be subject to a background check. However, a legal compliant made by the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund alleged that the system was discriminatory against Latino and black workers. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Those who may have been denied jobs because of the background check process since May 11, 2006, were included in the suit.

The suit argued that workers were filtered out for crimes that had been committed several years prior to seeking employment. A proposed settlement would see the company pay $3.7 million. Target would also make an effort to hire black and Latino applicants who may have lost a job opportunity because of a failed background check. The parties in the case are now seeking preliminary approval of the settlement.

Employees and contractors don't have the same rights

Freelance or contract workers are often treated differently than employees under state and federal employment law. For instance, a Tennessee freelancer can't sue for gender discrimination or harassment. This could lead such an individual to stop pursuing their passion or otherwise slow their potential for growth in their chosen career. As the number of freelance or contract workers continues to rise, there are questions being raised about how to better protect them in the workplace.

One woman claims that she was groped while working as a member of a salsa band when she was 18. She also claims to have been harassed years later while working as a tutor. However, there was nowhere to turn as there was no employer to hold liable or employee representative to talk with.

New system designed to help those in the tech industry

A new sexual harassment reporting system from a nonprofit called Callisto may make it easier to protect tech founders from being harassed by investors. It will allow those in Tennessee and throughout the country to make allegations on an anonymous basis while posting information about potential abusers. It is expected to go live in the summer of 2018, and there is already a version aimed at helping those on college campuses report harassment and abuse.

The tech version will focus on two distinct types of sexual harassment. In addition to allowing people to report physical contact of a sexual nature, it will also allow individuals to report those who make sexual requests as well. These overtures could be made by a supervisor, industry figure or anyone else who may hold power over the victim in a professional setting. If a perpetrator is named by more than one victim, each person will be contacted by a counselor from Callisto.

Former Saints cheerleader sues team over gender discrimination

Tennessee football fans may be interested to learn that a former New Orleans Saints cheerleader is suing the team over gender discrimination. The complaint was filed with the assistance of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was a member of the cheerleading team, called the Saintsations, for two seasons. She claims she was fired for allegedly being at the same party as an active Saints football player and for posting a modest photo of herself on a private Instagram account, activities which are forbidden in the Saintsations employee handbook. However, the complaint argues that Saints players are not held to the same standards, and the team places restrictions on cheerleading team members solely because of their gender.

A car crash could leave you unable to work for some time

Most people take certain steps when operating motor vehicles to reduce their risk of getting into collisions. A crash between two vehicles can be completely unpredictable, resulting in major property damage, catastrophic injuries and potentially even death. Avoiding these incidents is always the best option. Unfortunately, you can't control what other people do when they're driving.

Despite the ready availability of statistics about the dangers and laws with serious consequences, many people still decide to drive after drinking, taking prescription medication or using street drugs. Other people choose to indulge in distractions while behind the wheel, texting, eating or otherwise focusing on anything other than the road. Those decisions could leave them in perilous situations if they cause crashes on the road.

Workplace discrimination victims often settle and stay silent

People in Tennessee who suffer discrimination or sexual harassment at work face many obstacles when trying to obtain justice for the wrongs done to them. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, out of 54,810 cases between January 2009 and July 2017, 42,825 settled out of court. The details of these settlements are private, and settlements like these often require affected employees to remain silent or face financial consequences.

Nondisclosure agreements within these settlements legally demand silence from the accusers. A person who spoke to the media anonymously said that her former employer would bankrupt her with a lawsuit if she discussed the subject. She accepted the agreement because she was about to lose her home and needed what money she could get.

Your employer may face consequences for misclassifying you

As a worker in Tennessee, you may face employee misclassification across many industries. Especially here in Nashville, where many small and mid-sized businesses rely on the constant influx of entertainers and others who are hoping to stake out their piece of Music City, many employers offer workers pitifully little in entry level jobs. They operate under the implication that if a worker does not care to deal with the terms of employment, then he or she can move along and be replaced with someone else who has rent to pay.

In many industries, workers are unfairly classified as independent contractors outside of the guidelines established by the government. This is usually to allow employers to avoid paying overtime pay or steer around paying a certain amount of taxes on a given worker.

Discrimination hits more women in male-dominated jobs

Despite the gains women have made in labor force participation over the past several decades, female employees in male-dominated workplaces in Tennessee and across the country continue to report higher levels of on-the-job discrimination. A survey by Pew Research Center showed that women in workplaces with an unbalanced number of male and female employees reported very different experiences.

Some aspects of the survey show that many jobs continue to be largely gender segregated as 48 percent of women work in majority-female workplaces and 44 percent of men work in majority-male workplaces. Female workers in male-dominated jobs were more likely to report workplace discrimination. For example, women reported a more difficult time achieving promotions and problems being treated fairly with personnel matters. Around half of the females in majority-male workplaces said that sexual harassment is a problem on the job, 17 percent more than those who work in majority-female jobs.

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