McCormick & Schmick’s Settles Discrimination Lawsuit for $1.3 Million

McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants Inc. and McCormick and Schmick Restaurant Corporation will pay $1.3 million and provide significant equitable relief to settle a pattern-or-practice race discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency has announced.

The EEOC filed the lawsuit in 2008, charging that McCormick & Schmick’s engaged in a pattern or practice of race discrimination against African-American job applicants by refusing to hire them for front-of-the-house positions at its two Baltimore locations, McCormick & Schmick’s and M&S Grill, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The EEOC further alleged that black front-of-house workers hired at the two Baltimore restaurants were denied equal work assignments because of their race. In addition, the EEOC charged that McCormick & Schmick’s advertising for job opportunities on its website had previously contained visual depictions of employees that expressed a preference for non-black workers to the ordinary reader.

The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland after first attempting to reach a voluntary prelitigation settlement through its conciliation process. The lawsuit was settled by the parties prior to any adjudication by the federal court with the assistance of U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan K. Gauvey, who served as the mediator.

To stay in complete accord with the nation’s equal employment laws, get a copy of Personnel Concepts’ easy-to-use EEO Compliance Program.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Alabama Partners with DOL to Fight Worker Misclassification

Officials of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) and the Alabama Department of Labor today signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to protect the rights of employees by preventing their being misclassified as something other than employees, such as independent contractors. The MOU represents a new effort on the part of the agencies to work together to protect the rights of employees and level the playing field for responsible employers by reducing the practice of misclassification.

The Alabama Department of Labor is the latest state agency to partner with the U.S. Labor Department.

In Fiscal Year 2013, WHD investigations resulted in more than $83,051,159 in back wages for more than 108,050 workers in industries such as janitorial, food, construction, day care, hospitality and garment. WHD regularly finds large concentrations of misclassified workers in low-wage industries.

“Misclassification deprives workers of rightfully-earned wages and undercuts law-abiding businesses,” said David Weil, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division. “This memorandum of understanding sends a clear message that we are standing together with the state of Alabama to protect workers and responsible employers and ensure everyone has the opportunity to succeed.”

To understand the issue better, please procure a copy of our Worker Misclassification Prevention Kit.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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7-11 Operators Busted in Largest ICE Forfeiture Case Ever

Five franchisees and operators of 7-Eleven, Inc. (7-Eleven) stores located throughout Long Island and Virginia entered guilty pleas Monday at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York. The defendants pled guilty to committing wire fraud and concealing and harboring illegal aliens employed at 7-eleven stores. The guilty pleas stem from an extensive investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

When sentenced, Farrukh Baig, 58, of Head of Harbor, New York and Malik Yousaf, 52, of South Setauket, New York face up to 20 years’ imprisonment, and Bushra Baig, 50, of Head of Harbor, New York, Shahnawaz Baig, 63, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Zahid Baig, 53, of Chesapeake, Virginia, face up to 10 years’ imprisonment. The defendants used identities stolen from U.S. citizens, including the deceased and children to conceal their scheme and harbored illegal alien workers at houses own by the defendants.

“These defendants knowingly hired illegal aliens to feed their greed, stole the identities of unsuspecting U.S. citizens, and swindled more than 2.6 million dollars in wages from their enslaved workers,” said James T. Hayes Jr. special agent-in-charge of HSI New York. As a result of this investigation, HSI and its law enforcement partners have recorded the largest worksite enforcement forfeiture in the United States. This case serves notice to employers – that they will be severely punished if they seek to profit on the back of an illegal workforce.”

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NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Labor Groups Worried Over Possible Delay in Home Care Worker Rule

More than 40 labor and advocacy groups have sent a joint letter to Labor Secretary Tom Perez to voice their concerns that the Department of Labor (DOL) might delay the rollout of its home care workers rule. The proposed rule would extend minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers.

“The basic rights of two million home care workers — predominantly women and disproportionately women of color — once again hang in the balance, as the administration appears at risk of faltering in the face of opposition,” the letter states.

Part of the reason for the rumored delay is that state Medicaid departments would be on the hook for paying many of these workers, and already the National Association of Medicaid Directors has pressed for a year-and-a-half delay. There is also continuing opposition from Congressional Republicans, with a pivotal national election on the horizon.

To fully understand the complexities of the FLSA and how they impact your business, please procure a copy of our FLSA Compliance Program.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Health Care Subsidy, Residency Deadline Looms Today

Today is the final deadline (following an original Sept. 5 deadline) for income and citizenship verification for hundreds of thousands of people who signed up for insurance on HealthCare.gov, but whose income statements didn’t jibe with IRS records or who failed to provide proper residency/citizenship verification.

The Obama administration says about 300,000 people are affected by the income requirement and another 115,000 by the residency requirement.

Those who understated their income and received subsidies might lose all or part of their subsidies, or worse, have to repay some or all of the funds dispersed to help pay their insurance premiums.

“Generally, individuals who enroll through the marketplace and receive advance premium tax credits will file federal income-tax returns and, at tax time, advance payments of the premium tax credit will be reconciled,” according to a statement from the Treasury Department quoted in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Those who can’t verify their citizenship status stand to lose their policies.

For the full story on how the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) affects your business, no matter how large or small, please obtain a copy of our comprehensive and easy-to-follow Affordable Care Act Compliance Kit.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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USCIS Publishes Form I-9 Webinar on Demand

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has produced a “Form I-9 Webinar on Demand.”

You can watch any of its 14 sections individually or the whole video in one 22-minute segment.

For more details on complying with all forms of employment eligibility verification, please get a copy of Personnel Concepts’ I-9 Compliance Kit.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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EEOC Files First Two Transgender Discrimination Lawsuits

Lakeland Eye Clinic, a Lakeland, Fla.-based organization of health care professionals, discriminated based on sex in violation of federal law by firing an employee because she is transgender, because she was transitioning from male to female, and/or because she did not conform to the employer’s gender-based expectations, preferences, or stereotypes, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed Thursday.

This is one of the first two lawsuits ever filed by the agency alleging sex discrimination against transgender individuals.  The other case, EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. was filed simultaneously by the EEOC’s Indianapolis District Office.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit against Lakeland Eye Clinic, the defendant’s employee had performed her duties satisfactorily throughout her employment.  However, after she began to present as a woman and informed the clinic she was transgender, Lakeland fired her.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination, including that based on gender stereotyping.  The EEOC filed suit against Lakeland Eye Clinic in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division (Case No. 8:14-cv-2421-T35 AEP) after first trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  The suit seeks both monetary and injunctive relief.

The lawsuits announced yesterday are part of the EEOC’s ongoing efforts to implement its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).  The commission adopted this SEP in December of 2012.  The SEP includes “coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals under Title VII’s sex discrimination provisions, as they may apply” as a top commission enforcement priority.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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HHS Reconsiders Obamacare Enrollment Goal for Second Year

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathew Burwell told the Los Angeles Times this week that her agency is reconsidering its 13-million policyholder goal for enrollment in the second year of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

In the first year, after drop-outs the enrollment stands at 7.3 million, meaning that almost 6 million more would have to enroll in the second year, along with the present policyholders continuing their coverage, to reach 13 million.

Ms. Burwell told the newspaper that federal officials are using analytics and consulting with insurance industry officials and market analysts to determine a possible new enrollment goal. She gave no indication of when the new goal would be announced.

Open enrollment commences Nov. 15.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Number of Insurers Offering Federal Obamacare Policies Jumps 25 Percent

The number of health insurance companies offering policies on HealthCare.gov beginning Nov. 15 — the start of the next open enrollment period — will jump to 249 from the 191 that participated during the first enrollment period. And that’s after subtracting nine companies that are opting out.

In announcing the uptick, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathew Burwell said her first priority is “improving access and affordability through the marketplace. In order to make sure that Americans continue to access affordable choices, we have to get HealthCare.gov right.”

Burwell was referring to the many technical glitches that hampered the launch of HealthCare.gov, the federal marketplace for the 36 states that chose not to set up their own health insurance exchanges.

For the full story on how the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) affects your business, no matter how large or small, get a copy of our comprehensive and easy-to-follow Affordable Care Act Compliance Kit.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Supreme Court Turns 225 Today

The Supreme Court came into being 225 years ago today when President George Washington signed the Judiciary Act of 1789.

The act gave the court six justices, and over the years the number has changed to where it stands today at nine justices. The act also established the system of lower courts and the post of attorney general.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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