September 2010 Archives

September 30, 2010

Kentucky Court of Appeals Reviews Wage Case

Earlier this month, in the unpublished decision of Sparks v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the Court of Appeals of Kentucky, affirmed a jury verdict dismissing a former Wal-Mart employee's claims for unpaid wages.

The plaintiff, Sparks, worked as a pharmacist for Wal-Mart from June 1992 through December 2008. He was compensated based on a forty-five hour workweek, or ninety hours each two weeks. In 2006, he sued Wal-Mart alleging that they owed him nearly $30,000.00 in unpaid wages. He made additional claims for retaliation for filing a complaint with the Kentucky Department of Labor.

According to Sparks, Wal-Mart had paid him for only eighty-five hours each two weeks from November 2000 and September 2005. His manager realized the error and started paying Sparks 90 hours biweekly in 2005, but did not retroactively pay the difference in wages. Sparks filed suit for the five hours of unpaid wages during the November 2000 through September 2005 pay periods.

Sparks claimed that the common law theory of equitable estoppel prevented the megastore from now denying him the additional five hours of pay biweekly. Reviewing the elements of equitable estoppel, the court held that Sparks had not proved Wal-Mart had "knowledge, actual or constructive, of the real facts."

The court also reviewed several evidentiary rulings from the lower court and found in favor of Wal-Mart.

If you believe your employer has failed to properly pay you overtime pay or wages, you should speak to a wage and hour attorney.

September 27, 2010

Justice Department to Investigate Sexual Harassment Claims in Kentucky

The Justice Department announced that it will investigate sexual harassment claims brought by three former secretaries of the probation office. These women are represented by Miller & Falkner trial attorney, Charles Miller.

The law suit, filed in September 2009 in the U.S. District Court in New Albany, alleges that the plaintiffs' were sexually harassed by Gary Collins, a Chief Probation Officer. According to the pleadings, Collins subjected the women to inappropriate sexual comments, leered at their breasts, and sent them inappropriate emails.

Collins has previously been accused of sexual harassment. In 2002, a law suit, also filed in the U.S. District Court, alleging similar facts was settled out of court for a confidential sum.

It is significant that the Department decided to engage in its own investigation. While the Justice Department ill look into claims of employment discrimination and harassment, it will typically only conduct its own investigation when the allegations are serious.

To read more about this interesting case, see the Courier Journal who reported this Kentucky discrimination case.

September 17, 2010

Employment Lawyer Appointed To Appellate Court

Employment lawyer, Jane Branstetter Stranch, has been appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Ms. Stranch was appointed by President Obama to be a member of the Sixth Circuit in August 2009 and was affirmed by the U.S. Senate this week. The Sixth Circuit hears cases appealed from U.S. District Court in Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan and Ohio.

Stranch worked primarily at Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings law firm, which was founded by her father. She specializing in complex labor and employment litigation. The date for her swearing in ceremony has not been set.

September 5, 2010

Seventh Circuit Decides Race Discrimination Case

Indiana employment lawyers are pleased with the July 20, 2010 Seventh Circuit Decision reversed the District Court's decision in favor of a healthcare facility which was honoring the racially motivated preferences of residents.

The case, Chaney v. Plainfield Healthcare Center, reviewed the summary judgment motion granted by the trial court. According to the decision Chaney alleged that she was 1) prohibited from providing assistance to nursing home residents who requested "white-only" care, 2) subjected to comments by coworkers including the use of racial slurs and profanity, and 3) subjected to a suspicious and unexplained termination.

The defendant argued that it needed to adhere to the patients' requests to not be assisted by African-American CNAs, that catering to these requests amounted to a bona fide occupational qualification. The Seventh Circuit, however, did not agree.

Instead, the Court held that law does not support race as bona fide occupational qualification. The Court reversed, returning the case to the lower court for further proceedings.

If you have been a victim of discrimination in the work place, or subjected to discriminatory comments by your coworkers, you should contact an discrimination attorney as soon as possible to learn more about you rights.

September 2, 2010

EEOC Releases New Work Force Report

Kentucky employment lawyers are interested to read the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released its Work Force Report on July 26, 2010. This report reviews work statistics about the federal workforce.

Some of their findings included some slight changes to the work force over the last ten years. A few of these changes included:

  • The number of women in the federal work force increased from 42.3% to 44.06%

  • The number of Hispanic/Latinos in the federal work force rose from 6.81% to 7.9%

  • The number of Asian Americans in the federal work force rose from 5.22 to 5.84%

  • Also, the total number of people in the federal workforce increased by 15.09%

What is particularly striking about the report is that 16,947 complaints were filed with the EEOC in the 2009 fiscal year. Of those complaints, in only 2.98% of the cases did the EEOC investigations result in findings of discrimination. At the same time, approximately 21% of the complaints resolved in early settlements.

If you are a federal employee who feels that you have been treated unfairly, you should contact an experienced attorney to learn more about your rights.