Outback to Pay $19 Million for Sex Bias

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced that Outback Steakhouse has agreed to pay $19 million and furnish significant remedial relief to settle a major class-action lawsuit alleging sex discrimination against thousands of women at hundreds of its corporately owned restaurants nationwide.

According to the EEOC, Outback discriminated against female employees with respect to the terms and conditions of employment and denied women equal opportunities for advancement. In the lawsuit, the agency alleged that female employees hit a glass ceiling at Outback and couldn’t get promoted to higher-level profit-sharing management positions. It also alleged that the women were denied favorable job assignments, particularly in kitchen management — a requirement for consideration for top management jobs in the restaurants.

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Categories: Legal News

Women’s History Month: March 2010

February 14, 2010 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

National Women’s History Month’s roots go back to March 8, 1857, when women from New York City factories staged a protest over working conditions. International Women’s Day was first observed in 1909, but it wasn’t until 1981 that Congress established National Women’s History Week to be commemorated the second week of March. In 1987, Congress expanded the week to a month. Here are some facts from the U.S. Census Bureau about women in the workplace:

  • In 2008, the median annual earnings of women 15 or older who worked year-round, full time was $35,745, down from $36,451 in 2007 (after adjusting for inflation). Women earned 77 cents for every $1 earned by men.

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Categories: Just the Facts

Recession Hard on Black, Hispanic Job Hunters

According to a report released in November by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), African American and Hispanic workers were hit particularly hard during the first year of the current recession. The report notes that while “the overall labor market conditions deteriorated markedly in 2008 following the onset of the recession in December 2007 . . . labor market problems for blacks or African Americans and Hispanics or Latinos were especially acute.”

In 2008, the BLS reported that the unemployment rate was 10.1 percent for blacks and 7.6 percent for Hispanics. These figures were considerably higher than the unemployment rates for whites and Asians, at 5.2 percent and 4.0 percent, respectively. During the first 10 months of 2009, the unemployment rate for black male college graduates 25 and older was 8.4 percent — compared with 4.4 percent for white male college graduates.

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Categories: Feature

Diversity a Goal for New OPM Deputy Director

Boston-native Christine M. Griffin has taken over the number two spot at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). One of her top tasks will be to help OPM Director John Berry increase the diversity of the federal government, which he has called one of his top long-term goals.

Before being appointed to the position by President Barack Obama on May 12, 2009 (she was confirmed by the United States Senate on July 30 and took office on January 4, 2010), Griffin was a Commissioner of the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC). There, she helped develop and approve enforcement policies, including those authorized by law, regulation, or order.

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Categories: Agency Insight

Employer Shining Beacon During Economic Slump

For the third year, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) teamed up with Winning Workplaces to create its list of Top Small Workplaces for 2009. As the article notes, when faced with tough economic times, many employers try to cut just about everything that may be considered nonessential, including employee benefits, wellness plans, and other innovative programs. In doing so, they often shut employees completely out of the decision-making process. While the idea behind their actions is simply to stay afloat and make sure that employees at least have a job, the unintended consequence can be a negative workplace with low employee morale.

However, as the WSJ recognizes, there are still several companies committed to their employees’ well-being and development. Having happy, well-trained employees pays off now and continues paying off in the future. That’s because companies with a high rate of employee satisfaction and low turnover save money in the long run and put the company in a good position to rev back up when the economy turns around.

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Categories: Ideas for Leaders

Bahama Breeze Pays $1.26 Million for Race Claim

On December14, 2009, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a class-action settlement with national restaurant chain Bahama Breeze for $1.26 million and significant remedial relief. The case originated with 37 black workers at the company’s Beachwood, Ohio, location who claimed they were repeatedly harassed because of their race.

In the lawsuit, the EEOC charged that Bahama Breeze managers committed numerous and consistent acts of racial harassment against black employees, including frequently addressing black staff members with slurs such as “Aunt Jemima,” “home boy,” “you people,” and the “n” word. Additionally, managers allegedly imitated what they perceived to be language and mannerisms of black employees and denied them breaks while allowing breaks to Caucasian employees. Despite the employees’ complaints to management, the alleged race-based harassment continued.

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Categories: Legal News

Tap Into Generational IT Insight

M. Lee Smith Publishers’ President Dan Oswald comments on the generational divide that most companies are experiencing in relation to technology and offers five tips for how employers can harness the know-how and insight of their younger employees.

I recently handed a newspaper column written by Financial Times columnist Luke Johnson to my 18-year old son for him to read. I knew that my son would like Mr. Johnson’s message. The column topic was the “clash of generations under way at the top of so many organizations.” His premise was that we are now in the Digital Age, yet most of those in leadership positions came of age in an old technology world and, therefore, are not “digital natives.”

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Categories: Feature

“English-Only” Lessons from a Taos Motel

Employment law attorney Robert P. Tinnin, Jr. tackles the tough question of whether an employer can implement an”English-only” policy.

Q A couple moved to Taos, New Mexico, from Abilene, Texas, last summer and purchased a deteriorating old motel, hoping to rehab it as they’ve done with several other properties. According to news stories, the husband, Larry Whitten, immediately ordered workers at the motel to stop speaking Spanish and to use Anglo versions of their Spanish first names at work. Whitton’s action, as might be expected, caused an immediate uproar in some local circles, leading to statewide and national attention. What’s up with this guy? Can he get away with this?

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Categories: Q&A

EEOC Claims Continue to Rise

According to its annual report issued November 16, 2009, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 93,277 private-sector discrimination charges in fiscal year (FY) 2009, its second highest total in the past 20 years. In addition, the EEOC obtained record relief of almost $300 million for alleged discrimination victims through administrative enforcement.

Breakdown of Charges

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Categories: Agency Insight

EEOC Sues Over Use of Credit Checks, Criminal Histories

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a complaint in the U.S. district court in Maryland against Freeman Companies, a Dallas-based corporate event-planning company. The EEOC claims that Freeman’s use of credit histories and criminal background checks discriminates against black, Hispanic, and male job applicants in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Title VII and Disparate Impact

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Categories: Legal News

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