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The EEOC Is Dead Serious About Stamping Out Sexual Harassment Indicates Chicago Employment Lawyer

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is making great inroads in stamping out sexual harassment in workplaces.

“Sexual harassment is never acceptable in any form in the workplace. Anyone that feels they have been the victim of such inappropriate behavior needs to contact a highly trained Chicago employee litigation attorney to get to the bottom of the situation,” said Timothy J. Coffey, a Chicago employment lawyer with, and owner of, The Coffey Law Office, P.C.

While individual cases dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace seem to be more prevalent, they are also the focus of a drive by the EEOC to stamp it out. In fact, one of their latest cases deals with two Florida-based companies who were caught on the wrong side of the laws relating to sexual workplace harassment.

The case is interesting in that it highlights what the EEOC is attempting to achieve for workers across the nation. It is cases like this that are used as examples in court should a lawyer in another jurisdiction have the need to try a similar case. It also demonstrates that legally speaking, sexual workplace harassment is not to be tolerated in any form and there are consequences for crossing over the line.

The case on point here was filed against two Florida companies – Cobra Pavers & Engineering, Inc. and Cobra Construction. Apparently, Cobra managers made it a habit to harass female office workers in such as manner as to create a sexually hostile work environment. They told jokes, made denigrating remarks about women, bandied inappropriate sexual remarks about on a daily basis and took great delight in telling stories about sexual adventures and exploits. The sexual harassment was not just verbal; it included very unwelcome sexual touching.

The EEOC filed a lawsuit and won; a situation that will see Cobra pay $125,000 to settle the lawsuit. In addition, they have also agreed to revise both company’s sexual harassment policies, offer training to workers and management, post a notice about the case and the settlement and report any future discrimination complaints to the EEOC.

“If this can happen in Florida, it can happen in Chicago,” said Coffey, “which is why employment lawyers stay up-to-date on the latest cases in this area. It’s highly sensitive and in many cases, workers in that type of a situation have no place to turn to for help. That is my job, to help people deal with situations like this.”

Timothy J. Coffey is a Chicago employment lawyer with, and owner of, The Coffey Law Office, P.C., a Chicago employment litigation firm. To learn more, visit http://www.employmentlawcounsel.com

This entry was posted on Monday, February 28th, 2011 at 6:59 pm and is filed under News and Press
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Be Honest with Employment Law Counsel about the Nature of Workplace Harassment Says Chicago Employment Lawyer

Lack of honesty when discussing your case with counsel may result in unexpected results.

“You need to be cautious about filing a workplace sexual harassment lawsuit, as this kind of a suit may go both ways,” said Timothy Coffey, a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace. “Let me make my point by using a recent case as an example.”

The case happened in Iowa when Jane Doe got a job at a local store sorting nuts and bolts. She worked in the plant four years and came to the conclusion that she was the focal point of sexual harassment in her workplace. Various co-workers were apparently involved, but there was one worker who not only insulted Doe, but her husband as well.

Deciding that she had had enough of what was going on at work, she filed a sexual harassment lawsuit and alleged that the co-worker she was complaining about would make sure he was always close to her so that he had to brush up against her privates and vice versa. Offensive off-color jokes were the order of the day.

The company took the initiative to conduct its own investigation into this matter and did indeed come to the conclusion that there was a hostile work environment and that most of the allegations that Doe filed could be confirmed. “However, the investigation also revealed that the sexual harassment between the two co-workers was mutual and in direct violation of company policy. Both workers were suspended for five days and the male worker was transferred,” Coffey said.

At trial, the Eighth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals said that an internal investigation would many times turn up conflicting evidence that necessitates someone making a judgment about credibility. The company, in this instance, had to choose among various bits of information to arrive at a good faith conclusion. Accordingly, Doe was suspended for her misconduct and not because she complained. The court concluded the company’s response had been appropriate.

“As you can see, there is a very important distinction to be made in this case and that is the female worker was suspended for her conduct in violation of company policy, not because she filed a sexual harassment complaint. For those in a similar situation, it is vital to be completely honest with your employment counsel, or the results in court may not be what you expect them to be,” Coffey said.

Timothy J. Coffey is a Chicago employment lawyer with, and owner of, The Coffey Law Office, P.C., a Chicago employment litigation firm. To learn more, visit http://www.employmentlawcounsel.com

This entry was posted on Monday, February 21st, 2011 at 6:58 pm and is filed under News and Press
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Bad Credit History is a New Form of Discrimination

A company is not allowed to refuse to hire Latinos or blacks because of a criminal record or bad credit.

In a recent move to even greater equity in the workplace, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is warning companies that they may not use credit history information as criteria for hiring or firing. This comes about as a result of the EEOC suing Kaplan Higher Education Corp. for doing precisely that – using credit history information that had a major “disparate impact on black job applicants.”

Another of the EEOCs lawsuits is against Freeman Cos., sued for using criminal records and credit checks to screen applicants for their national events and exhibition marketing company. The EEOC is bound and determined to erase racism and “colorism” from the workplace. And if the statistics are any indication, they have their work cut out for them, as the number of workplace discrimination suits shot up to 99,922 in 2010.

These particular lawsuits are the tip of the iceberg in an initiative to dissolve what is referred to as arbitrary barriers for minorities to find work. Is this controversial? Yes, because the lack definition of what has an adverse effect on blacks and other minorities has always been a hot button and the focal point of disputes. It is one facet of discrimination law that troubles many Chicago employment lawyers and the courts.

The EEOC indicates that things such as background checks may wrongly exclude a large majority of minority job applicants. On the other side of the fence, many employment lawyers feel that if the criteria for hiring is not racially motivated and it is used for everyone who applies for a job, then it is not racially discriminatory. Put another way, it is not anyone else’s business (i.e. the government) to try and second-guess hiring practices unless the job applicants are being treated differently because of their race.

Of interest is that the Supreme Court has not viewed the “disparate impact” with any degree of favor over the years. In fact, two years ago, they ruled that the City of New Haven had discriminated against white firefighters who had high scores when it chucked out a promotion test because it had an adverse impact on black firefighters. Unfortunately, the court did not see fit at the time to clarify the issue any further.

Such hiring practices are not inherently illegal even if they do happen to have a negative impact on minorities. But, having said that, the employer must be able to demonstrate that the hiring criteria is necessary for the job being applied for in the first place; something that is not always easy to do.

If you happen to be facing a situation that you feel is adversely affecting your ability to get a job, then you need to speak to a highly qualified Chicago employment lawyer. You need to find out your rights, how the law as it exists applies to your case and what your options are in dealing with your situation.

Timothy Coffey is a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace. To learn more or to contact a Chicago employment attorney, visit Employmentlawcounsel.com.

This entry was posted on Monday, February 21st, 2011 at 5:02 pm and is filed under Discrimination
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Religious Discrimination Becoming a Potential Landmine

Reverse discrimination is becoming a potential landmine of legal issues. Laws to protect the rights of minorities may result in discrimination against others.

In a rather unusual case reported in the media, a relationship counselor was dismissed when he said he would not provide sex therapy for a homosexual couple. The counselor felt that the Bible’s point of view about homosexuality made it impossible for him to give the two advice. His co-workers deemed that unacceptable and he was fired.

The man took his case to court and stated he was a victim of religious discrimination and had been fired for refusing to act against his beliefs. His claim was not successful and the courts referred to it as irrational and capricious. Pundits watching this case feel that situations like this have the potential to create an imbalance in laws set up to protect the rights of minorities with the end result that those with religious beliefs are discriminated against.

Some regard this ruling as a bellwether signaling the death of religious literacy, because instead of protecting minorities from genuine discrimination, the courts may have created an imbalance in favor of minorities. In this particular case, many feel that the courts are not particularly cognizant of how vital and important religious teachings and convictions are to some individuals, despite the common mores of the rest of society.

Where will this rather new development lead? It is an interesting question and one whose answers likely lies in what society versus the courts feel is relevant and represents reality. The reality of today is that most people accept the fact that gay couples are a part of society. For those that do not accept this precept, their journey is a different one with no clear destination in mind. Reverse discrimination is an issue just beginning to poke its head up in various court cases. How the courts deal with it will be another question.

If you feel you have been a victim of religious discrimination in a similar matter or another form, do not hesitate to contact an experienced Chicago employment lawyer. Discrimination is a very difficult and diverse area of the law and you need to know if your particular situation may be handled in court or through negotiations. Without the assistance of a skilled Chicago employment lawyer, cases like this are difficult to resolve.

Timothy Coffey is a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace. To learn more or to contact a Chicago employment attorney, visit Employmentlawcounsel.com.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 15th, 2011 at 5:03 pm and is filed under Discrimination
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