Category Archives:Discrimination

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LAPD Officer wins $1.2million Discrimination Lawsuit

A black Los Angeles police officer was awarded $1.2 million by a jury this week in a suit alleging racial discrimination and harassment against the city and department.
Officer Earl Wright, a 23-year veteran on the force, said he faced discrimination and harassment at the department dating back to 2009, but that the department didn’t take complaints seriously, which caused him to be hospitalized and miss seven months of work because of stress and anxiety.
Alleged instances of discrimination include those from high-ranking officers. In November 2009, Sgt. Peter Foster, a white officer, called Wright back from the field to present him with a cake for his 20-year anniversary with the department. The cake was topped with a fried chicken leg and a slice of watermelon. In September 2009, photos of Wright and his partner’s faces were superimposed on a “Sanford and Son” poster that was plastered around the department and called a family portrait.
The Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated less than four hours before announcing its verdict following Wright’s four day trial. In Wright’s case, the jury awarded $600,000 for past economic damages and $600,000 for future damages, Smith said.
The case is the latest in a series of big figure settlements and jury awards in cases brought by LAPD officers against the department. Last week, City Council approved a $1.25 million payout to a current and a former officer who said their supervisor repeatedly harassed them because they are lesbians.
If you have been the victim of workplace discrimination based on your race, sex, or gender and fearful of speaking out because of employer retaliation, Don Ho Law can fight for you!
Published by DonHo Law. Don Ho is a criminal defense and employment law attorney in Orange County, California. 

OWN Network Sued For Sex Discrimination

Carolyn Hommel, a former executive at OWN, has filed a lawsuit against Oprah Winfrey‘s network claiming she was a victim of sex discrimination.

In the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Hommel claims she was hired in 2010 as senior director of scheduling and acquisitions at the network. Hommel says her duties were reassigned to a temporary employee because of her pregnancy and pregnancy-related medical conditions.

OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network (Canada)

Hommel’s direct superior at the network had reportedly given the former senior director of scheduling and acquisition positive performance reviews prior to her pregnancy and negative and untruthful performance reports following. Hommel says her duties were gradually taken away from her and given to the temporary employee, and she was later excluded from numerous meetings when she returned to the office.

The complaint alleges that on March 19, 2012, a month after Hommel gave birth to her daughter, Hommel was told she was being laid off. Further, the complaint alleges her position was eliminated due to restructuring and she was passed over for a position as a vice president in favor of the temporary employee.

The former OWN employee claims her demotion and layoff are a direct result of her becoming pregnant and requiring a medical leave. She is seeking unspecified damages.

If you are an employee who has been a victim of discrimination in the workplace, contact Don Ho at (714) 748-7715. Don Ho is an experienced attorney who focuses on employment law matters who can discuss your options with you.

Published by Don Ho Law. Don Ho is a criminal defense and employment law attorney in Orange County, California.

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Price is Right Model Awarded $7.7 million in Termination Suit

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury has awarded $7,763,440 in damages to former The Price Is Right model Brandi Cochran. The jury awarded Cochran $776,000 in compensatory damages and tacked on $7 million in punitive damages the next day.

Brandi Cochran, 41, showcased items and presented prizes to contestants on the long-running game show from 2002 to 2009. She sued FremantleMedia North America and “The Price Is Right” productions, claiming pregnancy discrimination and wrongful termination. Cochran claimed producers rejected her when she tried to return to work in 2010 after maternity leave. A California jury awarded her the punitive damages.

Cochran, 41, was pregnant with twins after years of trying to conceive but, she said, the show’s executive producer was not pleased. She claimed that when she told the producers that she was pregnant and expecting twins in December 2008, they began treating her poorly, made disparaging remarks about her eating habits and weight gain, and removed her from the show’s website.

The former model said her co-workers called her a “wide load” and said she would break the set with her added pounds from pregnancy. When Cochran’s baby bump started to show, the producers stopped calling her completely.

Months after her maternity leave in 2010, Cochran tried to return to the show but was rejected, she said. “They ignored me, for probably about four months, trying to get a direct response about working,” she said.

After informing the judge numerous times they were deadlocked, the jurors in the case found that Cochran, a former Miss USA and Miss Teen USA, was entitled to $776,000 in compensatory damages, but rejected her claims of mental hardship. The following day the jurors came back after the second phase of the trial and awarded Cochran $7.7 million in punitive damages.

FremantleMedia is appealing the verdict. In a statement, FremantleMedia has said, “we believe the verdict in this case was the result of a flawed process in which the court, among other things, refused to allow the jury to hear and consider that 40 percent of our models have been pregnant and other important evidence to our defense.” FremantleMedia has stated that they expect to be fully vindicated.

The verdict is a rare one for a program that has seen other lawsuits. Longtime host Bob Barker, who retired in 2007, was sued by some of the show’s hostesses for sexual harassment and wrongful termination. Most of the cases involving “Barker’s Beauties”, the nickname given the gown-wearing women who presented prizes to contestants, ended with out-of-court settlements.

According to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, a woman who takes a pregnancy disability leave and returns within the four-month period is guaranteed the right to return to her same position. An employer can reinstate a woman who takes a leave to a comparable position only if her same position is no longer available, such as in a layoff due to plant closure. If that is the case, the employer should offer a position that is comparable in terms of pay, location, job content, and promotional opportunities unless the employer can prove that no comparable position exist. An employer cannot refuse to return a woman who has taken a pregnancy leave to her original position if they like her temporary replacement better or if while she was out on leave her employer identified performance deficiencies that existed prior to her leave.

Published by Don Ho Law.  Don Ho is an attorney in Orange County, California, focusing on criminal and employment law.

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Muslim Woman Sues Disney Over Discrimination

The Walt Disney Studios, the headquarters of T...

A federal discrimination suit was filed earlier this month against the Walt Disney Company by the American Civil Liberties Union claiming that a Muslim woman was harassed and unfairly removed from her job after a dispute over her head scarf. 

Imane Boudlal, 28, has filed suit in the United States District Court in Los Angeles against the Walk Disney Company. The focus of the suit involves Ms. Boudlal’s, decision to wear a scarf, or hijab, and the subsequent employment alternatives Disney offered her. After two years of working in her position, Ms. Boudlal asked permission to wear a hijab while at work. She said she offered to wear a scarf that corresponded to the colors of her uniform, or to wear a scarf featuring the Disney logo. The company, citing wardrobe policies intended to suit a theme, offered Ms. Boudlal various hats in line with the restaurant’s early 1900s theme to wear over the hijab. 

The suit also says that Ms. Boudlal was called names like “terrorist” and “camel” during her two years working at the Storytellers Cafe at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. According to the complaint, Ms. Boudlal reported the harassment in writing to four different managers and none took action.

As an alternative to being unable to wear her hijab, or to wearing Disney approved hats in place of her hijab, Ms. Boudlal was told that she could work “backstage”, out of public view. If working out of public view, Ms. Boudlal could wear the head scarf as she pleased. According to the suit, Ms. Boudlal “refused, explaining that she found these options humiliating and an infringement of her religious beliefs.” Consequently, Disney “removed her from the cafe’s schedule”. Ms. Boudlal has not been scheduled to work since August 21, 2010. 

The lawsuit seeks punitive damages and an order that states Disney may not prohibit employees from wearing hijabs. Further, it asks that Disney be ordered to deliver anti-harassment training to employees

Those who are victims of discrimination in the workplace, and employers who have claims against them, need to make sure they have the proper information and are following all laws to protect themselves from litigation.  Don Ho, LLP, handles employment law in Southern California for both employers and employees, providing a unique perspective on every type of employment law matter. 

This article will be updated as information becomes available. 

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