On the last day of the year, we thought it would be fun to look back throughout 2014 and reflect on the most interesting, bizarre employment new stories we've heard. While we have seen significant changes to the landscape in terms of the employment law, it has not halted a steady stream of odd lawsuits. So what's in our Top 5?
5. Tyra Banks and America's Next Top Model Sued for Cheating Real Winner– Cycle 14 of “America's Next Model” featured former contestants from previous cycles competing for a modeling contract prize. Oddly, before the finale was aired, Tyra Banks informed audiences that the finale had to be re-filmed after production wrapped since one of the final three contestants, Angelea Preston, had been disqualified.
Preston filed a lawsuit stating that she was the real winner of Cycle 14 and therefore should be entitled to the prize. She alleges that the reason she was disqualified held no merit and anything suspect was reported before the cycle's filming began. Preston was allegedly terminated from the show for her previous experience as an escort. She is demanding $3 million.
4. “My Supervisor Pushed Me Down the Stairs”-Santa Fe County Clerk employee Jayla Ortiz loved her job as a recording clerk. However, when her supervisor learned she was gay, things changed. One day, in a heated argument at the top of a staircase, Ortiz alleges that her supervisor, Esther Artino, pushed her and sent her toppling down the stairs.
Ortiz was found at the bottom of the steps pooled in her own blood. She filed a discrimination lawsuit based on sexual orientation. Ortiz is also accusing negligence since Artino purportedly walked away from Ortiz at the bottom of the stairs and left her.
We often hear about altercations in the workplace, but rarely as violent as this one.
3. How Did the NFL Get Away with Paying Their Cheerleaders Pennies?-An Oakland Raiders cheerleader was the face that launched multiple lawsuits. Lacy, a former Raiderette, sued on the behalf of cheerleaders similarly situated with the team, for minimum wage violations. The cheerleaders were being paid per game, never paid for endless hours of practices, and fined for various appearance infractions, like having the wrong color hair and wearing the wrong uniform.
One would think in such a high profile industry such as professional athletics, this practice would be caught before now. Evidently not.
Lacy's lawsuit inspired similar suits across the country. Cheerleaders from the Jets, Bengals, and Bills followed suit.
2. Taking No Shave November Too Seriously– A female storeroom employee filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the company for failing to prevent a manager from constantly and pervasively harassing her. It started off as a traditional case of sexual harassment; the manager would attempt to put his arm around the female subordinate or even try to kiss her.
After she rebuffed him several times, the manager ultimately locked them together into his office and forced a pair of tweezers in her hand. He then demanded her to pluck an ingrown hair from his chin. After that, he tried to kiss her.
The employee was eventually terminated for performance. If it wasn't for the chin hair, this might be a fairly standard case, but that fact makes it pretty bizarre.
1. The Obvious Answer to a Dispute at Work is…Poison?!– The most bizarre story of 2014 had to be the alleged poisoning of a medical worker after a workplace fight.
A medical assistant was hired by a medical staffing company at an office where said assistant and a permanent employee were not getting along. One day their disagreements escalated to a verbal altercation. After the altercation, the medical assistant poisoned her co-worker's water bottle with carbolic acid. The permanent employee sustained burns on her tongue and mouth.
The permanent employee sued both the medical assistant and the staffing agency, claiming that the agency had neglected its duties of training the latter in better conflict resolution than poison. The court found the agency not liable because the medical assistant's actions were not within a reasonable scope of the employment. The individual medical assistant, though, can be personally liable.
Those are just five stories that proved newsworthy in 2014. We all eagerly await what 2015 has in store!