Category: Religious Discrimination

Another Celebrity Chef Cooks Up a Lawsuit

Celebrity chef David Burke, who is most famous for appearing on Iron Chef America, has been served with an employee lawsuit. Burke is not the first celebrity chef to be sued by a former employee, nor will he be the last. This suit is unique, however, since it seems Burke may have blatantly violated federal labor laws.

More often than not, when a celebrity is sued or does the suing, there are bizarre allegations that connect obscure statutes to a possible violation (see our lawsuit against Beyonce here . This suit seems pretty clear cut.

Former employee, Ibrahima Kaba from the Bronx, worked at David Burke’s “David Burke Townhouse” restaurant since June of 2012. Kaba, a Muslim, disclosed to management upon employment that he could not work Fridays because he needed to conduct his Friday prayers. Management, allegedly, said that would not be an issue.

Within weeks of employment, Kaba was scheduled to work the Fridays he had previously requested off. So, instead of trying to take the whole day off, Kaba requested to take a long break so he could attend his Friday prayers. The manager refused to allow him to leave and was terminated two months later. According to the complaint, Kaba also observed other Muslim employees being “denied the right to attend the Friday noon prayer…even when they express the need to do so.”

The suit states Burke’s businesses “subject [Muslims workers] to discrimination on the basis of their religion.” Said employees are “retaliated against” for attempting to practice. Burke’s other restaurants and ventures, including Bloomingdale’s, were also mentioned in the suit.

Source: NY Post

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Title VII and Immunizations—When is it Religious Discrimination?

A case from 2012 in Indiana prompts the question of mandatory immunizations at work, and whether the refusal to receive an immunization shot is protected as a part of a religious identity.

At Indiana University Health’s Gosehn Hospital, the hospital informed its staff in September 2012 that all staff members had to receive a flu vaccination. The hospital allowed staff to apply for an exemption if they felt it was necessary. A total of eight employees were ultimately fired for not meeting the exemption based on religion—Ethel, a 22 year veteran nurse; Joyce, who had dedicated 27 years to the hospital; and Sue, who had worked for the hospital throughout the last 40 years.

So, if you refuse an immunization due to your religion, can you get terminated? The answer is: maybe. Title VII, the federal policy regarding discrimination, has no specific law governing immunizations exemptions, so there is no explicit statement expounding on the legality of a termination stemming from an immunization refusal.

Employees can assert their right to refuse an immunization due to religion. One may ask for a reasonable accommodation, but if it creates an undue burden on the employer, they also have the potential right to refuse the accommodation and/or terminate the employee has a result.

Employees Sue the Most in…

This month, a Hiscox survey revealed the states that employees tend to sue employers the most. The reason for these states higher than normal rates is attributed to state-wide labor codes that supersede federal laws in terms of harsher penalties and repercussions.  So who, what, and where?

Coming in at #5 is the state of Georgia. Georgia’s sue rates are 18% higher than other parts of the country. Tied at #4 are Arizona and Mississippi. Both states see, on average, 19% more lawsuits by employees than the national average.

Alabama rings in at #3 with a 25% above average chance that an employee will sue the employer for violations of labor law. Illinois edges out Alabama for the #2 spot with 26% higher average.

And the state that beats them all? Well, California of course! California is #1 with businesses facing a 43% higher chanced of being sued than the national average. California has employee stricter employee protections put in place as compared to other states in the country. The Fair Employment and Housing Act protects from various discrimination risks and covers companies with five or more employees as opposed to the nation’s 15 employee minimum.

The fives lowest suing states are: Massachusetts, Michigan, Kentucky, Washington, and West Virginia.

The First Steps to File a Lawsuit

You find yourself bullied and harassed at your work place. You’re called names based on your ethnicity, or your religious beliefs and practices are brought into question, or you experience unwanted touching and sexual advances. You report these incidents to your employer. You are fired. Now what?

Many people find themselves at a loss when their livelihood is taken from them and are frequently confused as to where to turn. In these instances, one must know that time is precious. If you wish to file suit or take action for termination/firing, bullying, or harassment, the first step is to ensure your time is preserved.

For claims based on federal law that safeguards against discrimination, an employee or former employee has 180 days from the time the unlawful action took place to file with the federal entity, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). On the state level and for claims violating state law based on discrimination, a person has up to 1 year to file a claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). These time windows are called “statutes of limitations.” If your statute of limitation expires, then the claims do also.

Therefore, to ensure your precious time is in fact preserved, contact an attorney who can determine which entity needs to be involved. It’s beneficial to contact an attorney sooner rather than later as to preserve your claims.

Employment Discrimination: An Overview

With 2014 fresh and new, let’s return to the basics of a hotly discussed topic. Here you’ll find an overview of employment discrimination. If you feel this applies to you in the workplace, please contact an attorney immediately.

Employment Discrimination laws seek to prevent discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national origin, physical disability, and age by employers among other things. A growing body of law also seeks to prevent employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Discriminatory practices include bias in hiring, promotion, job assignment, termination, compensation, retaliation, and various types of harassment. The main body of employment discrimination laws consists of federal and state statutes. The United States Constitution and some state constitutions provide additional protection when the employer is a governmental body or the government has taken significant steps to foster the discriminatory practice of the employer.