Workplace Age Discrimination Could Become Even Harder to Prove in Court

Age discrimination remains one of the greatest vulnerabilities that American workers face. A 2018 AARP study of adults age 45 and older found that more than 60% said they had seen age discrimination in their workplace or experienced it themselves.

While most incidents go unreported, over 15,000 workers filed a claim of workplace age discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2019 alone. This makes ageism one of the most commonly reported forms of workplace discrimination, just below race (23,976 cases) and sex discrimination (23,532 cases), and above cases pertaining to national origin (7,009 cases) and religion (2,725 cases).

Along with a general reluctance to report their employers for unfair treatment, aging workers face notable obstacles when and if they do decide to move forward with legal action. Cases, for instance, rarely go to trial, and studies suggest that when they do employers are twice as likely to win, given the difficulties victims face in proving their claims.

And now, the Trump administration is trying to further curtail the protections afforded to aging workers.

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Immigrant Detainees Stage Hunger Strike Over Insufficient Precautions for COVID-19

Advocates say as many as 180 immigrants held by federal authorities in York County Prison are refusing to eat in protest of what they say are insufficient precautions around the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are chickens in a chicken coop here — we are like sitting ducks,” said a detainee identified only as Jesus who is participating in the hunger strike. Organizers with the advocacy group MILPA say they learned of the protest after receiving calls from Jesus and the family members of four other current detainees, who say three cellblocks of 60 people are participating.

The protest follows a hunger strike at a different facility for Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees in Newark, New Jersey, and a growing chorus of calls to release ICE detainees due to the heightened risk of coronavirus spread in detention centers. Some who are medically vulnerable have already been freed by ICE, or on the order of a federal judge who criticized the federal agency’s “deliberate indifference” to those in its custody.

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Second Circuit Clarifies Standard for Gender-Based Pay Disparity Claims

Equal pay for equal work is the refrain long associated with the laudable goal of ensuring that female employees’ salaries are on an equal footing with those of male employees, all else being equal. At the federal level, employees seeking to enforce their rights generally had two avenues of pursuing these claims in court: they could seek redress under the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (the Equal Pay Act) or under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (Title VII) and its framework for sex-based pay disparity claims.

For the past several years, courts in the Second Circuit applied the Equal Pay Act standard to both Equal Pay Act claims and Title VII claims. The Equal Pay Act requires a plaintiff to show they are paid less than another employee of the opposite sex that is in a job that is substantially the same and requires equal skill and responsibility under working conditions that are similar. By conflating the Equal Pay Act’s “equal pay for equal work” standard with Title VII, plaintiffs seeking to establish a gender-based pay disparity claim faced a legal standard that amounted to distinction without a difference.

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The Supreme Court Just Made It Easier to Get Away With Discrimination

The Supreme Court decided to eviscerate a key civil rights protection. It created a new and tougher standard that will make it harder for people to sue over racial discrimination in employment and other contract negotiations. The decision was not a surprise, given the current ideological make-up of the Supreme Court. What was a surprise is that the court decided unanimously to crush this civil rights protection. The four liberal justices signed on to an opinion on civil rights that was written by Neil Gorsuch.

The 9-0 ruling came down in a case called Comcast v. National Association of African American–Owned MediaAt issue is a contract dispute between cable giant Comcast and Entertainment Studios Network, which is owned by television producer and comedian Byron Allen. Allen, who is black, alleges that Comcast discriminated against him when it decided not to carry his network.

Allen sued under section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866. This Reconstruction-era law guarantees that all people have the same right to contract “as is enjoyed by white citizens.”

Read the source article at The Nation

UPS Facing Multiple Lawsuits Over Employee Wages

UPS Supply Chain Solutions employees filed a class action lawsuit claiming the company failed to pay overtime wages, failed to pay minimum wages, failed to provide required meal breaks and rest periods and other violations of the California labor law. This lawsuit is currently pending in the Riverside County Superior Court.

Under California law, an employer is required to pay its employees for all hours worked, which includes all time that a worker is under the company’s control.

UPS is also under fire for allegedly failing to compensate California warehouse workers for time spent undergoing security checks.  According to, UPS required warehouse employees to go through security checks on their way in and out of the premises, including during lunch and rest breaks. The time workers spent waiting in line, undergoing security screenings, and walking from the screening area to the time clock was not counted as hours worked and therefore not compensated by UPS. This lawsuit, originally filed in the Superior Court of the State of California, has since been removed to the Northern District of California. Case 3:19-CV-07551-RS was filed in November 2019.

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Cisco to Pay A $5M Settlement Over Job Discrimination Dispute

Cisco has agreed to pay some $2 million in “lost wages and interest” and another $2.75 million to address “pay-equity adjustments” to settle a federal job discrimination case dating back to August 2011.

The $2 million will go to “affected employees” in San Jose, Calif., according to the US Department of Labor. More than 1,500 workers were involved, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

The remaining money will be spread across “pay-equity adjustments” nationall over the next five years, the government added.

Cisco “paid women, black and Hispanic employees less than comparable male and white employees in similar positions,” the labor department said.

“This agreement ensures that employees from Cisco Systems Inc. are compensated fairly, and will prevent similar issues from happening again at any of its facilities,” said Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ Regional Director Jane Suhr, in San Francisco.

Read the source article at WRAL TechWire

Social Security Offices Closing Due to Coronavirus

The Social Security Administration has more than 1,200 offices that serve thousands of beneficiaries every day.

The Social Security Administration operates a vast network of more than 1,200 offices around the country that help thousands of Americans every day with applications for retirement, disability and Medicare benefits.

No more.

Starting Tuesday, Social Security’s field office network will be closed to the public in most situations until further notice because of the coronavirus public health crisis, administration officials said. Offices that hear disability insurance appeals also are closed.

Service will continue to be available via the agency’s toll-free line, (800) 772-1213, and its website. Payments to more than 69 million Social Security beneficiaries are not affected.

Social Security announced late on Monday afternoon that field offices would be closed, with most employees working from home. That means most routine services — helping with benefit claims, checking the status of an application or appeal or requesting a replacement Social Security card — will be handled only through the agency’s toll-free line and website.

Read the source article at The New York Times

Coronavirus Dangers in Immigration Courts Causes Outrage

President Donald Trump’s increasingly urgent campaign to attack the coronavirus outbreak is having a notably meager impact in the immigration courts, where dramatic moves could undercut his signature policy of getting tough on undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers.

As state and federal courts around the country scale back sharply due to the pandemic, most immigration courts have pressed on with only minor adjustments, prompting growing outrage from immigration judges, lawyers for immigrants facing deportation and even the attorneys who serve as prosecutors. 

Court observers said proceedings continued Tuesday with vulnerable immigrants being called in for hearings and some being funneled into crowded holding rooms. And even as places like California moved to a near-lockdown status, the immigration courts pressed on largely as usual, triggering bitter complaints and dire warnings.

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Foresight Energy is Latest U.S. Coal Miner in Bankruptcy

Foresight Energy announced Tuesday that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will hand over ownership of the company and its subsidiaries to its creditors. 

Foresight operates Mach Mine in northeast Williamson County near Corinth. It also operates the Sugar Camp mining complex in Franklin County near Macedonia. These two mines are among the most productive underground mines in the United States.

Foresight Energy also filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 to access $100 million in new financing.

The restructuring plan, which allows the company to stay in business, would cut debt by about $1 billion. This will be done by swapping $1.33 billion of debt for equity. 

According to a company statement, Robert Moore, who is also the CEO of Murray Energy, would remain the CEO of Foresight. Moore is the nephew of Robert “Bob” Murray.

Read the source article at Home – WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Lawsuits Costing Millions After Abuse of Missouri Prison Staff

When Ana Barrios was a corrections officer at a Kansas City prison, she was spit on, told to kill herself and called degrading names. 

Not by the prisoners — but by the other guards. 

Barrios was 22 when she started work as a probation and parole assistant at the Kansas City Community Release Center in September 2014. When the facility became a prison the next year, she became a guard.

After enduring months of abuse, Barrios sued the Missouri Department of Corrections. In October, a jury awarded her $200,000.

Barrios is one of dozens of corrections employees who have gone to court alleging that the department allows a culture of abhorrent behavior to fester with no accountability. As a result, Missouri taxpayers continue to shell out millions of dollars every year to resolve the lawsuits.

Read the source article at KC Breaking News, Sports & Crime