Tag Archives: employee

EEOC: Landmark sex discrimination lawsuit settled

A landmark lawsuit alleging sex discrimination based on sexual orientation has been settled for more than $200,000, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced this week.

The EEOC said in a statement that Pallet Companies, doing business as IFCO Systems, will pay just over $182,000 to Yolanda Boone, who alleged she was fired after complaining that her supervisor made comments regarding her sexual orientation and appearance.

The supervisor made comments including, “I want to turn you back into a woman” and “You would look good in a dress.”

The EEOC said in its lawsuit filed earlier this year in Baltimore that Boone’s supervisor made comments including “I want to turn you back into a woman” and “You would look good in a dress.”

The EEOC says IFCO Systems, which supplies and recycles wood pallets, will also donate $20,000 to a foundation set up by the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group. The EEOC says IFCO Systems, which has its North America headquarters in Tampa, Florida, has agreed to hire someone to develop a training program on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workplace issues.

In a court document explaining the settlement, IFCO Systems denies that it discriminated against Boone but agrees to the settlement terms. In a statement released through a lawyer, the company noted it did not admit to any discrimination, harassment or retaliation. The statement says that the company’s core values and corporate code of conduct have “long recognized the value of preventing sexual orientation discrimination and the benefit of ensuring diversity in the workplace.”

EEOC General Counsel David Lopez said in a statement that the settlement was the first resolution of a lawsuit challenging discrimination based on sexual orientation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The EEOC’s lawsuit says IFCO Systems hired Boone as a forklift operator in 2013 and fired her in 2014.

Got digital spare change? Starbucks to allow digital tipping with app

Starbucks will soon let customers leave tips with its mobile payment app, which raises the question – how often do people tip their baristas?

The coffee chain says the mobile tipping option, which it announced more than a year ago, will be available on its updated app for iPhones starting March 19. The rollout comes as the company’s app has surged in popularity, with roughly one out of every 10 purchases now made with a mobile device.

After paying with the app, Starbucks says customers will be able to leave a tip of 50 cents, $1 or $2 anytime within two hours of the transaction. The tipping option will only be available at the 7,000 of the roughly 11,000 Starbucks locations in the U.S. that are owned by the company.

The move puts a spotlight on what can be a sensitive topic for customers, workers and even Starbucks, which has faced lawsuits over how it divvies up the contents of tip jars among workers. Some customers are happy to tip for friendly service, knowing that baristas don’t earn that much. Others say that they already fork over enough money and shouldn’t be made to feel like they should throw money into a tip jar as well.

Zee Lemke, who has worked as a Starbucks barista in Wisconsin for more than three years, said most customers nevertheless leave a tip of some sort. She said tips generally add between $1.50 and $2 to her hourly pay of $9.05. But she noted that there’s no rule on how much baristas can expect to earn from tips.

“It varies a lot from store to store, even in the same city,” Lemke said. At the drive-thru location where she works, for instance, she said tips go down when it’s cold out and people are less likely to reach out and put money in the tip box that hangs off a ledge.

Lemke, 30, said mobile tipping has the potential to boost the amount she earns. Still, she doesn’t like the idea of employers relying on tips to compensate workers.

“It’s a way of claiming workers make more than you’re paying them,” she said.

Starbucks, meanwhile, has been pushing to get people to sign up for its mobile app and rewards program, which helps boost the number of times people are likely to visit its stores. The Seattle-based company says the addition of the mobile tipping option is a response to demand from customers, many of who no longer carry around much cash.

“We asked our customers what they thought would be easiest and best,” Adam Brotman, chief digital officer for Starbucks, said in a phone interview. There are no plans to bring the mobile tipping option to stores licensed to other operators, however.

Exactly how Starbucks divides up the tip jars varies. Shannon Liss Riordan, an attorney who represented baristas in lawsuits saying shift supervisors shouldn’t share in tips, said the cash is typically distributed on a weekly basis.

“They keep it in a safe and dole it out to employees … based on the number of hours worked,” she said.

As for the tips earned through mobile payments, Starbucks said they’ll be paid out to workers in cash in line with however they receive their regular tips.

U.S. prisons ordered to appoint LGBT employee reps

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has ordered every federal prison to appoint an LGBT representative to its long-standing the affirmative employment program.

The bureau employs about 40,000 people nationwide and, until the order, LGBT staff did not have designated representatives in the program.

The order also requires that more than 120 prisons hold at least one event a year to educate and inform staff about LGBT diversity and also designate an LGBT program manager to monitor equal opportunity programs.

The announcement came a year after Brian Winfield of the LGBT group Equality Florida met with employees at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in the state. EF said the meeting, held to commemorate Pride, was the first ever LGBT staff event in a federal prison.

“I am so proud to have worked with this group of employees whose efforts impacted national policy,” said Winfield. “It is only because they believed that LGBT individuals and issues needed more visibility, and because it was the right thing to do, that employees at federal prisons now have a place at the table within the Bureau of Prisons.”

EF executive director Nadine Smith will participate in another Pride-related event at Coleman on June 28.

The employment reforms follow a memo from bureau director Charles E. Samuels Jr., who wrote, “I am personally committed to ensuring that we provide an environment where diversity is valued, understood and embraced at all Bureau of Prison locations.… Every BOP institution and office should provide training and foster an atmosphere that provides access to all Special Emphasis Program areas.”

The memo listed various program areas that, for the first time, included a “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Program.” 

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