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Case One: A. Ms. Riyadh is employed as an account executive with ABC Advertising ("ABC"). ABC is a national marketing and advertising firm specializing in domestic and international advertising. ABC has its corporate headquarters in this state and represents many major public and private corporations throughout the United States. Ms. Riyadh began working with ABC as a summer intern during her senior year in business school, and was hired as a full-time employee after receiving her M.B.A., with honors, from the University of Michigan in 1978. Ms. Riyadh has been employed with ABC at its office in the state capital since 1978. During her employment, she has won three national awards for her work. For several reasons, Ms. Riyadh believes ABC has illegally discriminated against her and she now wants to sue the company. She says the company's practice has been to promote employees from within. Ms. Riyadh states that despite receiving "outstanding" performance evaluation ratings each year she has worked there, she has never been promoted since she was hired and has been repeatedly passed over for any promotions. She also says that all of the male employees who were hired between 1978 and 1988 in the same classification as hers have been promoted from one to four times and earn significantly higher salaries. In addition, none of these employees has won any national awards, and a few of these individuals are marginal employees. She notes that three women have been promoted since she was hired, but points out that men greatly outnumber women in all positions at ABC. ABC responded to a preliminary inquiry by asserting that Ms. Riyadh was not promoted because she doesn't "fit the image" that is right for the higher positions. ABC claims the higher positions have high visibility, require extensive travel, and have greatly increased client contact, including presentations before corporate and professional groups. ABC argues that Ms. Riyadh is a very plain woman, that she refuses to wear make up or adornments of any kind, other than a head scarf, that she is very religious and takes a daily "prayer and meditation" break during her lunch break, and that her religious beliefs prohibit certain types of "fraternizing," such as drinking alcoholic beverages and eating certain foods. ABC officials state that while Ms. Riyadh is a good employee, they do not believe she is "qualified" to represent ABC in certain capacities. ABC argues that in the advertising field, it is essential that higher "administrative" employees project a polished appearance and engage in social and fraternal activities in order to obtain and conduct business. Ms. Riyadh states that ABC is discriminating against her. She argues that these factors are not relevant to her ability to perform in any of the higher positions, and that ABC is simply using other rationales as a ploy to justify discriminating against her. She further states that when ABC hired her, she was advised that if she did a good job, she could expect to be promoted to the position of account vice-president within two years. Ms. Riyadh seeks damages for lost wages and benefits. She also wants a court order directing ABC to promote her to a higher position. Analyze Ms. Riyadh's case. Identify all potential claims and any defenses available to ABC.
There are several federal employment discrimination laws, including the following laws:
(1) Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on color, gender, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, and sex, including sexual harassment;
(2) The Civil Rights Act of 1991 provides for monetary damages in cases where there is intentional employment discrimination;
(3) The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) helps protects employees who are 40 years of age or older;
(4) The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Rehabilitation Act disallows discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities;
(5) The Equal Pay Act addresses unequal pay related to gender;
(6) The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees time off for specific health conditions, without putting the worker's employment in jeopardy; and (7) Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) makes it illegal to discriminate based on genetic information about an applicant, employee, or former employee. ( )
In the case of the employee Ms. Riyadh, Title VII is at issue or the possibility that the company for whom Ms. Riyadh works may have discriminated against her on the basis of religion. The company cited the failure to promote Ms. Riyadh to be for the reason of her not fitting the 'image' that the company held for its higher level employees due to the manner in which Ms. Riyadh dressed since she dressed very plainly, did not wear jewelry or adornments and because she wore a head scarf and did not drink alcoholic beverages or fraternize as did other high level employees in the company. The failure of the company to promote Ms. Riyadh on this basis likely constitutes discrimination against an employee on the basis of her religion. Ms. Riyadh's manner of dress, observance of prayer, failure to drink alcohol and not wearing adornments and the wearing of a headscarf are not indications of her fitness to perform the higher-level jobs in the organization. The wearing of clothing of one's native country is an expression of their national origin, race, or religion and discrimination for any of these reasons is unlawful. The refusal to hire someone "…because customers or co-workers may be "uncomfortable" with that person's religion or national origin is just as illegal as refusing to hire that person because of religion or national origin in the first place. Similarly, an employer may not fire someone because of religion and/or national origin. This applies to other employment decisions as well, including promotion, transfers, work assignments, and wages." ( ) The only reason that the employer can lawfully prevent the wearing of this type clothing would be a showing that it would "pose an undue hardship on the business." ( ) To win such a case there must be harmed suffered in addition to the employer's discriminatory acts.
Martha has applied for a job as a stock clerk, at Good Food Supermarket. During her interview, she reveals to the interviewer that at some point in the next ten months she will need to undergo surgery to remove a tumor in one of her vertebrae, and that even if the surgery is successful, her post-operative range of movement could be severely limited. The job requires a good deal of lifting and a wide range of movement, in order to place goods on the shelves. The interviewer decides not to hire Martha because she may not be able to perform the job after the surgery. Martha files a claim against Good Food Supermarket. Does she have a valid claim? Explain your answer.
Martha did not have a valid claim, as she was not able to perform the work-related tasks associated with this specific job. While the employer has the responsibility of hiring disabled workers and making reasonable accommodations for their disability, the fact is that this employee was not actually disabled at the time she was interviewed and according to the laws on discrimination against employees with disabilities "temporary ailments are not disabilities." (NOLO Law, 2013) It is reported that only qualified workers with disabilities are protected by the ADA. A qualified worker with a disability "is someone who is capable of performing the essential duties of the job, with or without reasonable accommodation." (NOLO Law, 2013) Private employers of at least 15 employees are required to follow the ADA law.
Muhammad, an Arab-American high school student, had a job after school in a fast-food restaurant, Eddy's BBQ. A few co-workers started asking him why his "cousins" bombed the World Trade Center. Muhammed ignored their taunts. Then a manager began to add comments such as, "Hey, Muhammed, we're going to have to check you for bombs." Muhammed felt humiliated and angry. Soon after, he was terminated for accidentally throwing away a paper cup that the manager was using. Muhammed suspects that his religious and ethnic background was the reason he was fired. Muhammed has filed a claim with the EEOC. What will be the result in this case?
The first issue in this case is the teasing and taunting that was allowed to be perpetrated on Muhammed at his place of employment due to his country of origin and his religious background. The fact that Muhammed felt humiliated and angered by the taunting is enough to constitute discrimination on the basis of Muhammed's origin. The firing of Muhammed for throwing away a paper cup was an extremely harsh reaction of the manager to Muhammed's placing the paper cup in the trash. According to laws on employee discrimination, national origin discrimination is "treating an individual differently in their employment because of the country that the individual or his or her ancestors came from." (Workplace Fairness, 2013) Employee discrimination laws are also effective…[continue]
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