Illegal activities of Southern Bosses for the weeks between Friday, December 15 and Friday, January 5
South Austin Nissan, a car dealership in Austin, Texas, operated by NICPA Central Auto Group, LLC, subjected female employees to sexual harassment and retaliated against employees when they reported the harassment the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, three managers at South Austin Nissan engaged in egregious and persistent sexual harassment towards female employees. These managers regularly touched or attempted to touch female employees. They also made sexual comments about female employees, critiquing their physical appearance and referring to the employees’ personal relationships.
Managers encouraged female salespeople to “show more, sell more,” suggesting the women wear revealing clothing at work to succeed in sales opportunities. The sales managers created a culture in which discussing vulgar sexual encounters and watching sexual videos was fairly commonplace. Several female employees who suffered harassment were forced to leave their jobs because of the managers’ conduct.
Several employees, including a male manager, reported the harassers’ behavior to both the NICPA Central Auto Group’s director of human resources and chief operating officer. However, no appropriate investigation, effective corrective action, or remedial action was taken in response to the complaints. Instead, the reporting employees were transferred to other dealerships managed by NICPA Central Auto Group. One reporting manager was transferred, received a reduction in pay, and was subsequently terminated for standing up against harassment.
EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In this case, EEOC seeks back pay damages, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive remedies, including implementation of stronger oversight over investigations into sexual harassment and discrimination.
The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $26,927 in back wages and liquidated damages for 36 employees of an Alabama fast-food enterprise that allowed management at two of its Montgomery locations to deduct time worked illegally, which led to federal minimum wage and overtime violations.
The department’s Wage and Hour Division investigators found Checkerboard Montgomery LLC and Checkerboard Montgomery 2 LLC knowingly permitted managers to violate the Fair Labor Standards Act by doing the following:
Clocking out employees while they continued working.
Deducting break time from workers’ schedules whether or not they took the breaks.
Deleting entire portions of shifts from the pay records.
Altering timecards to reduce workers’ hours and not paying them overtime as required.
In 2020, the division found wage violations by Checkerboard Foods LLC at its Rally’s locations in Bessemer and Birmingham. The enterprise also operates Rally’s franchise locations in Montgomery.
In addition to the most recent recovery of back wages and damages, the division assessed the employer with $3,636 in civil money penalties for the repeated nature of its violations.
Division investigators also learned that Checkerboard Montgomery LLC and Checkerboard Montgomery 2 LLC violated federal child labor regulations by employing six 15-year-old employees to work for more than three hours per day and more than 18 hours per week when school was in session, more than eight hours per day when school was not in session, past 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day and past 7 p.m. during the rest of the year. The division assessed the employer $5,228 in civil money penalties to address the child labor violations.
A federal investigation into the fatal roof collapse at Friendswood High School in June 2023 in which four workers suffered injuries — including one who later died — found two Houston-area contractors exposed employees to safety hazards by ignoring federal requirements to complete an engineering survey before demolition began.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that supervisors of ICI Construction Inc. and Emanuel Enterprises LLC failed to complete the survey and allowed demolition to continue, even after hazards became apparent to them. In fact, they directed employees to continue to work under the structure that later collapsed on them.
OSHA issued citations to ICI Construction, the general contractor, and Emanuel Enterprises, the project’s demolition contractor, for willfully ignoring federal requirements to complete an engineering survey. In addition, the agency cited Emanuel Enterprises for three serious safety violations for its failures to protect workers from silica exposure and use respirators properly.
OSHA assessed a total of $315,643 in proposed penalties, including $175,010 for Emanuel Enterprises LLC and $140,633 for ICI Construction Inc., both set by federal statute.
The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division found that Atlanta United Interiors, a painting contractor in Georgia, misclassified 32 painters as independent contractors and paid the affected employees straight-time rates for all hours worked. By doing so, the employer denied workers their additional half-time rate for hours over 40 in a workweek, an overtime violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. $87,333 in back wages for 32 workers were recovered.
In Georgia, there are currently more than 7,000 workers owed more than $2.2 million recovered by the agency. Individuals can use the agency’s workers owed wages search tool to see if they are owed back wages collected by the agency.
The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that its Mine Safety and Health Administration completed impact inspections at 14 mines in 10 states in November 2023, issuing 184 violations and one safeguard.
The U.S. Department of Labor has reached a settlement agreement with Pepsi Guam Bottling after an inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found the company exposed employees to amputation and other serious injuries, requiring Pepsi Guam Bottling to pay $132,591 in penalties, abate the safety failures found in OSHA’s investigation and implement a comprehensive safety and health program to protect workers moving forward.
United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS), will pay $150,000 and provide other relief, including offering reinstatement to a discharged employee in Florida with diabetes, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today. According to the EEOC’s suit, the employee asked a human resources representative for the accommodation of an occasional short break to check his blood sugar and eat or drink something if necessary. After initially agreeing to the request, the HR rep later told him that UPS could not grant the accommodation, and then fired him, the EEOC said.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Inc. (CHOA), a pediatric healthcare system in Georgia, will pay $45,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC charged in its suit that a maintenance employee requested a religious exemption to CHOA’s flu vaccination requirements based on sincerely held religious beliefs, in accordance with CHOA’s procedures. CHOA granted the same employee a religious exemption in 2017 and 2018. In 2019, however, CHOA denied the employee’s request for a religious accommodation and fired him, the EEOC said, despite the employee working primarily outside and his position requiring limited interaction with the public or staff.
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