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Indianapolis Employment Law Blog

Settlement reached in sex discrimination case against Uber

Sex discrimination continues to be an issue in Indiana workplaces and in workplaces across the nation. For employees and prospective employees who believe they were confronted with legal violations or complained to management and nothing was done to stop the behavior, it can be useful to consider their case in the context of prominent lawsuits and settlements. One that was recently settled involved the rideshare company Uber.

The Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had filed sex discrimination charges against Uber in 2017. The company will pay $4.4 million to settle it. The investigation began amid allegations that the company, under its former CEO Travis Kalanick, allowed harassment and discrimination to happen unchecked. The company is said to have retaliated and harassed members who lodged complaints about the treatment.

Gaming company settles sex discrimination case

Many gamers in Indiana enjoy playing the famous titles produced by Riot Games, but the "League of Legends" manufacturer has been hit by allegations of workplace discrimination. In a settlement with previous and current women employees at the company, the gaming firm will pay at least $10 million to settle claims of sexual harassment and gender discrimination. The compensation will be directed to around 1,000 women employed by the company between 2014 and 2019. The amount each woman receives will be based on the length of time that they spent at Riot. The two women who brought the class-action suit forward will receive $10,000 each.

According to court documents, about one-third of the settlement will go to cover lawyers' fees and other expenses associated with the case while $6.2 million will be distributed among workers. While temporary contractors will receive at least $500 and full-time employees will get at least $2,500, the documents indicate that most women who meet the criteria as members of the class will receive around $5,000 or more. The lawsuit was filed in 2018 after journalists reported on an atmosphere inside the company that was conducive to sexual harassment and employment discrimination against female staff, who were less likely to be promoted or excluded from assignments due to their gender.

3 Forms of subtle workplace harassment

Harassment describes offensive or emotionally distressing behavior that an employer might exhibit or direct towards you. Harassment can happen to anyone, but it isn’t always obvious. While some forms of harassment involve blatant comments, gestures or inappropriate conduct, other times, your boss might display harassment in more subtle ways.

 

Why saying 'OK boomer' at work could be age discrimination

Indiana residents may have heard that some Generation Zers and millennials are using the term "OK boomer" to dismiss certain retrograde opinions of baby boomers. The baby boomer generation includes Americans between the ages of 55 and 73. The term got its start online, but it's now migrating to real life. It was even used by a lawmaker in New Zealand to put down an older legislator when discussing climate change.

While some may feel like the use of this term is innocent, it may actually be evidence of discrimination, especially in a person's place of employment. The problem has to do with the fact that the insult is age-related. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act guards workers who are age 40 and older by prohibiting discrimination and harassment based on age.

Survey shows age discrimination is still common

A recent survey indicates that millennials are more likely than older generations to report seeing age discrimination in the workplace. While age discrimination is prohibited in Indiana and across the country by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, millennials are not yet old enough to benefit from it. The ADEA protects people who are 40 and older from discrimination based on age.

Age discrimination includes any kind of prejudice against a person based on their age. In the survey, which was conducted by the online company review website Glassdoor, people were asked if they had experienced or witnessed ageism in the workplace. Of those who responded, 52% of the people in the 18 to 34 age bracket said they'd seen age discrimination at work. That same percentage of millennials said they'd experienced or witnessed discrimination at work based on gender. Only 30% of older workers complained about gender discrimination.

Supreme Court to hear age discrimination-related case

Indiana is not one of the states under the jurisdiction of two appeals courts that ruled that age bias can play a part up to a point in employment decisions for federal employees, but an upcoming Supreme Court decision will have a nationwide impact. According to the 9th Circuit and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 only applies for federal employees if age bias is demonstrated to be the reason for not hiring someone, firing him or her or another adverse action as opposed to it being a factor.

However, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the intent of the ADEA was for age bias to not be a factor at all. The Supreme Court will make a definitive ruling about what kind of protection federal employees have in a case involving five Florida pharmacists older than 50 who claimed they were shut out of a higher-paying position with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Discrimination based on sex stereotyping

Many people in today's society have grown up and entered the workforce with laws in place that were supposed to protect people from discrimination and biased decisions related to certain protected classes, like a person's race or religious beliefs. Sex is another factor that is supposed to be protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that went into effect in 1964. Despite this law, too many residents in Indiana and around the nation have continued to experience discriminatory behaviors in the workplace.

Some of the people who may be hurt by discrimination at work are transgender, gay or lesbian employees. There has been an ongoing debate for some time as to whether or not the 1964 law provides protections for these people. Some put forward the notion that Title VII's verbiage that refers to discrimination because of a person's sex extends coverage only to people who are male or female as per their birth certificates.

Identifying pregnancy discrimination in a job interview

Having a reliable salary while you’re pregnant can put your financial worries at ease, but it’s okay to pursue something new. Unfortunately, some interviewers may not welcome your pregnancy, which can lead to uncomfortable interview questions and might affect your chances of getting the job.

 

Age discrimination from an emotional angle

We have written extensively about many of the problems that come with discrimination, from financial hardships due to losing a job or being demoted to career problems. However, the emotional impact of workplace discrimination cannot be overstated, and this is especially true when it comes to discrimination based upon one's age. Far too many people have been treated unfairly solely because of their age, even though their ability to perform their job duties may surpass the performance of younger workers. Hopelessness, depression, anxiety and even anger are not uncommon for those who have suffered as a result of age discrimination, and these emotions can be debilitating.

There are many reasons why companies discriminate against workers based upon their age. Maybe they want to maintain a certain image in the workplace, or they are worried that older workers may carry a higher risk of being involved in a work-related accident or think that older workers are losing their ability to work as well (even though such fears may be completely unwarranted). It can be hard for older workers to find new jobs because of their age, which can add to the emotional strain one may experience after losing their job.

Examining if requirements to conform amount to discrimination

While there are different definitions of professionalism depending on who you ask, which industry is being considered and the environment of the workplace, there are general standards across the board that many business professionals see as crucial. While developing guidelines for acceptable behavior and appearance is important for many businesses in Indiana, they must be careful to ensure that these policies do not inhibit the right of employees to be themselves. 

One question that has some people reconsidering what is and is not acceptable is whether or not banning certain hairstyles from the workplace is, in fact, discriminating against certain races. Traditionally, African-American women have proudly shared some unique hairstyles that are true to their roots and their culture. However, more women feel pressure to conform to standards set by their employer and they end up straightening or taming their hair every day so as not to appear unprofessional or eccentric. 

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