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Category Archives: Personal Injury Blog

Firefighter Claims Racial, Age Bias

A black firefighter in Houston has filed an age and race discrimination lawsuit against his department. The lawsuit also alleges that the Houston Fire Department retaliated against him for complaining about the bias.

The 69-year-old firefighter claims in his lawsuit that he was given low performance rankings in an attempt to thwart his ultimate ambition of becoming the first black Fire Chief of the Houston Fire Department.

Charles Julian has worked for the Houston fire Department since 1968, and in 1994, he became a district chief. However, since 1989, Julian has found his ambitions blocked at every level. His attempts to apply for higher-level positions have been unsuccessful.

According to his lawyers, since 1984, Julian has been unable to break the glass ceiling at his workplace. In response, he has filed a number of lawsuits against the department, and in return, the department has been retaliating against him, demoting him and keeping him away from better job opportunities.

In 1999, he sued the Houston Fire Department. In that lawsuit, he claimed that a former fire Department chief had told him that he was too old to be promoted to a higher position. In that case, a federal jury found in his favor, and awarded him $109,202. After another lawsuit that reached a settlement, Julian was finally given a promotion to assistant chief. In that case, he also received a settlement of $213,000 in front and back pay.

He filed another lawsuit in 2006 after he received what he claimed were the lowest performance ratings of his career, which he blamed on demotion as a result of his previous lawsuit. In 2008, he settled that lawsuit for about $140,000. In this latest lawsuit, he claims that the fire Department has blocked his efforts at promotions in retaliation for his earlier lawsuits.

Under California laws, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who have complained about bias. Such retaliation can include demotion, suspension, or termination of the employee. If you are being subjected to retaliation in the workplace, consult with an experienced California employment lawyer.

Mortgage Guaranty Settles Allegations of Discrimination against Women

The Department of Justice has reached a settlement with Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation, settling allegations that the company discriminated against women by violating their maternity leave rights. The lawsuit has alleged that that the company was in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

This is believed to be the first such discrimination case of its kind in the country. California employment lawyers also believe that this lawsuit is the first lawsuit involving discrimination against women and mortgage insurance filed by the Department Of Justice. The lawsuit only came to light, when a Pennsylvania woman, a new mother lodged a complaint with the Housing And Urban Development Department.

According to her lawsuit, which was filed in July 2011, Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation required that women who were on maternity leave return to work before the company could insure their mortgages. These rules would apply even to women who had a right to return to work after their maternity leave.

The government quickly took note of this, and investigations revealed that the company had violated the provisions of the Fair Housing Act. These provisions protect women against discrimination.

Government attorneys found at least 70 women who are believed to have had dealings with Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation, and had their rights compromised.

The woman who filed the complaint will now receive $42,500 in compensation for the maternity that she was forced to forfeit, when the company required the women to return to work. Additionally, the women who were informed by Mortgage Guaranty that they should return to work quickly after their maternity leave for the company to insure their mortgages, will also share in the settlement worth $511,250. These women are also eligible to share in the proceeds of a class-action lawsuit.

Nutella to Settle False Claims Lawsuit for $3 Million

The manufacturer of Nutella has agreed to pay $3 million to settle a class action lawsuit alleging deceptive advertising.  The lawsuit was filed by a San Diego mother who claimed in her lawsuit that the company had falsely advertised its chocolate spread as being healthy and nutritious.

The product in question is the popular Nutella Hazelnut Spread, which has been heavily promoted by Nutella manufacturer Ferrero as being healthy for children.  According to the woman who filed the lawsuit, a lot of busy mothers like herself were fooled by the company into believing that the spread was a healthy breakfast for children.

She filed her lawsuit when she found that the spread contained high levels of saturated fats.  According to the lawsuit, many consumers like her would not have purchased the product if they had known that the health claims that the company was making were actually false.  The lawsuit also made note of the fact that consumption of high levels of saturated fats has been linked to heart disease.  The suit also claimed that the product contains high quantities of sugar. 

The label on the Nutella bottle informs consumers that there are about 2000 calories in each 2 tablespoon serving of Nutella hazelnut spread, and that half of them come from fats.  However, California class-action lawyers often find that manufacturers hide behind these nutritional labels, well aware that many consumers may not read the information that is stuck near the bottom of the jar, or may not interpret the information correctly. 

Under the terms of the class action settlement, the company will pay $3 million to all consumers who had purchased the Nutella spread in California between August 1, 2009 and January 23, 2012.  Each person will receive $4 per jar of Nutella that was purchased during this period, with a maximum limit of $20 per person.

Lawmakers Ask EEOC to Determine Legalities of Employers Asking for Facebook Passwords

A number of recent reports of employers asking potential recruits for their Facebook passwords, or asking potential hires to log into their Facebook account, and literally peeping over their shoulders as they go through Wall posts, photos and other material, have seriously concerned California employment lawyers.  Now, lawmakers are taking these concerns seriously too.

Two lawmakers, New York Senatir Charles Schumer and Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal have asked the Department of Justice to conduct an investigation into whether the practice of asking for Facebook passwords constitutes a breach of federal laws. The senators want the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate whether this unethical practice violates the provisions of the Consumer Fraud and Abuse Act or the Stored Communications Act.

More and more employers are engaging in what is also known as ‘shoulder surfing.’ Employers may ask a candidate to log into his or her Facebook account, and scan photos, posts, comments and other material that they would normally not be able to access because of privacy controls.

Earlier this year, it was reported that the Maryland Department of Corrections had frequently employed ‘shoulder surfing’ practices to screen candidates. Now, Maryland has become the first state in the union to prohibit employers from asking for Facebook passwords from their potential employees. The American Civil Liberties Union has also come down strongly on the practice.

Employees who are required to make their personal information on Facebook available to their potential employer can be subjected to discrimination. There’s much that a potential employer can see on your Facebook Wall that can prejudice him against you. For instance, employers can discern your religious and political views through the groups that you are a member of, and these can be used to discriminate against you.


Attorneys at the Spencer Law Firm have a broad foundation in California litigation practice and we have provided zealous and aggressive representation to our valued clients for over a decade.

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