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  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 10:27 am on May 1, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: #NLRA, , #NonUnion,   

    Wrongful termination as a violation of the NLRA for Non-Union Workers 

    Guest Blog Post by Houston Employment Attorney, Edwin Villa.

    In the world of employment law, plaintiffs bringing suit against their employers for discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, and wrongful termination are commonplace.  The overwhelming majority of these types of cases are brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and fall under the jurisdiction of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission,EEOC.  However, plaintiffs also have the ability to bring certain types of cases against their employers under the National Labor Relations Act, NLRA, which is under the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board, NLRB.  In many cases, an employer discriminating against an employee can be in violation of both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the NLRA.

    The NLRB is an independent federal agency enforcing the National Labor Relations Act, which Congress enacted in 1935.  The NLRA was created to protect employees by guaranteeing the right of most private sector employees to organize, to engage in group efforts to improve their wages and working conditions, to determine whether to have unions as their bargaining representative, to engage in collective bargaining, and to refrain from any of these activities.  However, what is not common knowledge is that the NLRB protects non-union workers in the same manner as it does union workers.  Furthermore, when an employer violates the NLRA by terminating an employee for actions protected and ensured by the NLRA, an employee can then bring suit against the employer by filing a NLRB charge.

    Specifically, claims of wrongful termination can violate the NLRA if an employee is terminated for what the NLRB deems protected concerted activity. Examples of this type of protected activity include employees’ right to band together with coworkers to improve their lives at work, acting  with coworkers to address work-related issues such as wages and benefits or other working conditions, circulating a petition asking for better hours, participating in a concerted refusal to work in unsafe conditions, and joining with coworkers to talk directly to their employer, to a government agency, or to the media about problems in the workplace. All of these activities are protected by the NLRA and enforced by the NLRB, and employers cannot discharge, discipline, or threaten employees for, or coercively question employees about, this “protected concerted” activity.

    At Coane and Associates, PLLC, we are currently representing multiple clients whose employers allegedly violated both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the NLRA by first discriminating against them in some way, and subsequently retaliating against them for complaints of discrimination by terminating them for engaging in activities that are protected by the NLRA.  For example, we have both an EEOC and NLRB charge pending against a Houston company for maybe first violating Title VII by engaging in national origin discrimination against our client, and then violating the NLRA by terminating our client for discussing a disciplinary write up with a co-worker, an action that is protected under the NLRA.  This action by the employer is a wrongful termination because an employee cannot be terminated for engaging in activities that are protected by the NLRA, even if those activities go against an employer’s policies.  Many employees do not realize that they are protected by the NLRA because they mistakenly believe its for union members only.

    EdwinVilla

     

    The author: Edwin Villa is a Houston employment lawyer representing both workers and employers in workplace disputes. He  may be reached at edwin.villa@coane.com or at 713.850.0066. The website is http://www.coane.com.

     

     
  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 11:38 am on April 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , #Zoom   

    Coronavirus: Employment Laws and Psychiatry 

    Here is a Zoom video conversation I had this week with Houston psychiatrist, Dr. Daniela White. This Houston wrongful termination lawyer and Miami wrongful termination lawyer discussed some of the new employment laws relating to Coronavirus, as well as psychiatric issues she was seeing with patients. For a bit of insight on the laws and some good ideas about dealing with stress caused by isolation and quarantine, please enjoy our short video discussion.

     

    For further information, I can be reached at bruce.coane@gmail.com or 713.850.0066, or 305.538.6800. The website is http://www.coane.com. Dr. White can be reached at 713.426.3100.

     
  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 10:45 am on February 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: #metoo, , #timesup   

    Aon Risk Services Under Federal Investigation: #MeToo Allegations 

    Aon Risk Services Southwest, a division of Aon plc,  a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, is currently under federal investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and is facing a formal complaint filed by the  National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

    The allegations before the NLRB are for allegedly  engaging in unfair labor practices, namely for firing  our client in retaliation for engaging in protected concerted activities with other employees for the purposes of mutual aid and protection, by discussing sexual harassment, work environment harassment and sex discrimination in the office with other employees and by complaining about that conduct to Aon. She alleges in her EEOC charge that she was fired as a result of her sex harassment, hostile work environment and sex discrimination complaints to Human Resources at Aon.

    Our client, a former employee of Aon’s Houston office, has retained our Houston employment law firm to represent her in these proceedings. After being sexually harassed by a representative of a multi-million-dollar client of Aon,  our client filed a formal complaint with Aon’s HR department. She alleged that the company representative  said that he would not give her their business unless she had sex with him.

    Aon proceeded to conduct a formal investigation. During the investigation, our client also raised concerns and complained about the “frat house” culture at Aon’s Houston office.  In particular, our client alleges that in her repeated conversations with Managing Director, Tracey Erwin  and Managing Director  Eli Sakellakis she informed her direct management  about the hostile work environment at Aon, and no actions were ever taken by management to correct the violations.

    Our client states that during the investigation, she discussed with Aon’s HR department numerous occasions where co-worker Jimmy Winters behaved inappropriately with both male and female co-workers, but this behavior was dismissed according to our client. The Houston office for Aon Global Energy (Aon plc) where our client worked, is under the direction of CEO, Bruce Jefferis.

    While it is alleged that Aon’s own HR department eventually concluded that our client  was indeed sexually harassed by an Aon client, the investigation aimed at their own work environment concluded much differently.  In fact, before any conclusions were formally made, Aon allegedly retaliated against our client by isolating her, attempting to negatively characterize her work product, and quickly and abruptly firing her, for an alleged breach of Aon’s Code of Business Conduct, according to her EEOC charge.

    Considering the recent #MeToo and #TimesUp movement and its uncovering of sexual discrimination and inequality against women in all aspects of business, it is no surprise that a global corporation like Aon has found itself on the receiving end of a formal NLRB complaint and EEOC charge. A formal hearing at the NLRB is scheduled before a judge on March 25, and the EEOC is currently investigating the EEOC charge.

    For further information, Bruce Coane, a Houston Employment Lawyer and Miami Employment Lawyer, may be contacted at 713.850.0066 or at bruce.coane@gmail.com

     
  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 3:49 pm on February 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: #HR, , #Illinois, #Shooting,   

    Illinois Worker Goes “Postal”: 5 Killed 

    Last week, an Illinois factory worker showed up to work with a gun, when he thought he was going to be terminated.

    According to news reports, the worker, Gary Martin, brought the gun into a meeting where he suspected he was going to be terminated. As is typical of such terminations, the Human resources manager was present, together with the plant manager, a supervisor and an HR intern. Many of my clients have been terminated in similar meetings.

    Mr. Martin was a 15-year employee of the company, Henry Pratt Co., in Aurora, Illinois.  I have had many clients who have been long-term employees, and who were fired. The termination happens in meetings just like the one in Aurora. Clients of this Houston employment lawyer and Miami employment lawyer have had jobs at a company for 20, 30 and 40 years when they are suddenly terminated for “performance” issues, or often, when they get a new supervisor.

    I have often wondered how HR or upper-management lets this happen, that is, the termination of a long-term employee who has done a great job, but may have had some incident at work or a new supervisor or some other relatively minor issue compared to their storied career. With all the HR seminars that go on across the country, you’d figure they might discuss the possibility of  having an ombudsman to advocate for these long term workers. After all, the knowledge that has been accumulated and the long term stellar record of work, are compelling reasons to want to keep such employees.

    Of course, shooting and killing the HR manager and plant manager can never be justified. Unfortunately, this has happened many times before, especially within the U.S. Postal Service, thus, the phrase, “going postal.”  I wonder if HR professionals will start to have armed security present in their termination meetings. I’ve certainly had cases where my clients have been escorted off the premises by armed security at their company (always very embarrassing to the employee).

    Surely, HR professionals will be reevaluating the termination process in light of last week’s incident, and perhaps coming up with ways to save the jobs of experienced, long-term employees, rather than firing them in that dreaded termination meeting. Or, perhaps, they will be discussing safer ways to do such terminations where they are not forced to risk their lives.

    Bruce Coane is a Houston employment lawyer and Miami employment lawyer representing workers, nationwide, in cases of wrongful termination. He may be reached at 713.850.0066 or 305.538.6800, and via email at bruce.coane@gmail.com.

     

     
  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 5:22 pm on October 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Federal Judge Orders University of St. Thomas to Turn Over Documents in Discrimination Case 

    In an Order released this week, a federal judge in Houston ordered the University of St. Thomas (Houston), to turn over documents related to our client’s employment discrimination case.

    Our law firm, specializing in employment law and wrongful termination cases, sued the University of St. Thomas for failing to renew our client’s teaching contract. Our client taught in the College of Nursing and had very good reviews. She complained about reverse race discrimination (she is white), and then one month later, the university says it made the decision to not renew her contract. Our client argues that the non-renewal is not a coincidence but is retaliation for complaining.

    In a hearing held this week, a federal judge ordered the university to turn over many documents, including over a year’s worth of emails sent by Poldi Tschirch (Nursing School Dean), Angelina Chambers (who our client alleges discriminated against her) and Lucindra Campbell-Law. The judge also ordered the university to turn over all documents about the discrimination investigation that they conducted, as well as all documents about our client’s placement on a performance improvement plan.

    No trial date has been set yet, but the judge has asked the parties to report back next month.

    For further information, this Houston employment lawyer and Miami employment lawyer may be reached at 713.850.0066 or 305.538.6800, and at bruce.coane@gmail.com.

     
  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 5:18 pm on October 22, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , #UnpaidOvertime, #WageViolations,   

    Palm Beach OBGYN clinic and doctors sued for alleged wage violations and discrimination 

    Palm Beach Obstetrics & Gynecology, P.A. and Dr. Samuel Lederman, Dr. Gloria Hakkarainen, Dr. Sylvia Siegfried, Dr. Joy Cavalaris, Dr. Lori Sevald and Dr. Marcela Lazo have been sued in U.S. District Court for overtime wages and for race and national origin discrimination by a former Billing Manager who worked for them for over ten years.

    Our employment law firm, Coane and Associates, filed the lawsuit in the West Palm Beach Division of the U.S. District Court. The case alleges that our client has unpaid overtime of over $70,000 which the defendants have refused to pay. Additionally, our client claims that the office staff was mostly white, Hispanics who wanted her terminated, as one of the only black employees in the office.

    Our client was terminated and then she alleges that Nelda Rodriguez, a Hispanic woman replaced her as Billing Manager. Our client seeks reinstatement, back pay and overtime pay in the lawsuit. A jury trial in 2019 is expected.

    For further information, contact employment law attorney Bruce Coane at bruce.coane@gmail.com or 305.538.6800.

     

     
  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 5:19 pm on October 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: #ADA, #EmploymentRights, #Redtide,   

    Red Tide and your job near The Beach 

    With red tide invading all parts of Florida, I have been getting inquiries from individuals who work on or near the beach.

    My Miami Beach office, itself, is actually located just two blocks from the beach. The questions I have been fielding deal with the rights of workers when being exposed to dangerous red tide and avoiding wrongful termination. The red tide in Florida has been killing thousands of fish over the past weeks, and the question is how does it affect humans.

    Published reports (and my own past experience being exposed in Galveston, Texas), indicate that it causes itchy and red eyes, as well as a feeling of tightness in the chest. Breathing issues have also been reported.

    Some callers have told me they work at hotels or restaurants on the beach or near the beach, and they are already getting symptoms from the red tide and don’t want to go to work. In one case, the boss was threatening termination if the food server in Palm Beach County did not show up for work.

    Here’s my advice. If you are a worker suffering symptoms of red tide, or afraid of getting symptoms, then get a note from your doctor ORDERING you to be off from work until the beaches reopen or the symptoms or risk subsides. There is no full-fledged way to guarantee saving your job, but if you have a diagnosis and a doctor’s note ORDERING time off from work, an employer will certainly think twice about firing you.

    If a person gets fired when off due to a diagnosis and doctor’s orders, they may have a case under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Of course, there are limitations on legal rights and that is why it is important to know the law before asserting any possible legal rights.

    The author, employment lawyer Bruce Coane practices wrongful termination and employment law throughout the United States and has offices in Florida and Texas. He may be reached at bruce.coane@gmail.com or at 713.850.0066 or at 305.538.6800.

     
  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 4:59 pm on February 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    Judge Releases Orders in Sex Discrimination Lawsuit against Dignity Health 

    Our law firm has been representing a former employee of Dignity Health in a sex discrimination case in U.S.District Court in Phoenix, Arizona.

    The case has been going on for quite some time with a likely trial date for this year. In this case, our client is a male who worked in a 5-person lab at Dignity Health in Phoenix. Our client alleges, and the evidence has shown, that his boss was sleeping with a female co-worker, and then keeping her as a lab employee as he fabricated reasons for letting other male lab employees go. Our client was terminated, in favor of the hospital keeping our client’s boss’s girlfriend, even though our client alleges that he and the other men in the lab were significantly more qualified than their boss’s girlfriend.

    Eventually, the entire lab disbanded, apparently due to lack of funding, with our client’s ex-boss and his girlfriend as the last employees.

    The action that the judge took this week was to warn former OBGYN Department chair at Dignity, Dr. James Balducci, that he must contact our law firm because he ignored a subpoena to appear for a deposition. The judge’s Order states that he’d consider holding the doctor  in contempt of court if he fails to promptly contact us to reschedule his deposition.

    In addition to Balducci being a no-show for his deposition, Dignity Health was refusing to produce documents relating to the termination of the other lab workers. This week, the judge ORDERED Dignity to provide those records.

    Finally, in a common tactic used by company lawyers, Dignity was threatening to send a subpoena to our client’s current employer in Texas, under the guise of needing independent verification of salary, benefits, etc., because somehow the documents we provided and offered to provide just were not sufficient enough. The judge said that Dignity’s lawyer can issue the subpoena, but only if they significantly narrow their request. Either way, it’s certainly the belief of this Houston Employment Lawyer and Miami Employment Lawyer  that this is an intimidation move to scare workers from filing lawsuits, lest their new employer discover that they sued their prior employer.

    For further information, I can be reached at 713.850.0066 or 305.538.6800, or by email at bruce.coane@gmail.com

     
    • Eva 12:37 pm on February 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply

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  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 3:21 pm on January 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , wrongful termination   

    Religious Discrimination case filed against Continental Real Estate Companies of Coral Gables 

    We recently filed an EEOC charge of employment discrimination based on religion and retaliation, against a Coral Gables company, Continental Real Estate Companies.

    The religious discrimination and retaliation charges arise out of a warning that our client got when she was first hired at the company, namely, do not discuss your Christian religious beliefs at work, according to the EEOC charge. Our client was told this, she states in the EEOC charge, by Luis Bertot, her Buddhist supervisor.

    A few months later when our client reported to Bertot about an offensive picture frame on a co-worker’s desk referencing Satan, Bertot fired her that same day, according to the EEOC charge.

    This Miami Employment Lawyer regularly files charges of discrimination with the EEOC on behalf of workers who were allegedly terminated in violation of civil rights laws. For further information, I may be reached at 305.538.6800 or bruce.coane@gmail.com.

     
  • Coane and Associates,PLLC 4:56 pm on December 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Pollo Tropical sued for Sex Discrimination and Retaliation-Company Claims Fired for Serving Expired Chicken 

    This has been a busy month at our law firm, filing employment discrimination lawsuits. A little over a week ago, I filed a lawsuit on behalf of my client against his former employer, Pollo Tropical. The lawsuit states that my client was discriminated against because of his sex and fired in retaliation for complaining about it.

    My client worked as a General Manager of a Pollo Tropical store in Pearland, Texas. While all seemed to be going well with his job performance and while recent store audits scored over 90%, my client states that he noticed that female managers were getting reviews and raises but he was getting neither. When he complained to Angel Cortes his District Manager and then to Chad Brown in the HR department, it is alleged that they made excuses but did not take any steps to equalize the situation.

    Instead of treating my client with the same level of fairness by giving him a review and a raise, the company, through Cortes, chose to fire him, the lawsuit alleges.  When my client asked Angel Cortes why he was fired, Cortes says it was due to policy violations, according to the lawsuit.

    When my client of this Houston Employment Lawyer and Miami Employment Lawyer confronted Mr. Brown about his termination, Brown says that he was fired “for changing the dates and labels of raw marinated expired chicken and thereby serving expired chicken to customers of Pollo Tropical,” according to the lawsuit. My client was aghast at such an allegation and denies that he did any such thing. If Pollo Tropical was serving expired chicken to its customers, my client denies having any knowledge of it, and says that the company was making up a reason to fire him in retaliation for complaining about discrimination.

    The lawsuit is pending in the U.S.District Court for the Southern District of Texas, and the first hearing will be coming up in April of 2018. A jury trial is likely to be scheduled for sometime in 2019.

    For further information, I may be reached at 713.850.0066 or 305.538.6800, or by email at bruce.coane@gmail.com

     

     

     
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