Let’s start with the basic premise most discriminatory employers don’t just discriminate once. Discrimination typically comes from an employer’s belief structure that nothing it does is ever wrong or that it simply will not get caught. This usually results in an ongoing pattern of discrimination and violation of employment laws. Like most crimes, the perpetrators eventually get caught because they continue to engage in unlawful acts. To that end, you can sue your employer for multiple employment law violations at the same time, which is why it’s smart to get the help of experienced employment lawyers to help you identify all the claims. (Read: What is the Spitz No Fee Guarantee?).
For an example of a serial employment law violator, let’s look at WhidbeyHealth, who recently had its string of discriminatory conduct catch up with it. In 2020, Dr. Melissa Chinn, an obstetrician-gynecologist (“OBGYN”) sued WhidbeyHealth in federal court for gender and national origin discrimination. According to her lawsuit, WhidbeyHealth paid Dr. Chinn less than male doctors performing substantially the same work. Furthermore, despite reports up the ladder, WhidbeyHealth tolerated an ongoing pattern of insubordination on patient care orders by nurses, staff, and other medical providers, who concurrently followed the directives of male, non-Asian doctors. Dr. Chinn’s lawsuit detailed a hostile work environment with frequent overtly racist comments, including a fellow doctor’s operating room “diatribes” about the evil Asians in World War II. (Best Law Read: What Qualifies A Hostile Work Environment Under Title VII?; What Is A Hostile Work Environment?).
Dr. Chinn is not alone in pointing to unlawful conduct. Morghan Milagrosa, a midwife, was subjected to an ongoing hostile based on her sexual orientation. (Best Law Read: Yes, Straight Bosses Are Liable For Sex Harassing Lesbians; Can A Hostile Work Environment Be Based On Transgender Harassment?). And when Milagrosa reported the sexual harassment, WhidbeyHealth opted against fixing the underlying problem in favor of retaliation against Milagrosa and wrongfully fired her. (Best Law Read: Can My Boss Fire Me For Reporting His Sexual Harassment?)
In 2019, Dr. James Elbaor, who was 70 years old at the time, sued WhidbeyHealth for failing to hire him because of his age. (Best Law Read: How Do You Prove An Unlawful Failure To Hire Claim?; How Do I Prove A Failure Hire Case?). He had pretty good evidence too. Preston Moore, physician recruiter, provided an affidavit attesting that the orthopedic surgeons’ office business manager told him that Dr. Elbaor would not fit because they were already working to oust two older surgeons in order to replace them with younger ones. But that was not even the best evidence! Indeed, WhidbeyHealth’s Director of Practice Management emailed several people that the employer should “try as hard as possible to not hire guys who are rich or sunsetting … and at 72 there is no way he is going to work for 5 more years let alone 10. … We have not had good luck hiring guys who are close to or past retirement age. Let’s not waste time with providers etc. interviewing this guy.” (Best Law Read: What Constitutes Direct Evidence of Age Discrimination?). Nonetheless, WhidbeyHealth said that it never considered age but rather made the decision not to hire because of the lack of qualifications presented by Dr. Elbaor, who completed his residency at Harvard University and served as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve Corps medical attachment. (Best Law Read: Employment Discrimination Question: What Is Pretext?).
Still not done, let’s now discuss Mary Beth Williams, the former health unit coordinator, who asserted that her manager and human resources (“HR”) ignored her complaints detailing a coworkers’ harassment of her resulting in needing medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) for anxiety and depression; and that she was demoted upon her return. (Best Law Read: What Are My Mental Health Rights At Work?). She also asserted that
In settlements so far, WhidbeyHealth’s insurer has paid out $1.75 million to Dr. Chinn, $125,000 to Milagrosa, and $1.5 million to Dr. Elbaor (plus another $38,000 to settle a related public records violation lawsuit). Williams’ lawsuit is still pending.
Amazingly, WhidbeyHealth’s attorney, Jake Kempton, pointed to the fact that it was the liability insurers decision to pay the settlements and that WhidbeyHealth denied any and all wrongdoing. Moreover, to prop itself up, WhidbeyHealth excitingly pointed to one case it did win against one employee. Swell, that just means there is one more disgruntled ex-employee out there.
Now, given that Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm settles about 2,000 cases per year, I understand that a denial of liability is a typical part of any settlement, but at some point, an employer has to openly say that we have to do better; we have to be better. When publicly facing these charges and publicly paying these types of settlements, telling your remaining employees that we did nothing wrong sends the message that the same conduct will not only occur, but will be tolerated. And this was not an isolated incident. Rather, it appears as if WhidbeyHealth was trying to violate every major employment law in order to fill up its bingo card.
Let’s take a look at those laws that WhidbeyHealth violated.
What is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
Best Employment Attorney Answer: Title VII is a federal protects employees and job applicants from employment discrimination in all facets of employment based on race/color, religion, gender/sex (including pregnancy) and national origin. Pursuant to the United States Supreme Court’s June 15, 2020 decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, No. 17-1618, Title VII protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and queer employees, as well as all workers along the full spectrum of sexual identification and orientation (LGBTQ+ status), from workplace discrimination. Title VII protects employees as part of hiring, disciplinary, promotions, pay, and termination based on the above protected classes. Title VII further makes it unlawful for employers to create or allow harassment and hostile working environments based on race/color, religion, gender/sex, LGBTQ+ status, and national origin. Title VII also contains an anti-retaliation provision that prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for reporting or participating in an investigation into violations of Title VII.
What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?
Best Disability Discrimination Law Firm Answer: The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) protects employees and applicants from discrimination in all aspects of employment (hiring, disciplinary, promotions, pay, and termination) as well as harassment and hostile work environments based on actual or perceived disabilities. Under the ADA, an employee will be protected as having a physical, mental or emotional disability if that employee (a) has an impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities; (b) has a record of such impairment; or (c) is regarded as having such an impairment by the employer. Beyond the protections of discrimination, the ADA mandates employers provide reasonable accommodations to employees with a disability that will assist the employee in performing job functions. The ADA further protects employees regarding the scope and timing of when employers can obtain and share employee medical records and information. Like Title VII, the ADA contains an anti-retaliation provision that prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for reporting or participating in an investigation into violations of the ADA.
What is the Equal Pay Act?
Best Employment Discrimination Lawyer Answer: The Equal Pay Act (“EPA”) prohibits wage discrimination “between employees on the basis of sex … for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions.” 29 U.S.C. § 206(d).
In Corning Glass Works v. Brennan, 417 U.S. 188, 195, 94 S. Ct. 2223, 2228, 41 L. Ed. 2d 1 (1974), the United States Supreme Court held:
Congress’ purpose in enacting the Equal Pay Act was to remedy what was perceived to be a serious and endemic problem of employment discrimination in private industry—the fact that the wage structure of ‘many segments of American industry has been based on an ancient but outmoded belief that a man, because of his role in society, should be paid more than a woman even though his duties are the same.’ S.Rep. No. 176, 88th Cong., 1st Sess., 1 (1963). The solution adopted was quite simple in principle: to require that ‘equal work will be rewarded by equal wages.’ Ibid.
Most overlook the fact that the EPA is an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) rather to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This means that in addition to EPA claims, gender discrimination claims under Title VII can be brought concurrently. Our employment and pay discrimination attorneys have addressed the ins and outs of these claims recently (Best Law Read: What Is Pay Discrimination?; What Are Some Examples Of Gender Discrimination In The Workplace?)
What is the FMLA?
Best Work Medical Leave Lawyer Answer: The Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) provides eligible employees the job protected right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for serious family and medical reasons, including the birth or adoption of a child. While leave under the FMLA is unpaid, the FMLA does require continuation of group health insurance. The FMLA holds employers liable for interfering with an employee’s FMLA rights(blocking or not informing employee of rights) or retaliating against an employee for exercising those rights (demoting, cutting pay, terminating, etc.).
What is the Fair Labor Standards Act?
Best Overtime and Wage Theft Lawyer Answer: The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) is the federal law that establishes and protects non-exempt employees’ rights to minimum wage and overtime pay at not less than time and half for all hours worked over 40 hours in a designated workweek. The FLSA further requires employers of keeping accurate and contemporaneous employee time and pay records. Like other employment laws, the FLSA contains an antiretaliation provision that protects employees’ rights to report and participate in investigations into wage and hour violations.
How do I figure out what laws my employer violated?
Best Employment Law Firm Answer: Consult the most experienced lawyers at the law firm with the most resources as possible. A Google search is not the same having gone to law school, focused your practice in the area of employees’ rights, and having tens of thousands of employees’ rights claims. You have absolutely no risk in calling Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm to schedule a free and confidential consultation. (Read: What is the Spitz No Fee Guarantee?) Call our lawyers in Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Toledo and Cincinnati to get help now. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm and its experienced attorneys are dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.
This employment law website is an advertisement. The materials available at the top of this page and at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “How do I know what to sue my employer for?”, “What should I do if I was wrongfully fired today,” “My boss discriminated against me because I’m Asian,” or “I was fired in retaliation for reporting gender discrimination”, it would be best for to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular employment law issue or problem. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.