Articles Tagged with civil rights

Friedman & Houlding LLP clients Derick Brown, Atiba Flemons, and Jeffrey Taylor, have brought a Class Action suit on behalf of Black employees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, alleging that the University has a pattern or practice of tolerating racial harassment against its Black employees, and that the office charged with investigating complaints of racial harassment is itself discriminatory in its handling of complaints.

One former Office of Access and Equity (OAE) Investigator, a non-party witness in the lawsuit, testified that she “was working in a hostile work environment,” describing the reasons that she left her employment at OAE (formerly ODEA), the office charged with investigating complaints of harassment and discrimination at the Urbana-Champaign campus. Referring to Director of OAE, Heidi Johnson, the witness testified, “It was my perception and I believe the perception — because it was told to me by other colleagues, that Heidi favored our white colleagues.”

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The witness testified that she did not think Director Johnson treated employees of color in OAE equitably, describing Johnson’s indifference on issues concerning diversity and inclusion and personnel actions driven by bias, including stripping away the title of the witness, a person of color, without a stated basis, favoring White employees with less experience for promotions, and issuing the witness with a baseless disciplinary action. This treatment ultimately drove the witness to leave the University of Illinois after working many years as an OAE investigator.

A Tennessee woman has filed a Complaint in Davidson County Chancery Court alleging that her employer, Motel 6, did nothing to protect her from harassment based on her HIV positive status–and that she was summarily fired for taking action after the hotel was sold to a franchisee. Friedman & Houlding LLP represents the Plaintiff, Jane Roe, who is proceeding under a pseudonym to protect her personal health information.

Roe worked at a corporate-owned Motel 6 location. When she began taking a medication that could cause dizziness, she informed the two on-site managers about her HIV status so they could take appropriate precautions to protect their own health in the event she fell and was injured on the job.

Roe alleged that one of the managers proceeded to engage in a campaign of harassment based on Roe’s HIV status, including telling numerous coworkers as well as hotel guests that Roe “has AIDS,” telling a pregnant co-worker not to use the employee restroom after Roe, leaving Clorox wipes in the bathroom as a reference to Roe being “unclean,” and mocking Roe by asking about her health, making comments like “you look swollen today, are you sure your health is okay?” Roe alleged that the conduct even escalated to harassing phone calls on the hotel line while Roe was at work.

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