Summaries of Recent Human Rights Cases
For additional examples see the Commission's Annual Reports
Younger and Wiser
A nineteen-year-old parts department manager alleged her employer discriminated against her on the basis of her sex and age by refusing to pay her what her male counterparts were making. Respondent’s owner did not believe complainant was old enough to know how to properly do the job. When complainant’s supervisor promoted complainant to the parts department manager position, respondent derailed the promotion citing complainant’s age and two weeks later terminated complainant. Staff found that respondent discriminated against complainant because of her age. In conciliation, complainant received full back pay of $19,696.
Rash and Costly Termination
An operations trainer alleged that his employer discriminated against him on the basis of his physical disability. After he was injured on the job, he returned to light duty work. Later medical evaluation indicated he could not return to work until after an already scheduled surgery. Days before his surgery, his employer terminated him though he was still on approved medical leave. The parties mediated the complaint. The employer agreed to pay him $135,644, forgive a prior $18,693 overpayment to him, pay three months of health insurance and six months dental insurance. Both parties released each other from liability.
Kicked Out for Candor
An administrative assistant alleged that her employer discriminated against her on the basis of her race, treated her as if she were disabled, and retaliated against her. She alleged the office manager was rude, singled her out and made offensive racial comments. When the owner asked how to improve her work environment, she complained about the manager’s treatment of her. That same day, the employer terminated her saying she was unable to work with the manager. The complaint settled when the employer agreed to pay her $2,000 and provide a positive reference.
A female engineer alleged that her employer failed to promote her because of her sex. She alleged that she was qualified for promotion to the Engineer II position yet her supervisor repeatedly refused to promote her. The parties reached a settlement wherein the employer paid her $10,000, promoted her to Engineer II, and created an anti-bullying policy.
Fair Play Vital
A male African-American assistant manager alleged that his employer discriminated against him on the basis of his race and his sex. He had a disagreement with his Caucasian female manager regarding her management style. His employer sent him home and later terminated him. The parties mediated the complaint and the employer agreed to pay complainant the sum of $5,760.
A refrigerator operator alleged that her employer discriminated against her based on her disability by treating her as if she had a disability. She suffered a work injury that damaged her thumb. Although she provided her employer with doctor’s notes stating she needed to be on light duty with lifting restrictions, she was still required to perform heavy lifting. Her doctor informed her employer that she needed to be on permanent lifting restrictions. Within two months of this notification, her employer terminated her. In a settlement, the employer paid her $10,000 and changed her termination to a resignation.
A female technician alleged that her employer discriminated against her on the basis of her sex. She said that she was hired for installation and for service, and alternated between both positions. When the owner’s wife was working as office manager, they discussed complainant’s desire to start a family someday. Shortly thereafter, the owner told her that he did not want her to work installation because he did not want anything to happen to a baby if she became pregnant. A few months later, the employer laid her off and said he could not guarantee her employment when work picked up. The case settled when the employer agreed to receive professional anti-discrimination training.
Point Driven Home
Complainant alleges that she called respondent and inquired about an advertised driver/guide position. She talked with respondent about her qualifications, which included driving experience in Alaska and a CDL. Respondent told her that he did not hire anyone under twenty-nine years of age as his customers preferred older drivers. Investigation showed that respondent hired three male drivers, two of whom had no prior driving experience. The Commission found substantial evidence that respondent did not hire complainant because of her age and sex and conciliated the case. Complainant received $900 in back pay and respondent agreed to training.
Mother Knows Best
A mother filed a complaint on behalf of her minor daughter alleging the daughter’s employer discriminated against her on the basis of disability by treating her as if she were disabled. After the daughter provided her employer with a medical release that included lifting restrictions, the employer removed her from the schedule and told her when she could return to work without restrictions to call and see if a position was available. Through mediation the parties settled when the employer agreed to pay her $5,000.
An Alaska Native heavy equipment operator alleged that his employer discriminated against him on the basis of his race when it terminated him for minor safety violations while other employees not of his race committed more serious violations and were not terminated. The mediation program facilitated a settlement in which the employer paid him $13,500 and his attorney $6,500, and confirmed his eligibility for rehire.
A female housekeeper alleged that her employer discriminated against her on the basis of her sex. Although she had no prior discipline, she was terminated for being disrespectful to her supervisor. Yet, her employer did not terminate a male coworker for similar actions. The mediation program facilitated a settlement in which the employer paid her $4,452.
Repairing Race Discrimination
An African-American mechanic alleged that his employer discriminated against him on the basis of his race. He worked for the employer for over one year and was the only employee of his race at his work location. He alleged that his employer disciplined and terminated him for actions, when it did not discipline or terminate employees not of his race for similar actions. The parties reached a settlement in which the employer paid him $3,000 and provided him a neutral reference.
The Cost of Vengeance
A property manager alleged that her employer discriminated against her based on her disability and retaliated against her. She complained to her supervisor that her coworker’s hostile behavior exacerbated her disability symptoms. When no corrective action was taken, she took medical leave for four months. After her return to work, her employer ostracized her, ignored her work emails, reassigned her higher level responsibilities to nondisabled coworkers, and denied her requests for accommodation without engaging in an interactive process. The parties reached a settlement in which the employer paid her $65,750 and the manager resigned from the company.
Words Do Hurt
An African-American shuttle driver alleged that his employer’s president called him a racially derogatory name, but the employer failed to take any action to resolve or prevent it from happening again. The employer admitted the driver was subjected to racially derogatory comments, but asserts the company attempted to resolve the situation. Commission staff found the employer’s president subjected the driver to a derogatory comment based on his race, and repeated the comment in the presence of others. Staff also found that the employer failed to take corrective action and that the conduct was so severe that it created a hostile work environment. During conciliation, the employer disseminated policies prohibiting discrimination and provided training for all its employees. The driver continues to work for this company.
A female cashier and store clerk alleged that her employer discriminated against her on the basis of her sex when its owner subjected her to offensive sexual comments and unwanted touching. The complainant alleged the behavior was so pervasive she felt she had no other option but to resign. The owner stated he often made crude comments, but in a playful manner. He also admitted to squeezing the employee’s buttocks in a joking way. Staff found the owner frequently called the complainant derogatory names, and continued to do so after she objected. Evidence showed the owner told sexual jokes, made frequent comments about female employees’ bodies, and advised managers to only hire attractive young women. The cashier resigned because of the owner’s relentless inappropriate behavior. During conciliation, the employer adopted policies prohibiting discrimination, provide training for its owner and employees, and paid the complainant for lost wages totaling $2,700.
A Slice of Justice
An African-American dispatcher at a pizza call center complained that her supervisor wrote and made racially disparaging comments directed toward her and when she complained, terminated her. Staff found substantial evidence to support her claim. During conciliation, the employer agreed to provide anti-discrimination training for its employees, post an anti-discrimination policy, and pay the dispatcher $5,000 in back pay.
Settlement for “Sexting”
A female bus driver alleged that her employer discriminated against her based on her sex, and retaliated against her for opposing discrimination when it terminated her employment after she rejected the owner’s sexual advances. The employer denied the allegations, but evidence showed the employer sent inappropriate messages to the complainant, and terminated her after she asked him to stop. The employer adopted policies prohibiting discrimination, provided training for all its employees, and paid the complainant for lost wages totaling $2,654.
Meddling Ends In Mediation
A security officer alleged that his employer discriminated against him by treating him as if he were disabled. He alleged that after he fell asleep, his supervisor took his weapon, sent him home prior to end of his work rotation, and required him to take a physical exam. After he was medically cleared to return to work, his supervisor required him to see a clinical therapist. When again medically cleared to return to work, his employer referred him to marital counseling. Eventually, his employer returned him to work. The mediation program facilitated a settlement in which the employer agreed to pay him $5,800 in lost wages and an additional $4,000.
I Spy Discrimination
An Alaska Native desk clerk complained that respondent subjected her to derogatory racial comments about Alaska Natives and African-Americans, and when she complained about the offensive remarks, respondent retaliated by terminating her. Commission staff found that respondent’s employees warned about renting rooms to certain potential guests. The manager instructed employees to turn away customers who did not meet her criteria: a valid ID, age twenty-one or older, and a valid credit card or method of payment. When an African-American customer who met the criteria tried to rent a room, the manager, who viewed the front desk from a camera in her apartment, came out and turned the customer away, telling him there were no vacancies when there were. In conciliation, complainant received $2,500.
A male African-American cook/field manager alleged that his employer discriminated against him on the basis of his race and sex. He was the only African-American working at this remote camp kitchen. After he reported a Caucasian female subordinate for work performance problems, no corrective action was taken by his employer. His employer terminated him but did not terminate the female subordinate. The employer agreed to pay the employee $5,000 during mediation.
Good for Goose and Gander
A male maintenance worker alleged that his employer discriminated against him on the basis of his sex. He said that a female supervisor tried to pursue an unwelcome personal relationship with him and created a hostile work environment. Although he complained to his employer, no corrective action was taken and instead the employer suggested that he was the problem. The parties reached a settlement in which the employer agreed to include sexual harassment training as part of its annual instruction for all employees, and to publish a newsletter article regarding the harm of gossiping in workplace subject to complainant’s review before publication.
Recipe for Settlement
A cook’s helper alleged that his employer discriminated against him by treating him as if he were disabled and terminating his employment. He had a work-related injury and saw a doctor because he was in pain. He provided his supervisor with a doctor’s note saying he needed bed rest. The following day he was disciplined for not telling his supervisor prior to going to the doctor, for not wearing his gloves, and was terminated. The parties reached a settlement in which the employer paid him $4,000 and provided a reference showing his eligibility for rehire.