Summaries of Recent Human Rights Cases

For additional examples see the Commission's Annual Reports

2011 Summaries:  

Costly Threats

An administrative manager alleged that her employer discriminated against her on the basis of her race, Alaska Native. She alleged that the president of a subsidiary company showed her a knife, asked if she was afraid and told her she should be. The president yelled and cursed at her when she told him that she could not order him a new computer outside of the normal procedures. She complained to her employer, but no corrective action was taken. The mediation program facilitated a settlement between the parties in which the employer agreed to pay the manager $40,000, assist her in applying for jobs with the employer’s companies that fit her skills, and bar the president of the subsidiary from interacting with her in the future. The employer also provided anti-discrimination training to all of its managers, supervisors and employees.     

Cooking Up a Settlement

A camp cook in a seasonal position alleged his employer discriminated against him on the basis of his age, sixty-seven, when it terminated him. He claimed his employer told him he was terminated because of his age and health. The mediation program facilitated a settlement between the parties in which the employer agreed to pay the cook $8,944 in back pay and made him eligible for rehire in any cooking position for which he was qualified.

The Language of Mediation

A fueler alleged that his employer discriminated against him on the basis of his race, Asian, and national origin, Filipino. He alleged that his trainer made disparaging remarks regarding the employee’s computer skills, his English language skills, and yelled and insulted him, yet did not treat the employees not of his race or national origin in the same belittling manner. He said conditions became so intolerable that he was forced to take leave. The parties agreed to mediation and reached a settlement. The employer agreed to pay the fueler $2,000 and credit him with 96 hours sick leave and 80 hours vacation leave. He had already returned to work just prior to the mediation.

Driving a Truck Through Discrimination

A truck driver complained that after she was diagnosed with a neurological disorder, her employer disqualified her from driving and terminated her.  She alleged that her employer discriminated against her because it perceived her to have a disability that made her unqualified to drive.  Staff found substantial evidence to support her complaint of discrimination. In conciliation, the employer agreed to provide anti-discrimination training for its employees, disseminate a statement of a corporate nondiscrimination policy to all employees, expunge the driver’s personnel file, and pay her $12,716 in back pay.

Settlement Over Stereotypes

A bank employee alleged that her employer discriminated against her because of her race, Caucasian, and retaliated against her. She said her manager would say, “White Power,” and give her a Nazi salute to mock her Caucasian-German heritage. She was denied leave when she needed medical attention but non-Caucasian workers received medical leave. After she complained about discrimination, her employer said Asians are quiet but “you people” are loud and obnoxious. She was written up for insubordination when she asked for the name of her manager’s supervisor and was told she could resign with severance pay or endure a long investigation just to return to the same work environment. She felt she had no choice but to resign.  In mediation the employer agreed to pay her $1,500.

Coming or Going

A clerk alleged that her employer discriminated against her on the basis of her age and sex. When she left for maternity leave a month early because of complications, her employer hired a younger male employee to replace her.  She had told her employer she would return after her approved maternity leave. Her employer denied that she said she intended to return to work.  The mediation program facilitated a settlement in which the employer paid the clerk $12,197, rehired her, and removed all negative statements from her personnel file.    

Two Can Be Better Than One

A cashier alleged that his employer discriminated against him on the basis of his race, Black, by treating him differently and then terminating him. He said his employer normally staffed graveyard shifts with two employees, but he had to work the shift alone and was required to do as much work as two. The parties mediated the matter and reached a settlement in which the employer paid him $1,500. 

Your Kind Can't Work Here

A factory worker filed a complaint alleging that her employer discriminated against her because of her sex and religion, Mormon, and terminated her for opposing discrimination.  The complainant alleged that her coworker continually subjected her to unwelcome, offensive remarks of a sexual nature, and that though she complained, her employer did not take corrective action. She alleged that an owner stated they wanted to fire all the Mormon employees and not hire any more. The employer fired her within hours after she told the owners that she intended to cooperate in an investigation of discrimination at the Commission.  Staff found substantial evidence to support her claims.  The employer conciliated the case by providing anti-discrimination training to its managers and supervisors, and developing, disseminating, and posting an anti-discrimination policy.

 

2010 Summaries

Don't Gamble with Harassment

A caller at a bingo parlor alleged that her manager subjected her to offensive sexual comments, ridicule, and different terms and conditions of employment because of her sex. She also alleged that her manager reduced her hours and assigned her to a less desirable shift after she complained about the manager’s actions, and that her working conditions became so intolerable that she was forced to resign. The Commission investigated the case and found that the caller’s allegations were supported by substantial evidence. The parties entered into a conciliation agreement in which the bingo parlor agreed to pay the caller $5,780 in back pay and to train its managers, supervisors, and employees on the laws prohibiting discrimination in employment.

Not Going to Take it Anymore

A forty-eight-year-old woman who worked as a project administrator for a technical services company alleged that she was discriminated against because of her age after her manager told her she was not up to the challenge of her position and referred to her as a “den mother.” When the manager demoted her and told her she was being replaced by a younger, less experienced employee, she felt she had no choice but to resign her position. The mediation program facilitated a settlement between the parties in which the employer agreed to pay the administrator $7,500.

Dollars for Dirty Jobs

A Micronesian laborer who worked for a construction company alleged that he was treated differently than other employees and harassed by his coworkers because of his race and national origin. He alleged that his coworkers made offensive comments about his race and national origin and forced him to do dirty jobs while they watched or ran personal errands, and that his working conditions became so intolerable that he was forced to resign. The parties mediated the case and reached a settlement in which the employer agreed to pay the laborer $30,000 and give him a positive reference.

So Not My Job

An apprentice serviceman complained that he was treated differently by his employer because of his race, Black. He alleged that he was the only apprentice that was assigned menial tasks such as sweeping floors, getting lunch for his supervisor, and making coffee, and that his supervisor made offensive racial comments in his presence. He also alleged that he was not provided training or allowed to work extra hours while other apprentices received both. He said that he resigned his position after three months because his working conditions were intolerable. The parties mediated the complaint and reached a settlement in which the employer agreed to pay the apprentice $1,500 and provide training to its supervisor regarding prohibitions on race discrimination. 

Fair Play for All

A father filed a complaint on behalf of his 11-year-old Alaska Native son with physical and mental disabilities, alleging that an educational institution failed to properly investigate incidents involving his son and failed to prevent or punish offensive name-calling and physical mistreatment of his son based on his race and physical and mental disabilities. During investigation, the parties agreed to settle the case. The institution agreed to train its staff in a program designed to teach social skills to all children, provide staff with annual training to prevent harassment and discrimination, and to review and increase playground supervision.

Too Small

A 60-year-old Alaska Native woman filed a discrimination complaint based on race, sex, and age. She alleged that new management of the seafood processing plant relieved her of her duties. They told her that she was “too small a woman to be packing” though she had worked ten years at the plant. Shortly after this demotion, the employer fired her. She was only two years from retirement. The employer denied the allegations, but offered to settle the case. After extensive negotiations by Commission staff, the employer and employee agreed to a predetermination settlement awarding the employee $30,000 in back pay and retirement benefits. The employer also agreed to remove any references to the demotion, firing, and discrimination complaint from her personnel file.

The Road Best Not Traveled

An applicant for a position as a travel agent filed a complaint alleging that the agency refused to hire her because of congenital deformities of both her arms. The agency denied the allegation stating that it did not hire her because she lacked the requisite knowledge and experience, and because she did not dress "professionally." Staff investigated the complaint and determined that substantial evidence supported the applicant's allegation of disability discrimination. The agency agreed to sign a Conciliation Agreement and paid the applicant $22,000, trained its management in the laws prohibiting discrimination against persons with disabilities, and developed and disseminated to all employees a policy against discrimination.