Target Faces California Labor Lawsuit Over Multicultural Memo
Courthouse News Service (7/8/13) reports that three employees, Robert Gonzalez, Bulmaro Fabian and Pedro Garcia-Ayala, filed the lawsuit with allegations of harassment, discrimination and retaliation. They claim they were subject to racist comments and racial slurs from management at the distribution warehouse. When Target provided an anti-racism document on multicultural relations, that document reportedly included information about Hispanic employees, including:
“a. Food: not everyone eats tacos and burritos;
“b. Music: not everyone dances to salsa;
“d. Mexicans (lower education level, some may be undocumented)”
The employees further claim that they were retaliated against by managers, most of whom were white, when they complained about working conditions to human resources, including having managers attempt to humiliate them, and were fired for discriminatory reasons, including their race and age.
The lawsuits seek punitive damages.
In a response sent to The Huffington Post (7/12/13), Target said the memo only went to one distribution center and was not part of official training curricula. The company apologized for distribution of the memo.
Both California labor law and federal labor law prohibit discrimination and harassment based on race. Harassing comments can be seen to contribute to a hostile work environment for employees, while job decisions - including hiring, firing and disciplinary actions - cannot be made for discriminatory reasons, such as race, national origin or age.
Meanwhile, Apple Inc. faces a lawsuit alleging its employees were not properly paid for overtime. The two plaintiffs allege they were forced to stay during unpaid breaks and after they had clocked out from their shift to have their bags searched. According to court documents (found online at gigaom.com), those bag searches could take between 10 and 15 minutes each, time for which employees were not compensated. Because the searches were done solely for Apple’s benefit, employees say they should have been paid for their time. One of the plaintiffs alleges the extra time adds up to around $1,500 a year.
The Apple lawsuit, case number 3:13-cv-03451-EDL, seeks unpaid wages, overtime and penalties.