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EEOC investigates claim Google committed pregnancy discrimination

Workplace discrimination and other work-related issues are getting more attention in Illinois and across the United States. This has benefited workers as they have been more likely to report violations and work to be compensated for what they lost. Unfortunately, these incidents still happen. In one case that is currently under investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, Google is accused of pregnancy discrimination.

In the case, a woman who was a five-year employee at Google asserted that she was confronted with workplace retaliation and pregnancy discrimination. She initially complained via internal memo. It was eventually a widely shared document at the company with at least 10,000 people seeing it. The EEOC complaint was filed toward the end of 2019. Google said it did not discriminate against her.

Distracted truckers can cause dangerous accidents

When you're tooling down the road doing the speed limit and obeying the traffic laws, it can be quite nerve-racking to have a mighty semitruck blow past you dangerously close to your passenger vehicle.

The drivers of these big-rig behemoths certainly cause their share of highway carnage when they collide with smaller trucks and cars. The great disparity between the weights and sizes of the vehicles — especially when the truck driver is carrying a full cargo load — mean that whomever is in the smaller vehicle will usually receive the worst injuries if they are lucky enough to survive at all.

Study finds most U.S. workers experience, see discrimination

According to a recent survey, companies in Illinois and across the country are actively improving the diversity of their workforce. However, the poll also found that the majority of employees report that they have experienced or witnessed some type of discrimination while at work.

The survey, which was conducted by researchers at the job search website Glassdoor, asked workers in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany about their experiences with on-the-job discrimination. It found that U.S. workers reported the most cases of discrimination, with around 60% saying that they had experienced or seen discrimination in their workplace. Specifically, 45% of U.S. workers said they had experienced or seen ageism on the job, 42% said they had experienced or seen gender discrimination or racism and 33% said they had experienced or seen LGBTQ discrimination.

NHTSA's 5-star car safety ratings may need updating

Illinois drivers may be familiar with the 5-star car safety rating system that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration uses. Back in the 1990s, the agency developed this system out of its New Car Assessment Program, which started the tradition of crash testing vehicles in a laboratory with crash dummies. No doubt the rating system has had a positive impact on the auto industry, but some believe that it needs to be updated to suit changing times.

This was the conclusion of one individual, a member of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, who released a report in October 2019 saying that the U.S. is falling behind other countries in the thoroughness of its crash testing. Europe, for example, performs four times as many crash tests as the U.S. does in order to rate vehicle safety.

Retaliation top EEOC workplace discrimination claim in 2019

Illinois employees might be interested to learn that workplace retaliation was once again the top charge filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission during the 2019 fiscal year, which ended in September. The agency releases a breakdown of the charges it receives annually, and retaliation also topped the list in 2018.

The EEOC reports that it received a total of 72,675 charges last year, which is a decrease from the 76,418 it received in 2018 and the 84,254 it received in 2017. Of the 2019 charges, 39,110 were for retaliation, 24,238 were for disability, 23,976 were for race and 23,532 were for sex. In addition, the agency received 15,573 age-related claims, 7,009 claims involving national origin, 3,415 claims over color discrimination, 2,725 religious discrimination claims, 1,117 claims involving equal pay and 209 claims for genetic information discrimination.

Recording Academy CEO files sexual harassment complaint with EEOC

Music fans in Illinois anticipate the Grammy Awards every year, but a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has exposed allegations of sexual harassment within the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. The Recording Academy's suspended president and CEO has accused the man serving as the organization's general counsel of repeatedly asking her to spend time with him. According to her complaint, she complained to human resources about his unwanted advances and was placed on administrative leave as a result.

The complaint drafted by her lawyer claimed that the harassment began during a business dinner in May 2019 when the general counsel, who at one time had chaired the academy's board, started calling her "baby." He also admired her appearance and invited her to travel with him to his "many homes" because they should spend more time together. The woman said that she made her disinterest in accompanying him very clear, but he still tried to kiss her. She further alleges that he persisted in his behavior in every subsequent one-on-one encounter with her despite her repeated rejections.

Winter brings icy sidewalks to Belleville

With the Arctic blasts sweeping down from the Canadian prairies, the streets and sidewalks in Belleville are frequently coated in layers of ice and snow. Both can bring hazards to unwary pedestrians who may trip and fall on the slippery surfaces.

But who is responsible for the subsequent injuries one might suffer from taking a tumble on the ice? Under the law, the commercial or residential property owners can be held civilly liable for the subsequent injuries in many cases.

Lawsuit accuses McDonald's Corp. of racial discrimination

A lawsuit filed in an Illinois federal court on Jan. 7 by two African-American executives accuses McDonald's Corporation of racial discrimination. The female plaintiffs say the Chicago-based fast-food giant nurtures a hostile work environment and denies its black employees promotions. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and claims that the discrimination has cost the two plaintiffs more than $2 million in lost pay and benefits.

The two women were both vice presidents when McDonald's restructured its executive positions in 2018. The restructure led to both of the women being demoted. The company's former CEO is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. The plaintiffs allege that they were subjected to racial slurs throughout their time at McDonald's. One of them mentions that no action was taken when she reported such an incident in 2005.

Workplace class-action lawsuits declined in 2019

While the statistics for employee lawsuits in 2019 may appear promising for improved workplaces in Illinois and nationwide, they may highlight more troubling realities. The year marked the first time in over 10 years that the number of class-action lawsuits filed over issues like workplace discrimination, endangered retirement benefits or wage and hour violations dropped. However, this may not indicate that employers are actually improving their practices or offering safer, more responsive and equitable workplaces. Instead, a growing number of workplaces may be enforcing arbitration against employees rather than allowing them to proceed with class-action lawsuits.

In a decision, the Supreme Court allowed employers to require waivers for class-action lawsuits for their employees, requiring them to used closed-door arbitration practices instead. Some say that the drop in class-action lawsuits over workplace issues, especially common problems like wage theft or employment discrimination, indicates that companies have updated their policies to require arbitration in light of the high court's ruling. There was a 5.8% decline across the board in workplace class-action lawsuits, including cases dealing with retirement benefits, wage violations and workplace discrimination. However, there were still 25,000 federal cases filed across the country to challenge these issues.

Marijuana impaired driving is illegal, but hard to prove

Smoking marijuana became legal in Illinois on January 1, but driving while stoned is still illegal. Although impaired driving has legal consequences and may cause personal injury, proving that a driver is impaired by marijuana is difficult.

Drivers may not operate a vehicle while impaired by cannabis used medically or recreationally, according to the Illinois Secretary of State's Office. Passengers cannot smoke marijuana in moving vehicles. While adults may legally possess one ounce of marijuana, it must be stored in the odor-proof and child-proof container that it was sold in.

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