The most interesting HR stories of the week

Fired Dollar worker inspires TikTok revolt

A top-performing Dollar manager fired for posting videos on TikTok about poor working conditions has seen a flurry other workers upload their own TikTok clips in support of her. Mary Gundel began her ‘Retail Store Manager Life’ videos at her store in Tampa, in late March. In them, she alleged that the retailer had slashed staffs’ hours and left supervisors frazzled and alone to unpack mountains of shipments with no overtime. When bosses later fired her other employees have since turned to the social media app to voice their own discontent. “’Everything is true. The reason these stores get in such bad condition is because they don’t have the hours to give the employees to work them,” said one. ‘I am so tired I can’t even talk,’ one employee said. ‘Give me my life back.’ In a statement, Dollar General said it provides ‘many avenues’ for frustrated employees to be heard. It added: “’We are disappointed any time an employee feels we have not lived up to our goals and we use those situations as additional opportunities to listen and learn.”

Employee awarded $450,000 after being thrown a birthday party by bosses

An employee at medical laboratory, Gravity Diagnostics, has been awarded $450,000 after bosses disregarded his wish not to be given a birthday party. According to court papers, employee Kevin Berling had specifically asked to not have a party, but this was ignored, causing a party to go ahead, and him suffering a panic attack at the time, and further attacks in the days afterwards when staff accused him of stealing other co-workers’ joy. A few days later, Berling was fired. After hearing the case a jury awarded Berling $450,000, including “$120,000 in lost wages and benefits; $30,000 in future lost wages and benefits; and $300,000 for past, present and future mental pain and suffering, mental anguish, embarrassment, humiliation, mortification and loss of self-esteem.” According to The Guardian, Gravity Diagnostics is reported to be appealing the decision.

High performer wins $84,000 for being fired after revealing pregnancy

Storage container firm Cassone Leasing has been ordered to pay a former employee $84,000 after she was fired for revealing she was pregnant. The employee, rated one point shy of “excellent” is reported to have being fired just days after a pregnancy-related absence, and less than a week after she’d disclosed her pregnancy to HR. In addition to the payout, Cassone Leasing has been ordered to provide antidiscrimination and harassment training, introduce a more robust complaint and investigation procedure, and report complaints of sex discrimination, including pregnancy and harassment, to the EEOC. Pregnant workers are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was amended in 1978 by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to include discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.

Five Starbucks stores become first to unionize in Virginia

Employees at five Starbucks coffee stores in Virginia have voted overwhelmingly for union representation as part of a nationwide effort to organize workers at one of the United States’ largest retail store chains. The votes cast showed a vote that was 82 employees in favor of union representation with 14 votes against according to a tally by the Northern Virginia Labor Federation, which has been working with Workers United, a Philadelphia-based union, to organize workers at Starbucks stores. Speaking to The Roanoke Times Virginia Diamond, president of the Northern Virginia Labor Federation, said: “This is a growing movement and growing all the time. This is a generation of workers that believes they can build a labor movement for the future.” The votes were among employees at Starbucks stores at Huguenot Village, Willow Lawn, Westchester Commons, Carmia Way and Forest Hill Avenue. Employees at four more Richmond-area stores are still waiting to vote.

Walmart seeks new trial in wrongful firing case

Retail giant, Walmart, has applied for a new trial to overturn a previous ruling which said it wrongfully fired a long term (16 years) employee with Down Syndrome. Last July a jury initially found that Walmart wrongfully terminated Marlo Spaeth. But in a court filing this week, Walmart is claiming it did not know about the link between Spaeth’s disability and her struggles to adapt to a new work schedule, which ultimately led to her firing. Walmart claims the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which represented Spaeth, did not show proof that Walmart “discriminated against her ‘with malice or with reckless indifference to [her] federally protected rights.’ Last year’s jury found Walmart violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it fired Spaeth rather than adjusting her schedule as a “reasonable accommodation” to her disability. Her work hours were changed when the Walmart store began using a computerized-scheduling system.

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States are smashing their employment levels

New data released by the US Bureau of Labour Statistics this week finds there are more than a dozen states that have now reached or exceeded their pre-pandemic employment levels. Utah, Idaho and Montana saw their jobs return fastest to the pre-pandemic employment levels of February 2020, and now lead the nation in employment growth – at 4.99%, 4.95% and 3.25%, respectively. These three states, along with Arizona and Colorado, had all recovered their losses. Other states that have made a full employment recovery include Arkansas, South Dakota and Indiana. Overall, the US is now just 1.6 million jobs shy of its pre-pandemic employment level, after adding another 431,000 jobs in March, when unemployment fell to a pandemic low of 3.6%. The labor market is on pace to recover nearly eight years faster than it did after the Great Recession.

 

 

Peter Crush is the interim editor of TLNT. He’s an award-winning journalist based in London, and he writes exclusively about the ever-changing world of work.

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