From my experiences in the last few years I have come to realize that maternity leave is frowned upon by Employers. I have included this story not because it is wild or crazy, but because I wanted to open this issue up for discussion. In this case Brandi Cochran was a model for the TV show the price is right. She worked there for seven years until she got pregnant and went on maternity leave. When she tried to return to the show after delivery she was let go by the show. Shew sued the show and the entertainment company and won the suit for a whopping 7.7 million dollars in damages. The Show claimed that they were satisfied with the 5 models that they had left and found that they no longer needed Brandi. I find this interesting because she had been there for so long. It sounds farfetched to me that after seven years they just decided they didn’t really need her. I think that 7.7 million dollars is going overboard just a bit though. Anyways in my experience I have seen women be fired during their maternity leave. I ask myself how can they get away with that? Also my wife recently had a baby, they baby is now three months old, and she is on extended disability because of back problems caused by the pregnancy and previous car accidents. I witnessed her bosses attitude towards her almost overnight after she started her maternity leave. To this day we worry weather he will fire her at any moment, an we ask ourselves, what can we do? So I guess my opinion on this case is a bit biased because of my recent experience, but I do side with Brandi Cochran on this issue.
Here is yet another bizarre worker’s compensation case. In November of 2007, Brock Hopkins went to work at Great Bear Adventure Park in Montana. Prior to Staring work, Hopkins smoked marijuana. It was unclear wether Brock was asked by Russell Kilpatrick to fee the bears in the bear pens. However, Brock did feed the bears and somehow ended up in the bear pen where he was attached by a bear. He managed to escape but suffered serious injuries to his legs and knees. Kilpatrick took him to get medical attention. The issues that the court had to decide was wether Hopkins was in fact an employee of Kilpatrick, and wether the marijuana usage had anything to do with the accident. Kilpatrick stated that Hopkins was a volunteer at the park. However evidence showed that kilpatrick payed Hopkins for his services in cash. Including $300 dollars which he gave him at the hospital the day of the attack. The court decided that, because he was being compensated for his services, he was indeed an employee. The court also decided that the marijuana had nothing to do with the bear attack, because bears will attack anyone without regard to age, race, religion, or marijuana usage. This case is a classic, yet bizarre and horrific, example of employers who try to get away with not paying for workers compensation insurance and other employment related taxes. The employer payed Hopkins in cash and considered him a volunteer. However under the law, even cash for services can be considered employment. Although I don’t condone the use of drugs, and I agree that marijuana can alter your state of mind. I agree with the judges decision in this case.
The Costa Concordia accident is still pretty fresh on everyones mind. In January 2013, Captain Francesco Schettino navigated the Costa Concordia Cruise Liner too close to the Island of GIglio off of the Italian Coast. Captain Schettino allegedly abandoned the ship before all the passengers had been rescued. He then stayed out on shore with no intent to return to the ship. 32 people died in the accident. The captain claims that he slipped and fell into a lifeboat. The captain is begin charged with man slaughter. However, Captain Schettino has his own lawsuit in the world. He is suing his employer for wrongful termination. My only question is, what does he expect to accomplish with the suit? His reputation as a captain is forever tarnished. Even if he were to get his job back , there is no sane person alive that will buy tickets to a cruisesailed by him. Lastly, out of respect for those who died because of his negligence, he should just accept his fate.
Well a blog about crazy employment lawsuits would not be complete without a sex scandal. In this Australian bureaucrat, who was not named due to privacy/legal issues, opened a worker’s compensation claim against the Australian government’s insurance carrier Comcare. In 2007 the woman was on a business trip, she stayed in a hotel, and had a sexual encounter with a male friend. During the encounter, things became quite aggressive. A lamp was pulled from the wall and struck the woman in her face. She went to the hospital for emergency services. She also later suffered from depression, and ultimately had to leave her government job due to her psychological issues. The government’s insurance company denied her claim because they said that her sexual encounter was not a normal part of a hotel stay during a business trip. A normal stay would only include bathing, sleeping, etc. The insurance company further argued that the the government had not condoned the claimants sexual actions. Ultimately the court ruled that she did indeed have a claim. The court stated that no approval of the claimants actions was needed in order to provide insurance coverage. So she did receive her work comp benefits for the physical and psychological effects of her injury. This is a case where I’m stuck in the middle. On one had I feel strongly about worker’s compensation and that employees should not have to fight for benefits, when they are due. On the other hand. The woman chose to engage in those actions on her own free will, weather she was on a business trip or not.
The actions that transpired in this case are almost too crazy to be true. Ashley Alford, of St. Louis, worked at Aaron’s, a rent to own furniture store, in Fairfield Heights Illinois. She was 20 years old when the crimes transpired. Ashley’s manager Richard Moore allegedly slapped Ashley on her forehead with his penis. In another incident Mr. Moore held Ashley down, ripped her blouse open and masturbated on her. Ashley acted smartly by saving the tissues that she used to clean herself after the incident. A DNA test later proved that it was Moore’s semen on the tissues. In another incident, Moore held Ashley’s pony tale while he placed his penis on her face. It almost seems unbelievable to me that this type of behavior can go on in todays society. Specially in a national corporation like Aaron’s and, to top it all off, by a manager. Ashley claims that her attempts to file a com plait with the corporate offices were brushed off by the sexual harassment department. the Illinois court involved granted Ashley 95 million dollars in damages after the verdict ruled in her favor. However due to federal limits on awards. She will receive less that half of that amount, which is still a huge amount. Normally I would be against lawsuits which punish companies harshly for things like this, However, in this case, I really am sickened by what went on and the fact that the company did nothing when Ashley tried to complain. I consider the amount awarded in this case as a lesson to other companies.