Minneapolis, MN

State Farm to pay on charges

December 05, 2002
Minnesota regulators cracked down on what they called illegal and unethical business practices by State Farm Insurance on Wednesday, fining the state's largest home and auto insurer $775,000 and requiring the Bloomington, Ill.-based company to change the way it does business in the state.
     State Farm did not admit wrongdoing, but agreed to settle three separate allegations brought by the state Department of Commerce, and to change some of its practices. One of the settlements is expected to reduce premiums for almost 150,000 State Farm homeowners insurance customers across the state.
     The Commerce Department alleged that State Farm pressured medical practitioners to change opinions about injuries suffered in auto accidents to reduce the cost of paying claims. The agency also alleged State Farm unfairly slapped a surcharge on homeowners insurance policies for any home over 40 years old. The Commerce Department further alleged that State Farm underpaid companies that replace auto glass. 

Employees sue hospital over alleged discrimination

November 21, 2002
Eight current and former employees of Hennepin County Medical Center said Wednesday that they have filed a discrimination lawsuit against the county, claiming that the Minneapolis hospital has made it nearly impossible for black workers to be promoted.
      During the announcement outside HCMC, they said the suit was a last resort.
      According to the lawsuit, 10 people, including two former employees, say HCMC discriminates against its black employees with "nearly insurmountable barriers" to gain job promotions.

Discrimination case could test legal doctrines

November 18, 2002
Sandy Nelson was hired on the spot when she applied for a carrier relations job in 1996 at transportation giant C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. The Chaska woman saw it as a promising start and hoped eventually to move into sales.
     Six years later, Nelson is battling depression and anger and faces an uncertain career, having left the Fortune 500 company last year.
     Nelson is one of 14 former and current female Robinson employees who claim in court papers that they were subjected to a hostile work environment, sexually harassed, underpaid and denied opportunities made available to male employees. Millions of dollars are at stake, and two experienced Minneapolis law firms are laying the groundwork for a highly charged battle. 

Lawyers, consultants: September 11 influencing jurors

January 07, 2002
Attorney John Shulman walked out of the courtroom stunned and almost speechless.
      For weeks, he had been sure that a Somali woman's allegations of brutality against Minneapolis police would prevail in trial; he had won favorable verdicts in two brutality cases that he considered less convincing, and he expected that this would be no different.
      But when a jury sent the woman home with $240 and absolved the officers, Shulman was shocked. What was the difference? In his mind, September 11 certainly didn't help.

Three professors sue over discrimination

October 18, 2001
Three professors who allege they have been denied promotions and equal pay because of anti-Semitism sued St. Cloud State University today for discrimination.
      "It's time to fix the problem. There have been decades of anti-Semitism at St. Cloud State," said Judy Schermer, a lawyer representing the professors and a non-Jewish student who joined the lawsuit.
      A university-commissioned report by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas concluded in July that the school exhibited a "strong perception" of anti-Semitism.

CBS, technicians settle sex lawsuit

October 25, 2000
CBS agreed to settle a class-action sexdiscrimination lawsuit involving about 200 women technicians for $8 million, attorneys said Wednesday. 
     The agreement, which must be approved by a federal judge, alsoincludes changes in how CBS handles job, training and overtime opportunities, saidSusan Stokes, one of the attorneys representing the women. 
     The lawsuit, filed in 1996, accused CBS of discriminating against itsfemale technical employees at television stations in Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and Green Bay, Wis. Earlier thisyear in Minnesota, U.S. District Judge Donavan Frank approved the case as a class action. 
     The women claimed they were denied assignments, promotions,overtime and training and were forced to work in a sexually hostile work environment. 

Buchanan talks on race in Minnesota

October 18, 2000
Reform Party presidential nominee Pat Buchanan said Wednesday that civil rights laws restrict freedom and that blacks fare better in America than people think.
      Delivering part history lesson and part stump speech to a University of Minnesota Law School audience, Buchanan offered blunt views on religion, trade and third-party politics. But his comments about race – during the forum and in a news conference afterward – were most provocative.
      "Civil rights laws clearly restrict the rights of individuals who are bigots, no doubt about it," Buchanan said. "They do represent the imposition of the values of the majority on the minority."
      Even so, he said, "The laws are on the books and I would not change them."

Suit: U. of Minnesota is anti-gay

June 27, 2000
A University of Minnesota employee testified that an anti-gay bias pervaded the school's athletic department, contributing to his nervous breakdown.
      Richard Marsden has filed a lawsuit and has accused the athletic department of salary discrimination and fostering an atmosphere in which anti-gay jokes and inappropriate grabbing were tolerated.
      He testified Monday that the misconduct happened between 1993 and 1997, and his requests to top department officials to improve the climate were ignored. Marsden said he had a nervous breakdown in 1997.
      He is seeking at least $50,000 in back pay and other fees, as well as an injunction preventing similar behavior. He now works at the university as an assistant adviser in the Intercollege Program, which pays $20,000 less than his former job.

Illegal immigrants win suit but face deportation

January 13, 2000
For nine Holiday Inn Express housekeepers from Mexico, U.S. law cuts both ways. 
     They helped unionize their fellow housekeepers at the hotel in downtown Minneapolis. Soon afterward, the hotel fired them and reported them to the Immigration and Naturalization Service as illegal aliens. 
     Last week, the nine workers won a $72,000 settlement from the hotel in the first case in which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission intervened on behalf of illegal immigrants. 
     But they still are almost certain to be deported to Mexico. 

Hotel settles suit with unfairly fired illegal aliens

January 07, 2000
A Holiday Inn Express hotel has agreed to pay $72,000 to nine illegal immigrants from Mexico who were fired as housekeepers in alleged retaliation for leading a successful union organizing drive.
     The settlement was reached yesterday between Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the National Labor Relations Board.
     Jaye Rykunyk, secretary-treasurer and principal officer of Local 17 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees, said the agreement was groundbreaking.
     ``The EEOC has taken the position that undocumented workers are entitled to compensation for discrimination. It's a nationwide precedent for the EEOC,'' Rykunyk said.
     Previously, the EEOC said it had limited authority to help workers who were in the United States illegally. 


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