X-Rated Zoom Call Incident Leads to Jeffrey Toobin’s Untimely Termination

X-Rated Zoom Call Incident Leads to Jeffrey Toobin’s Untimely Termination

Our employment attorneys in Orange County have learned that The New Yorker has terminated Jeffrey Toobin’s employment after an investigation concerning a Zoom call incident that took place last month. During the call, Toobin inadvertently exposed himself to colleagues during a break in the show. He announced his own termination on Wednesday on Twitter, and wrote that he was fired as a staff writer after having spent 27 years at The New Yorker. A spokesperson for the magazine confirmed Toobin’s statement to Variety, simply stating that Toobin was no longer affiliated with the company as a result of their investigation. 

jeffrey-toobin

CNN Screenshot

Initial Suspension After Zoom Incident

The New Yorker revealed that on October 19th, Toobin was suspended after exposing himself on a Zoom call with WNYC and some of his New Yorker colleagues. Vice’s tech news website, Motherboard, alleged that during the call Toobin was seen masturbating. Toobin made a statement to Motherboard in which he referred to the incident as “an embarrassingly stupid mistake.” He went on to apologize to his coworkers, friends, family and wife, stating that he thought he was off-camera, and therefore not visible or audible to anyone.

Statements Made to VICE

Two individuals on the call made separate statements to VICE, stating that the call was a simulation of the election, and featured some of The New Yorker’s biggest stars: establishment Republicans were played by Jane Mayer, Joe Biden was played by Evan Osnos, Masha Gessen played Donald Trump, Jelani Cobb played establishment Democrats, Sue Halpern was left wing democrats and Andrew Marantz played the far right. The military was played by Dexter Filkins and Jeffrey Toobin played the courts. Also on the call were several other producers from WNYC and The New Yorker. 

Both individuals who spoke to VICE did so under the condition of anonymity, and it was unclear how much was visible to each person, but both said that it was obvious to them that Toobin was masturbating. It occurred at a juncture in the election simulation during which a strategy session was underway. The “Republicans and the Democrats” dispersed to their respective rooms for approximately ten minutes. They said at this point it appeared as if Toobin was on another video call and that when the groups returned from their break out rooms, he could be seen touching himself. 

Following this incident Toobin left the call, then a few minutes later called back in, but seemed entirely unaware of what had been visible to his co-workers in the meantime. The group then continued with the simulation. On the 19th of October, Natalie Raabe–a spokesperson for The New Yorker–said that Jeffrey Toobin was suspended, and that the matter was being investigated. It is not clear whether or not the incident was directly referred to as sexual misconduct by anyone at The New Yorker, but not all comments were made public.

Career Highlights

Toobin wrote “The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson” in 1996, which was eventually adapted by FX to become part of “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” a true-crime series. Toobin is also a chief legal analyst for the cable news channel, CNN. Following the incident, he was granted time off and took a leave of absence. His status at CNN is not yet clear. CNN simply stated that they had approved his request for time off “to deal with a personal issue.”

A source told Motherboard that WNYC instructed staffers to refrain from booking Toobin on its shows or allowing him to work in any other professional capacity with the network. However, WNYC declined to comment, as did Kritsitne Dahl, the latter of whom is Tobin’s literary agent. No sexual harassment charges have been filed and it is not yet clear if Toobin will seek the advice of employment attorneys.

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Fox News and Ed Henry

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Fox News and Ed Henry

Lawsuit Filed Against Ed Henry Alleges Sexual Assault and Harassment

Ed Henry from Fox News

According to employment attorneys in Orange County, a sexual harassment lawsuit was filed in federal court on Monday against former Fox News anchor, Ed Henry. The suit was filed by a woman previously employed by Fox News, along with a frequent guest of the network. The cable news outlet fired Henry earlier this month after receiving the complaint about his alleged willful sexual misconduct.

Multiple Defendants Named in Suit

Tucker and Hanity

Jennifer Eckhart, a plaintiff in the case, accused Henry of sexual assault, alleging that she was forced to have sex with him against her will in a hotel room. Cathy Areu, the other plaintiff, stated in the filing that sexually graphic messages and photos were sent to her by Henry. The case was filed in Federal Court in the Southern District of New York.

The sexual harassment lawsuit also names some of the most famous anchors of the cable news outlet as defendants, including Howard Kurtz, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and a Fox News contributor, Gianno Caldwell. Fox News hired an outside law firm that reportedly interviewed multiple eyewitnesses, managers, and the aforementioned hosts. The firm stated that Areu’s claims were utterly devoid of merit.

Attorney for Henry Alleges that Relationship was Consensual

Sexual harassment attorneys for Henry claim the relationship between Henry and Eckhart was consensual. Catherine Foti, an attorney for Henry, said that the defendant looks forward to offering evidence and facts to contradict the plaintiff’s allegations. Foti claims part of the evidence that will be presented includes aggressively suggestive communications and graphic photos sent from Eckhart to Henry, rather than the other way around.

Fox News executives have stated that a thorough investigation was conducted after an initial complaint was made on June 25th by a former employee about Henry’s behavior in the past. Fox News President, Jay Wallace, and Fox News Media CEO, Suzanne Scott, said that Henry was suspended the day the complaint was filed, and then ultimately terminated on July 1st, based on the findings of the investigation. Both executives said that complaints of sexual misconduct or harassment are regarded very seriously by the news outlet, and swift action was taken as soon as the problem was brought to their attention.

Fox News no Stranger to Accusations of Harassment in the Workplace

harassment lawsuit against Fox news

In 2016, the cable news station had to confront a series of embarrassing and frequently sordid lawsuits after firing Roger Ailes, its former CEO who allegedly harassed numerous female staff members and other individuals throughout his television career. Ailes denied every charge made against him, including the high-profile case brought by Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson. This lawsuit ignited extensive conflict between Fox News and its parent company.  Roger Ailes died in 2017.

Plaintiffs Eckhart and Areu are seeking damages in a jury trial, but the trial date has not yet been scheduled. Anyone being victimized by sexual harassment or being unjustly accused of such behavior should seek the advice of an employment attorney in Orange County without delay.

 

 

Should Furloughed Employees Be Paid Accrued Vacation Time Under California Law?

Should Furloughed Employees Be Paid Accrued Vacation Time Under California Law?

May families are struggling financially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.  With California’s jobless claims reaching historic levels and many employees finding it difficult to submit unemployment claims with the state’s Employment Development Department, many are California’s are wondering how to pay their bills or buy groceries.  Employees who have been furloughed or laid off with no definitive date of return in the foreseeable future should be aware of their rights with respect to their accrued and unused vacation or Paid Time Off (PTO) time.

Under California law, accrued vacation and PTO, is considered a vested wage that belongs to the employee and business closed signshould be paid out at the time of termination, be it voluntary or involuntary, such as in connection with a furlough or layoff.  An employee’s right to vacation and PTO is a long established California principle under Suastez v. Plastic Dress Up, where the California Supreme Court held vacation (PTO) accrues as it is earned and cannot be forfeited upon termination, regardless if the termination is voluntary or involuntary.   Suastez v. Plastic Dress Up (1982) 31 Cal. 3d 774.

Similarly,  California Labor Code Section 227.3 states that, unless otherwise provided for by a collective bargaining agreement, if an employer has a vacation or PTO policy that provides for paid vacation, all earned and unused vacation/PTO must be paid to the employee upon termination at his or her final rate of pay.

Many employees then ask themselves, is my furlough or layoff a termination?  Many may view their employment as continuing and they hope their employer will recall them, but they have been given no definitive date of return.  California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, commonly referred to as the Labor Commissioner’s Office, has long taken the position that “if an employee is laid off without a specific return date within the normal pay period, the wages earned to and including the lay off date are due and payable in accordance with Section 201.”   DLSE Opinion Letter, May 30, 1996.   

Accordingly, employees who have been furloughed or laid off and do not have a definitive date of return within the normal pay period should be paid their accrued and unused vacation or PTO at the time of furlough or layoff.  Employees who have not received their unused vacation or PTO in these instances should consider consulting with an employment attorney about their rights.  In addition to payment of their vacation and PTO, employees may also be entitled to certain penalties for the delay in receiving their final wages.

The attorneys at Ares Law Group, P.C. have extensive experiencing representing employees with wage and hour claims.  What sets Ares Law Group, P.C. apart from other firms is its experience.  The partners at Ares Law Group, P.C. Matt D’Abusco and Cynthia Sandoval, have been practicing employment law and litigation a collective 30 years.  Prior to founding Ares Law Group, Mr. D’Abusco and Ms. Sandoval worked at a renowned and prestigious nationwide labor and employment firms representing a variety of employers, from small family owned businesses to Fortune 100 companies. As a result of this experience, Ares Law Group attorneys bring a unique perspective to each case as they understand opposing counsels’ perspective and approach defending cases, which is invaluable to Ares Law Group’s clients.

.

US Women’s Soccer Team Surprised by Equal Pay Ruling

US Women’s Soccer Team Surprised by Equal Pay Ruling

On May 1st, 2020, Judge R. Gary Klausner of the Federal District Court in Los Angeles, granted summary judgment to U.S. Soccer, essentially dismissing several of the highly publicized claims central to the lawsuit in which the United States Women’s National Soccer Team alleged they were not compensated fairly in comparison to the Men’s National Soccer Team.  All that remains now are the Women’s National Soccer Teams’ claims for discriminatory working conditions in terms of travel conditions and personnel and support services, such as medical and training support.

us women's soccer team

Despite this ruling, players Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan have stated in no uncertain terms that they are not giving up and they are not going away. Rapinoe and Morgan, who appeared on ABC from separate locations on the Good Morning America show yesterday, expressed disappointment and surprise concerning the equal pay ruling. Morgan referred to the decision as “out of left field,” and stated that they have moved forward with an appeal.

Judge Klausner’s Ruling

Employment attorneys in Orange County who have been following the case noted Judge Klausner found the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team failed to prove their case of wage discrimination under the Equal Pay Act. Judge Klausner went on to say that simply comparing what the teams would have made under each other’s collective bargaining uch

Klausner stated the women were essentially asking the Courts to conclude that they were paid less than the men because if the women had been paid according to the men’s CBA, their earnings would have been much higher.

Rapinoe and Morgan Fire Back at Klausner’s Decision

Rapinoe stated that she believed Judge Klausner was inferring that the female players simply wanted to switch to the men’s CBA after the fact because, the women would have earned more under the men’s CBA. Rapinoe, however, pointed out that the women were not offered the men’s CBA and the CBA they negotiated for and agreed to was the most that they would have been given. She also said she believes many female athletes feel this frustration when they go into a negotiation; realizing that equal pay or anything close to what their male counterparts receive is not on the table and that this is what should be changed. The Women’s team further argued that it was not the contract, but rather the amount of pay, that was at the heart of their claims.

US Men’s National Team Players Association Supports Lawsuit by Women’s Team.

Yesterday, a statement appeared on the US Men’s National Team Players Associations website supporting the actions of their female counterparts. One section of the statement said they received the news that the female players were planning an appeal on Klausner’s decision and that they had their full support in doing so.

According to our employment attorneys, a trial date for the remaining claims of discriminatory working conditions is scheduled for June 16, 2020. The Women’s National Soccer Team may appeal the ruling once there is a final judgment.

 

Female Firefighter Alleges Gender-Based Wrongful Termination

Female Firefighter Alleges Gender-Based Wrongful Termination

Female Firefighter Alleges Gender-Based Wrongful TerminationPresley Pritchard

Our employment attorneys have learned that a female firefighter has taken legal action against her former employer, alleging she was fired because of her Instagram photos.

Presley Pritchard was employed by the Kalispell, Montana Evergreen Fire Rescue until 2019, when she said she was relieved of her duties after being overtly targeted because of her appearance. She stated that this included how she looked in certain apparel, such as gym attire, amid other factors related to her presence on various social media platforms. According to the Daily Inter Lake, a wrongful termination lawsuit has now been filed by Pritchard, in which she alleges she was a victim of gender discrimination.

Pritchard Accuses Employer of Wrongful Termination

The lawsuit states Pritchard’s status as a fitness influencer caused her to be unfairly singled out by her employer. Twenty-seven-year-old Pritchard has approximately 100,000 Instagram followers. This is the social media platform on which she usually shares videos and pictures of her workout routines, as well as uplifting messages for other individuals interested in physical fitness. She also does a bit of promotion for several wellness brands with which she has partnerships.

Pritchard maintains that her online presence was entirely separate from her job, but it created issues as far back as 2018, when Evergreen Fire District Board member Jack Fallon voiced concerns about her account.

It was at that point that Pritchard said she began getting called in for “everything” and felt like she was continuously “walking on eggshells.”

According to Vice.com, the former firefighter claims she was reprimanded approximately 20 times for issues associated with her social media accounts, including photos she posted and the attire she wore when headed to the gym. Although the majority of Pritchard’s photos show her in workout clothes, she also posted pictures of herself in bathing suits, shooting guns, promoting products, and also posing with other people.

Female Firefighter Alleges She Was Issued Men’s Uniform Pants

Pritchard claims she was issued men’s uniform pants and at one point said, “Am I supposed to leave my butt at home?” She stated that she showed Vice numerous pictures of male firefighters posing shirtless on similar sites and pointed out that they were from the same department, highlighting what she believes was gender discrimination. She also told Vice she thought the double standard favoring males was hypocritical.

The former firefighter stated that she was ultimately fired following a request from her supervisors to remove various pictures of herself in her work uniform. They purportedly told her that the pictures blurred the line between her personal brand and her employment. Pritchard said that an attorney told her it was not necessary to remove the pictures, as there was no social media policy set forth by her department at the time of her employment.

Nevertheless, Pritchard maintained she was terminated for refusing to remove the photos. The lawsuit was filed in December and cited wrongful termination due to gender discrimination and a double standard that favored men. According to the most recent data from the National Fire Protection Association, NFPA, only 7% of all firefighters are female.

According to our employment attorneys in Orange County, Pritchard’s lawsuit is still underway and her case is under review by a state investigator. She has been able to apply for unemployment in the meantime.