NY Mets GM Fired For Sexually Harassing Texts

NY Mets GM Fired For Sexually Harassing Texts

After Confessing to Harassing Texts, Jared Porter is Fired as Mets GM

Employment attorneys in Orange County have learned that on Monday night, Jared Porter, the newly hired General Manager of the New York Mets, confessed to sending explicit, harassing texts to a female reporter in 2016. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan and Mina Kimes, who first broke the story, the incidents took place when Porter was the Director of Professional Scouting for the Chicago Cubs in 2016. Only hours after Porter admitted to sending the texts, Steve Cohen, the Mets’ new owner, fired him. The woman, who may have already sought the advice of sexual harassment attorneys, has communicated with ESPN on the basis of anonymity.

Jared Porter NY Mets

Photo by World News

Allegations of Multiple Inappropriate Text Messages and Pictures

The woman claims Porter sent in excess of 60 texts that she did not answer. She alleges these texts commenced with a lewd picture of a man’s erection. Forty-one-year-old Porter claimed that the explicit picture was not a selfie, but rather a stock image that was more or less meant as a joke. However, he had initially denied sending the female reporter any photos at all when he was first questioned by ESPN.

Porter Fired Tuesday Morning

The decision of the Mets to fire Porter was announced in a tweet early Tuesday morning. The Cubs and the Mets denied having any knowledge of the incident until Monday evening. A statement issued Tuesday morning by Mets’ president Sandy Alderson said that Porter’s conduct regarding the texts didn’t meet the Mets’ standards for personal conduct and professionalism.

Jared Porter Mets Response

First Meeting Leads to a Flurry of Sexual Texts

Porter met the woman in June 2016 in an elevator at Yankee Stadium, after she had moved to the U.S. to cover Major League Baseball as a foreign correspondent. The initial encounter is said to have been brief, although contact information was exchanged.  Later that afternoon, Porter allegedly began texting the woman and asked her three different times to have a drink with him that night. She reported to ESPN that she agreed because she believed Porter was volunteering himself as a source of information about baseball and did not think the meeting would be personal. Nevertheless, she eventually canceled drinks that night and asked if they could instead meet the following day.

Jared Porter Harassment Selfie ESPN

Photo by ESPN

Female Reporter Cuts off Communication After Receiving Sexual Texts

Porter continued to text her, asking if she was involved with anyone and sending her an unsolicited selfie which contained the text “Like?” The woman did not respond to the text. At one point, Porter asked the woman to send him a picture of herself in return. She said that because this is a common practice in her country, she felt obliged to send the selfie. Porter send her three additional pictures; one appeared to be a photo of his crotch with an obvious bulge indicating an erection. The woman claimed she then cut off communication with Porter after receiving these final texts.

Jared Porter InsideExpress

Photo by InsideExpress

Over the next several weeks, Porter reportedly sent multiple photos and approximately 62 unanswered texts to the woman. In one text, sent when they were both at Wrigley Field, he remarked about how beautiful she was. She claimed that the text made her panic and motivated her to hide from Porter.

Porter then texted her requesting that she meet him at a Los Angeles hotel. He allegedly sent her a series of texts the following day as well, including 17 photos, one of which was a nude, erect penis. According to ESPN, the woman eventually showed some of the messages and sexual photos to a player from her home country, who urged her to tell Porter to stop and assisted her with a written response. It is unclear if the woman is currently represented by sexual-harassment lawyers.

Mets President Response

Can sexual harassment exist of the perpetrator and the victim are not coworkers?

Under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), which is often broader than federal law, harassers can consist of employers, labor organizations, employment agencies, apprenticeship training programs, any training programs leading to employment, or any person.  Victims of harassment can include employees, applicants, unpaid interns or volunteers, or persons providing services pursuant to a contract.  Organizations, such as the Mets, often have a zero-tolerance policy with respect to sexual harassment, in particular for leaders at the highest levels of the company.

If you believe you have been sexually harassed in the workplace, please call one of our employment attorneys at 949-629-2519, or fill out the form on the contact page.

Source Article: Yahoo! News

Lack of “Cultural Fit” Cited as Reason for Amy Palcic’s Termination from Texans

Lack of “Cultural Fit” Cited as Reason for Amy Palcic’s Termination from Texans

Employment attorneys in Orange County are following the story of the termination of Amy Palcic, the former Vice President of Communications for the NFL’s Houston Texans. Palcic referred to her termination as “humiliating,” and this is only the latest in a series of baffling moves made by The Texans, who are becoming known for off and on abrupt changes, as exemplified by the firing of Palcic.

Franchise Altering Moves Made Since October

ESPN’s Adam Schefter said the Texans terminated Palcic for a lack of “cultural fit.” It may not come as a surprise to some people, however, as the Texans have made headlines for a series of franchise altering moves since October. The most notable of these was the alarming lack of return on a trade for DeAndre Hopkins, an All-Pro receiver. This move, among other head scratching decisions lead to the termination of longtime general manager and coach Bill O’Brien just four games into the current season.  While the termination itself was somewhat expected, the Texans again surprised the sports world with its timing.

Texans-Amy-Palcic

Photo Credit – New York Post

Palcic Seeks Legal Advice

Palcic has hired Joseph Ahmad, a lawyer in Houston who has made only one statement so far, in which he confirmed that Palcic retained his services. Many employment attorneys specialize in wrongful termination, gender discrimination, and similar work-related issues that involve unethical or illegal action by a person’s employer.

Ahmad is a lawyer to many executives and has tried numerous cases involving employment issues and breach-of-employment contracts. Palcic may indeed have a contract that was breached. She may also have engaged in protected activity, such as voicing concerns about specific comments made in the workplace by management or raising objections about certain practices which could lead to claims of retaliation.

Regardless of the legal theory, the case could ultimately hinge on whether or not he could poke holes in the “cultural fit” explanation given by the Texans. In other words, if the stated reason for Palcic’s termination can be proven incorrect or baseless, it would suggest that it was merely a cover for a different reason that is in violation of the law.

In the days before her firing, Palcic re-tweeted criticism of members of Donald Trump’s staff and tweeted her support of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, but there is no direct evidence that Palcic was fired because of these actions.

As legal matters go, the termination of the former VP of communications may not be a case for discrimination attorneys and may not be actionable, depending on a broad range of circumstances. It could possibly be disregarded as an inconsequential, organizational change, but all this remains to be seen. Either way, few would argue that Palcic was loved and respected by many of her colleagues, and that the Texans may once again be cast in a terrible light for this decision.

Amy Palcic  Texans

Photo by ClutchPoints

Achievements and Recognition 

In 2017, Palcic won the Pete Rozelle Award, bestowed by the Pro Football Writers of America. Her staff won the 2017 Rozelle Award as well, which is given to the best public relations team in the NFL. In 2019, Palcic was named as one of Houston Business Journal’s “Women Who Mean Business” and included on the WISE “Women of Inspiration” list. WISE is an acronym for the organization “Women in Sports and Events.”  Many predict Palcic will land on her feet, regardless of how her story with the Texans ultimately ends.

 

Controversy Surrounds Ellen DeGeneres as She Kicks Off Her Show’s Eighteenth Season

Controversy Surrounds Ellen DeGeneres as She Kicks Off Her Show’s Eighteenth Season

For several months, the Ellen DeGeneres Show–named after its host–has been steeped in controversy. Our employment attorneys in Orange County can confirm that troubling reports have emerged concerning sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as claims of racial insensitivity and intimidation involving some of the show’s staffers. DeGeneres, who is 62, apologized twice to employees for the toxic work environment and said that some employees had been let go. However, an investigation is ongoing, as she was accused of fostering that very environment. Seeking the advice of an employment attorney is typically recommended if one plans to bring such allegations. With regard to the Ellen DeGeneres Show, however, three senior staffers are no longer with the show. Recently, in front of a virtual audience, the talk show host addressed the situation.

Ellen Degeneres talks about sexual harassment

DeGeneres Expresses Regret and Speaks of Necessary Changes

In a candid monologue, DeGeneres acknowledged that things took place that never should have occurred, and she expressed her remorse to those who were affected. She made reference to her position of power and privilege, stating that such a position also comes with responsibility, which she indicated she was willing to bear. DeGeneres went on to say that numerous conversations took place in the recent past between herself and staff members, and that necessary changes were made.

The talk show host spoke of emerging as the “Be Kind Lady,” calling it a “tricky position to be in.” She received this nickname following the suicide of Tyler Clementi, who took his life in 2010 after being bullied in college for being gay. DeGeneres responded to the suicide with a strong message about the need to stop bullying of all kinds. The talk show host confirmed that although she is the kind person seen on television by her fans, she is also like everyone else in the sense that she gets impatient, anxious, frustrated, angry or sad from time to time. She referred to herself as “a work in progress,” during the virtual speech.

An Opportunity to Learn

DeGeneres spoke about how she initially got into show business to make people feel good and laugh. She said she wants her 270 employees to be proud and happy to work with her for this reason. DeGeneres also indicated that she was very sorry if she ever hurt someone’s feelings, and that if she did, she let herself down as well as that person. Later, she referred to such incidents as opportunities to learn.

DeGeneres said that despite the Black Lives Matter protests and the coronavirus pandemic, she still wants her show to be a daily hour of joy and was committed to making it the best season yet, despite the new controversy surrounding it. People Magazine reported that Portia de Rossi, DeGeneres’s wife, was backstage to show her support during the premiere and that DeGeneres received applause from her crew  as she walked off the set following the taping of the announcement.

It is unclear whether or not those who are no longer with the show are pursuing legal actions.  They may choose to seek legal advice from an employment attorney if this is the case.

 

 

Do I have any Recall Rights if My Employer is Bringing Laid Off Employees Back to Work?

Do I have any Recall Rights if My Employer is Bringing Laid Off Employees Back to Work?

As employers continue to try to adjust to the ever-changing economic realities brought on by COVID-19, some are now in a position to bring employees back who were previously laid off or furloughed.  Some of these laid off workers may have recall rights, which will depend on factors such as: where they worked and their industry.  Los Angeles City and County and Long Beach have enacted local Ordinances that encompass recall rights for certain laid off workers.

Covered Employers

The Ordinances only apply to certain covered employers.  Under the Los Angeles City Ordinance, certain airport employers and businesses, commercial property employers, event center employers and hotel employers are required to offer recall rights.  The Los Angeles County and Long Beach Ordinances only apply to certain commercial property and hotel employers.

Covered Employees

Under all three Ordinances, the laid off worker must also meet certain requirements to qualify for recall rights.  The laid off worker must have: (1) worked within the required geographic areas; (2) worked the requisite length of service of six (6) months or more; and (3) been separated from employment due to lack of business, a reduction in force or other economic reasons not related to discipline on or after March 4, 2020.

Recall Rights

Assuming the requirements are met to fall under one of the recall Ordinances, laid off workers are entitled to written notification of any position which becomes available for which the employee is qualified under most circumstances.  Upon receiving this notice, the laid of worker has five (5) business days to either accept or decline the offer of re-employment.  It is also important to note under the Ordinances, laid off workers are considered qualified for the position if they: (1) held the same or similar position prior to being laid off, or (2) is or can be qualified for a position with the same training that would be provided to a new hire into that position.  Accordingly, the recall rights outlined in these Ordinances are broader than simply a reinstatement to a laid off worker’s previously held position.

Union employees may not be entitled to these benefits depending on certain terms outlined in their Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Also, the Ordinances do not cover managers, supervisors or confidential employees.

Types of Notice

Laid off workers who believe they may fall under one of the Ordinances should pay special attention to their mail, email and text messages as the Ordinances allow covered employers to provide the requisite written notice to the laid off workers’ last known mailing address, email or text number.

The Ordinances also prohibit retaliation against any worker seeking to enforce or otherwise asserting their rights under the Ordinances or for participating in proceedings related to the Ordinances.

Employees who believe their rights as outlined under these Ordinances have been violated should speak with an employment attorney as all of the Ordinances provide laid off workers with the right to file a civil action seeking damages including monetary damages, reinstatement and punitive damages, after meeting certain preliminary notice requirements.

 

Uber’s Indebtedness for $650 million to the State of New Jersey

Uber’s Indebtedness for $650 million to the State of New Jersey

Uber Technologies Inc. is indebted to the State of New Jersey for approximately $650 million for disability and unemployment insurance taxes. The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Uber Misclassified EmployeesDevelopment said that the money owed is based on Uber’s misclassification of employees as independent contractors.

Uber, along with its subsidiary, Rasier LLC, was given a past-due tax assessment of $523 million, which covers taxes from 2015 to the present. According to additional documents, the rideshare companies may also be obligated to pay up to $119 million in penalties and interest on the four-year-long tax bill.

Uber Challenges State Labor Department

Uber spokesperson Alix Anfang told Bloomberg Law that this determination was incorrect and that the companies are planning to fight it because in New Jersey, and elsewhere, drivers are independent contractors.

At this point, New Jersey’s determination is limited to disability and unemployment insurance; however, it could also mean that eventually rideshare drivers would have to be paid at the state’s minimum wage rate and receive applicable overtime pay. According to Bloomberg Intelligence, if companies such as Lyft and Uber are forced to recategorize their drivers as employees, the cost of rides could increase by over 20 percent.

Lobbying in New York and California

These controversies mark the most recent attacks on the business model for rideshare companies, virtually all of which treat drivers as independent contractors, not employees. When working as self-employed contractors, individuals do not qualify for certain benefits, such as the aforementioned disability and unemployment insurance. Lyft and Uber have now pledged $30 million apiece to challenge new legislation in California that is expected to force such companies to recognize drivers as employees. Additionally, lawmakers in New York are preparing for a similar battle after the New Year.

California has effectively legislated to force Uber and Lyft to classify drivers as employees rather than independent contractors.  This will undoubtedly be a hotly contested issue in the California Court system until, more likely than not, the California Supreme Court has the final say.

Audit Launched Among Uber Drivers

The New Jersey Labor Department dispatched surveys to drivers working for Uber and Lyft over the past year, requesting information concerning their tax status and classification. Each year, the Labor Department audits approximately one percent of employers to screen for possible misclassification of workers.

As of Oct. 23, 2019, the State of New Jersey has discovered that 65 drivers who declared Lyft, Uber, or Rasier as their employer on claim forms are actually company employees, and therefore eligible to apply for various unemployment benefits.

No Action Planned at the Federal Level

The National Labor Relations Board and Federal Labor Department recently stated they are unlikely to pursue the rideshare companies for alleged misclassification. The decision was based on their opinion that contractors at an unnamed “virtual marketplace” are not employees because the business simply acts as a referral to link entrepreneurs with various opportunities. The Federal Labor Department said that this means Uber drivers are therefore independent contractors, thus excluding them from unemployment insurance, union benefits, and disability insurance.

However, the State of New Jersey requires a business to demonstrate that it does not control the work completed by the independent contractor and that the services provided are outside the scope of the company’s “usual course” of business. Otherwise, the drivers are considered employees by the state.

According to Bloomberg Law, certain New Jersey drivers said they prefer the flexibility of remaining independent contractors, as this means they can choose where and when to work. Worker advocates, on the other hand, are holding fast to their position that rideshare company owners are skirting their basic responsibilities by classifying such drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.

Uber fell to $25.99 per share, a decline of 2.7 percent, once the news of the disputed tax bill became public. Lyft’s shares fell 3.2 percent around the same time. As of December 2019, it is unclear whether a hearing has been scheduled, and it is also not known if Uber has paid any part of the tax bill that the State of New Jersey is demanding.

If you think you are being misclassified as an employee or independent contractor, call one of our employment attorneys in Orange County at Ares Law Group. Our number is 949-629-2519 and we would be happy to give you a free consultation regarding your situation.