Monday, May 28, 2012

Do Not Post Ironic Statements That Are Only Funny To You

Do Not Post Ironic Statements That Are Only Funny To You. Do Not Post Ironic Statements That Are Only Funny To You. Do Not Post Ironic Statements That Are Only Funny To You. Do Not Post Ironic Statements That Are Only Funny To You..

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

If Sherlock Holmes Was My Consulting Detective

We just started watching Masterpiece Mystery on PBS, which is now Showing Sherlock Holmes. What a novel way to talk about cases. I am going to name of my cases, past and present, Arthur Conan Doyle style. See if you recognize yours or other cases about which I have written. These are just snippets of ten from memory.

1. The Case of the Cowardly Thieving and Vengeful Boss.

2. The Case of the Humiliated Woman Of Color Who Was Courageous Enough to Fight Back.

3. The Case of the Despicable Sexual Pervert Who Attacked Young Girls At Work.

4. The case of the greedy American and Chinese Companies Who Put Making Money Before Protecting Customers From Death and Crippling injuries.

5. The Case of the Arrogant Mayor Martied to a Controlling Wife who Put His Home Life Ahead of A Fair and Non- Dicriminatory Workplace.

6. The case of the Caucasian Employees Who Displayed Nooses in the Workplace to Intimidate the African-American Employees.

7. The Case of the Husband who had a Car Stop on His Toe. (My husband)

8. The case of the Blogger Who Believed in the First Amendment.

9. The Case off the Prosecutor who Fired Assistants She Feared to Further Her Political Career.

10. The Case of the City Who Fired the Wrong Prosecutors Based on a Judges' an Management's Whim.

Now all I need for these cases is a Sherlock Holmes.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Stamping Out LGBT Discrimination in Missouri, With a Little Creativity

Several years ago, I was approached by a transsexual who suffered severe harassment at work, and she needed my help, but I failed her.   Day after day she faithfully reported for work, stylishly dressed and made up to hear the most vial and obnoxious comments from her co-workers and supervisors.  she worked in a relatively large, conservative Missouri community for a large, national company.  As distraught as she was, and as unfair as her treatment was, I could not figure out a way to help her.

Neither Missouri nor federal employment laws prohibit discrimination based on sexual preference or gender identification.  In fact, The Daily Show on Comedy Central just ran a very funny segment on this issue, featuring a Missouri representative who seeks to make gun owners a protected class while sexual orientation is still unprotected.

Fortunately, both St. Louis and Kansas City have local ordinances banning LGBT employment discrimination, but these laws are toothless with no real enforcement provision in the ordinances.   LGBT discrimination is unfair and unjust.  In our office, we set about to creatively, yet legally combat this heinous discrimination.  Mind you, before 1964, race and sex discrimination was just hunky-dory in most workplaces.  My own mother recounts several stories in her youth when she was chased or mauled by some brutish bosses, with no remedy. When Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus, it was SHE who violated existing law.

This is how we help clients combat LGBT discrimination:

1.  We file a charge of discrimination alleging sex discrimination or sexual harassment under federal law, Title VII, or Missouri law, MHRA,since the working of the statute prohibits discrimination based on "sex" and not "gender."

2.  The the employee works or worked in Kansas City , and has complained about LGBT discrimination, we file a lawsuit for whistleblowing since it is unlawful and against public policy to discriminate according to the city ordinance. We may use other common law doctrines, admittedly creatively, to reflect modern times and mores.  This is proper because of the Kansas City ordinance, which states the public policy within the city limits. (Thank you Kansas City city council members for having the courage to pass this ordinance).

In a few years, people, or their children, are going to remember these times of LGBT harassment and discrimination with shame in their hearts.  That time is near.  I just want to prod the legal system a little to reflect what is just.  LGBT harassment and discrimination is despicable and should not be tolerated.  Hopefully, creative lawyering can help get the ball rolling.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Scourge of Confidentiality Agreements

I just finished a powerful book ""The Innocent Man" by John Grisham about two men who were innocent and convicted of murder. The book tells the story of their unjust conviction and final exoneration. I realized I met one of the two exonerees, Dennis Fritz, while I shopped in the local grocery store. He was hocking his own book and I bought a copy, had it autographed and sent it to a friend for her birthday. He lives here in Kansas City now, away from the Oklahoma courts that had him incarcerated. Now, realizing who he was after reading the Grisham book, I wish I had bought more than one copy of Mr. Fritz' book from him.

After reading the Grisham book, I hopped on the ECF system, a computer program where lawyers and others can read federal lawsuits. I found that John Grisham was sued by the prosecutor and others over the book he wrote which told the tale of unjust convictions of innocent people. I was chagrined to realize I had met the plaintiffs' lawyers, who fortunately lost. There is big business in suppressing the truth in this country.

Quite obviously, people who hurt others don't want their misdeeds made public. I feel the urge to write about so many of my cases, to let the public know what these businesses, the so-called "job-creators," really do. But, I cannot. In one case, if I divulge one company's misdeeds, even though my clients are dead, I will be made to pay $50,000. In another case, I am being required to return incriminating documents and destroy those contained on my hard-drive. I win "60 Minutes" or The New York Times could pick the brains of plaintiffs' lawyers. Maybe we would have safer products, less latent bigotry, more corporate fear of Whistleblowers and concomitant adherence to good business practices.

Money is power, and power corrupts. We live in the era of Citizens United. Big business gets more and more powerful. I respect my clients, the courageous few who risk against these Goliathes. It is daunting to fight back.

I am going to start writing fiction, short stories, maybe a novel. Fiction writers write what they know, within defamation claims or liquidated damage claims for breach of onerous confidentiality agreements. I know about a lot of rotten corporations, and I can tell you, despite what the Supreme Court says, they are not persons. They are inhuman.