Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Monkey Business

The Gorilla Foundation in San Francisco recently settled claims by two former employees, Nancy Alperin and Kendra Keller, who were allegedly sexual harassed when forced to show a gorilla their bare breasts.

Apparently, the foundation president Francine Patterson interpreted the sign language of Koko the gorilla and determined that Koko was curious about the breasts and nipples of Alperin and Keller. The plaintiffs claimed that Patterson told them that "if [they] did not indulge Koko's nipple fetish, their employment with the Gorilla Foundation would suffer."

The plaintiffs believed that they were never informed prior to accepting their job offers that they would be required to take off their clothes to bond in a more personal way with Koko.

Both women claimed they refused to show Koko their nipples.

The Gorilla Foundation had denied that Patterson ever translated Koko's communications into sexual requests: "There are no allegations that Dr. Patterson's translations were sexual advances of any type, that the statements involved 'sex,' or that they resulted in any adverse consequences to Keller or Alperin," its response said. "There are no facts suggesting any discrimination based on conduct of a sexual nature."

Alperin and Keller asked for more than $1 million in damages in their sexual discrimination and wrongful termination suit. However, attorneys on both sides declined to comment on the terms of the settlement agreement.

Incidentally, Koko's first words, "eat," "drink" and "more," evolved into a vocabulary of some 1,000 signs, including such abstract concepts as "love," "jealous," and "shame." Koko actually had a live inter-species internet chat in 1998.

"If the pink slip doesn't fit,
get redressed!"
Click to see my wardrobe of remedies.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Shuttling back and forth

Have you ever wondered whether you should be compensated for your travel time to and from work because, well, you're being forced to travel? A man named Bobby Overton attempted to be compensated by his employer for his travel time, and lost! He claimed that Disney should compensate its employees for the required mile long journey on the shuttle headed to the Happiest Place on Earth.

Of course, the Court was quick to point out that the shuttle was not the only way Disney employees could get to work. For example, some employees arrived in buses, some in trains, some were dropped off by friends and family, and some came in vanpools. The fact that these individuals did not take the shuttle indicated that the shuttle was not required.

The Court distinguished Overton's case from a claim brought by certain agricultural employees who were forced by their employer to park and group at the Disneyland parking lot, travel in the Disneyland shuttle that the employer paid for, and arrive at the fields where they worked. In this case, the employees were forced to take the shuttle by their employer, were subject to the control of the employer, and thus had to be compensated for their shuttle ride.

Overton's ingenuous solution of moving the time clock from the main entrance to the shuttle departure area in the Disneyland parking lot did not sit well with the Court. The Court noted that many employees could take advantage of this solution by walking (very slowly) to work instead of taking the shuttle, or having a hearty meal in between punching in and showing up for work. Also, with this solution, Disney would have to redirect employees who took other forms of transportation to the parking lot just so that they could punch in! Obviously, the Court decided not to force Disney to take such drastic measures and instead slapped Overton with the costs of Disney's appeal.

"If the pink slip doesn't fit,
get redressed!"
Click to see my wardrobe of remedies.