Thursday, October 30, 2008

HR Fought The Law, and The Law Won?

This is a rough week to be working in Human Resources, especially if you are involved in any kind of litigation.

Several sources reported on the group of former Human Resources Managers from Dell who are suing the computer company, alleging gender and age discrimination. Fox news out of Austin reports here.

According to Fox, lawyers for the women filed the lawsuit today in federal court in San Francisco, asking a judge to turn it into a class action covering thousands of former and current workers at Round Rock-based Dell.

The suit alleges that Dell pays their male employees men higher wages for equal work. It also accuses Dell of failing to fairly promote women to higher positions. According to allegations from the lawsuit, there are no women in the company's highest tier of executives. One plaintiff women also alleges Dell knowingly laid off older workers during heavy job cuts in 2007.

A Dell spokesperson called the lawsuit "without merit" and said the company doesn't tolerate discrimination in any form.

In other bad news, a press release from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reports that a Human Resources Supervisor from meat packer Agriprocessors, Inc. of Postville Iowa has plead guilty to harboring illegal aliens and aggravated identity theft. U.S. Attorney Matt M. Dummermuth, Northern District of Iowa, announced the plea, which resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Laura Louise Althouse, 38, of Postville, Iowa, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and one count of aggravated identity theft. Althouse faces a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison and a possible maximum sentence of 12 years in prison, a $500,000 fine, $200 in special assessments, and four years of supervised release.

According to documents filed in federal court, Althouse conspired with others to harbor illegal aliens at her place of employment in Postville. The documents state that she harbored the aliens for commercial advantage and private financial gain. The Information also states Althouse possessed and used, without lawful authority, a resident alien number that was assigned to another person in committing the harboring offense.

Sentencing before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Linda R. Reade will be set after a presentence report is prepared. Althouse remains free on bond pending sentencing.

Althouse and other members of Agriprocessors management have been charged with a multitude of Federal and state charges arising out of the raid which took place at the Agriprocessors facility in Postville on May 12, 2008. At that time, the raid was the largest raid ever conducted in the United States.

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