Lawsuits Can Bring Vindication For Both Parties

Rick knew the internet world very well. He had worked on the East Coast as a systems engineer before a disease caused the loss of his eyesight. With the aid of larger typeface and other tools, he could function pretty well despite his diminished eye sight. Rick used a walking cane and relied on public transportation. 

Rick was no quitter. He formed a successful non-profit providing online medicaid related services to persons with disabilities. He was earning a decent living - no small feat for a person "legally blind." Then, Sammy Cook came calling.  Sammy was a sports legend in his home state.  Sammy scored the winning touchdown in the 1984 Sugar Bowl.  Sammy also had a successful business hosting websites. Sammy asked Rick if he would come work for him and help him integrate his websites. Sammy offered to double Rick's pay.  Rick accepted the offer of higher pay. 

The new job went well for Rick, at first.  Sammy had a lot of "country-boy"charm. They teased each other.  After Rick had worked for Sammy for a few months, however, the general teasing became specific teasing - about Rick's disability. Everyone loved Sammy. Sammy chatted with everyone.  He was successful, but never acted like he was. At first, Rick did not understand the jokes.  He was surprised by them.  One day, Sammy took his cane and pretended to be blind.  Rick told him to stop. But, Sammy did not seem to hear the man's concern. He did not notice that Rick was not smiling. 

Sammy took Rick to the Governor's mansion to meet the governor. "Here's Rick, my token blind guy," he would say. Rick tried to tell him he should not do that.  But, Sammy just did not hear him.  Rick was concerned. He had moved to the Southeast to work closer with Sammy's staff.  Now, he was dependent on Sammy for many things. Rick had to wave a sign to catch the right bus to work.  Without Sammy and his co-workers, Rick could not accomplish the many mundane tasks seeing people take for granted.  Rick's job was more than a job. It was part of his support group. 

Sammy and the web guys who worked for Sammy wanted Rick to provide an internet platform similar to the one he used for his medicaid business. When Rick balked, Rick was fired.  Sammy just sat and watched as his Vice-President fired Rick. Sammy and the Vice-President still did not recognize Rick's vulnerability.  Rick could not stay in the Southeast without a support group. 

Rick's brother came down within a month to help Rick move back to the East Coast. 

The EEOC concludes its process with no resolution, as always. Rick files suit. Sammy hires the best law firm in the area.  At Rick's deposition, the lawyer grills Rick, who remains amiable. Rick was angry at first about the firing and leaving him stuck thousands of miles from his support network.  But, in the past two years, he has found a new job making fair money, if not the six figure salary he had with Sammy. In two years, Rick was now doing better emotionally.   

Then, its Sammy's turn to be deposed. Sammy has thought about what happened.  Something has clicked for him. When he is asked if ever took Rick's cane, he looks like the little boy with his hand caught in the cookie jar.  Yes, he answers quietly. When he is asked if he pretended he was blind, he turns red and mutters, "yes." When he is asked if he thought taking the cane and pretending to be blind was funny, he says "yes." His face says he now knows he committed a grievous error.

Its not that he took advantage of a vision impaired man.  He did.  Its not that he was insensitive to the sufferings of another. He was. No, the real problem for Sammy is that a good sportsman does not take canes away and tease blind people. Sports have a sense of ethics, too, Sammy violated those "rules" and he knew it. Sports legends are supposed to be above those things.  Great men should be above picking on vulnerable persons. On that day, when he poked fun at a blind man far from his home, Sammy was just human, like the rest of us. 

But, seeing his weakness and his mistakes, Sammy emerged once again the better man, the sports legend. In answering truthfully about things he could have denied, he admitted his weakness.  He was himself again. He was the sports legend, after all. Sammy never used the word "apology."  But, his body language did. Rick saw it. Rick saw the change. In leaving the room, Rick asked his lawyer to see if they could settle this case. 

Fifth Circuit Panel Ignores Evidence of Racism

In Willis v. CLECO Corp., No. 13-30217, (5th Cir. 4/8/14), the Fifth Circuit panel reverses summary judgment regarding a disciplinary write-up, but affirms summary judgment regarding the termination of an African-American worker. Gregory Willis' lawyer did not do him any favors in failing to point to specific pages from Mr. Willis' deposition. Those pages identify stark, repugnant racism in a small Central Louisiana town. 

Mr. Willis worked for CLECO starting in 2000. He was promoted to a senior position in the Human Resources department several years later. He overhead a discussion between a co-worker and the General Manager of the HR department, John Melancon. The co-worker said to Mr. Melancon that she did not understand why the GM would go to Grambling University, a historically black college, to recruit employees. They were, she said, as "lazy" and "dumb" there as are the black employees at CLECO. The General Manager did not respond to her racist comments.

Mr. Willis reported this conversation to corporate executives and indicated it was racist. Mr. Melancon, according to a co-worker, was furious about his report. He said he would not forget this and that he would "terminate that nigger." Jerome Ardoin heard Mr. Melancon mention this threat. He also testified that he heard the General Manager refer to black employees as "niggers" and "coons" frequently over the years. CLECO Corp. is the publicly owned and traded utility supplier for Central Louisiana. 

But, in responding to summary judgment, Mr. Willis' attorney did not point out these specific statements with specific page numbers. Apparently, he referred to them globally but did not include the particular page numbers. The majority two judges on the Fifth Circuit panel faulted the lawyer for this failure. They cited case law saying a court is not required to ferret out evidence. That is, a judge is not required to pore through pages and pages of deposition transcripts. 

But, the dissent, Judge Dennis, apparently did pore through the deposition transcript. He did dig out the facts and included them in his lengthy dissent. He presents a compelling chronology of blatant racism and reprisal. 

Mr. Ardoin is white. Another white co-worker, Patrick Lacour, testified that the General Manager once told him that he (the GM) would not allow his family to live in Alexandria, which is right across the river from Pineville, Louisiana, because there were too many black people who lived there. See decision here.

Comment: I have lived in Alexandria. At least when I was there, yes, there were many black citizens of Alexandria. Pineville was probably predominantly white. But, there were also plenty of white people in Alexandria, in case someone is counting beans. 

These statements are obviously racist. It is surprising that the majority of the three judge panel would not give this some weight or at least, accept the hard work performed by Judge Dennis in digging this information out. The panel majority simply sits on precedent which states that a court is not required to sift information. But, no case prohibits a court from sifting evidence. When a judge does so voluntarily, there is no harm to the adversarial system. It is disingenuous of the panel majority to then disregard that evidence off clear racism. 

The court faults the plaintiff's lawyer for not formally appealing the finding that he did not make out a prima facie case of discrimination. Thus, said the panel, the plaintiff waived that argument. The plaintiff's lawyer may not have mentioned this, but the prima facie case does not apply when the employee presents direct evidence. Here, a dis-interested witness testifies that the General Manager specifically said he would get rid of the person who made the complaint of discrimination. That is direct evidence of retaliation. There is no need of a prima facie case. 

The panel majority allowed Mr. Willis to proceed forward with claims about his written warning. But, since that written warning resulted in no loss of income, Mr. Willis is left with a lawsuit which has little teeth. When there is no lost income, many, perhaps most juries would award no damages. And, I have to add, that finding lawyers who represent employees in discrimination lawsuits is very difficult in even the largest cities. Finding such lawyers in a relatively remote area like Central Louisiana is next to impossible. One has to wonder if the majority judges on this panel are not playing some sort of judicial "hear no evil, see no evil."

How to Avoid Sanctions in a Discrimination Lawsuit

In federal court, the parties are subject to sanctions for any number of offenses, ranging from discovery abuse to filing frivolous claims. Sanctions can include everything from money to a prohibition of certain evidence. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 54(d) allows the winner in a lawsuit to seek an award of attorney's fees. The expenses or costs of a lawsuit will be automatically assessed against the loser. But, the big concern is an award of attorney's fees. Since, in an average discrimination lawsuit, the typical defense attorney will be seeking an award of 200-300 hours of attorney time and paralegal time. 200 hours at $300/hour is serious money indeed. 

The burden to show a lawsuit was truly "frivolous" is pretty high. But, in Garner v. Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court, 554 F.3d 624 (6th Cir. 2009), the U.S. district court awarded sanctions against the plaintiffs. That award was affirmed (mostly) on appeal. In this lawsuit, some twelve plaintiffs sued the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court, and several managers on an individual basis. The suit was based on violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (meaning in general, that they were treated differently that other persons based on race), retaliation for opposing discrimination, for wrongful termination, and for causing emotional distress. 

Comment: while there are times when it is necessary to sue managers in their individual capacity, there needs to be a good treason. Courts are suspicious of individual lawsuits against employers. 

The lower court granted summary judgment against all the plaintiffs on all their claims. The employer then sought sanctions against the plaintiffs and their lawyer. The lower court awarded $660,103.49 in monetary sanctions against eleven plaintiffs. The court found them jointly and severally liable, meaning each one is liable for the whole amount. So, if one or two are insolvent, the remaining plaintiffs would be responsible for the whole amount. 

During the lawsuit, the employer moved for summary judgment against the fourteen former employees. CCJC filed individual motions for summary judgment in September, 2003. The employees filed responses with exhibits and affidavits. In December, 2003, the employees asked to "update" their responses. The court denied the request.

By March, 2005, the court granted summary judgment against all the plaintiffs. The court found that nine employees had failed to include any evidence of racial animus. The lower court found that five plaintiffs had failed to present sufficient evidence of racial animus. 

Comment: the plaintiffs' attorneys (there were two attorneys initially) did not point to specific evidence in the various responses to the the motions for summary judgment. That is a huge mistake., Federal judges will not hunt around in a mass of documents looking for possible evidence. The attorney, Merrie Frost, also called the lower court judge a racist at some point, but never moved for recusal or presented evidence which would justify recusal.  

In August, 2005, the lower court granted the employer's request for costs, including attorney's fees. The court held thirteen employees jointly and severally liable for $69,000. One employee who had filed for bankruptcy was excluded from this ruling.The court found the allegations to be without factual support and, therefore, "frivolous." The court found the employees should have known at the end of discovery that there was not sufficient evidence to support their claims. Three employees were excluded form the order regarding attorney fees, because their claims had some factual support.

The lower court's reasoning appears to be that eleven employees did not provide adequate evidence of causal connection or of pretext. That is, their claims appear to be based on conjecture or speculation. One of the managers was alleged to have made racist statements in regard to some employees. But, other than the alleged statement, there was nothing to indicate the eleven employees have been treated in a discriminatory way. And, the racists statements were only directed to the three employees. 

Comment: the courts are impatient with claims based on "speculation." They hear that with some frequency. I know that discrimination often occurs for which there is no apparent evidence. But, lawsuits are about evidence. Without evidence, the claim is little more than "speculation." 

The lower court also found that the employees' attorney pursued claims she should have known lacked merit. That conduct violates 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1927. Sec. 1927 finds that unnecessarily increasing litigation will incur sanctions. The district court noted that each plaintiff was asked to identify all action s/he considered to be discriminatory in written discovery. Based on those responses, the plaintiffs' lawyer should have know the claims were meritless. 

Comment: I see those requests all the time. "Identify all acts upon which you base your claim for discrimination" (roughly). To answer this sort of interrogatory is tedious, but it is a legitimate request. I presume the plaintiffs' lacked a good answer to this interrogatory. 

The plaintiff's attorney, Merrie Frost, left her law in October, 2003. She claims she was not involved in the lawsuit after that date. On appeal, the employees did not contest the award of $69,000 in costs. They did appeal the award of $660,000 in attorney fees. The employees (and Ms. Frost) argued on appeal that since Ms. Frost had won a previous discrimination case against CCJC, then this case is not meritless. The appellate court rejected that a argument. And, the Sixth Circuit rejected the argument that because two employees were subject to race based comments, that such comments would apply to the employees. "Me-too" claimants cannot "piggy back" with other non-frivolous claims, said the court. 

The employees had planned a disparate impact case - based on statistics. But, the employees never hired an expert who could refute the employer's statistics. Some seven employees alleged retaliation for opposing discrimination. But, the district court found that each of these claims lacked critical elements of the case, ranging from no apparent adverse personnel action to two employees who did not engage in any protected activity. 

Comment: I suspect Ms. Frost made a typical young lawyer mistake: she tried to list every possible claim at the outset, thinking she would drop claims that did not work out. But, in federal court, that approach is not wise. As seen here, the court will believe the plaintiffs were not well prepared for their lawsuit. The weak claims will make the stronger claims look weak. 

The employees argued they lacked the income to pay the award of attorney's fees. The burden, said the court of appeals, was on the employees to show they lacked the ability to pay. The district court noted the plaintiffs averaged $35,000 per year, suggesting they may lack the ability to pay. Yet, for some reason, the lower court did not address their ability or lack of ability in its order. So, the Sixth Circuit ordered the lower court to conduct proceedings regarding the individual plaintiffs' ability to pay an award of attorney's fees. As the court of appeals noted, awarding attorney's fees against losing plaintiffs in a civil rights case is an "extreme" sanction and must be limited to egregious cases. The court of appeals also reversed the finding that liability be "jointly and severally."

At the oral hearing, the attorney Ms. Frost voluntarily conceded if there was any fault, it was on her, not her clients. She asked that any sanctions be awarded against her and her alone. But, said the Sixth Circuit, the clients chose their lawyer and they must accept her actions. See decision here

And, this is how plaintiffs in a civil rights actions will find themselves the subject of a sanctions order. I am sure they believed sincerely in the justness of their cause. But, in federal court, sincerity alone is not enough. 

Fifth Circuit Reverses Summary Judgment

In a recent unpublished decision, the Fifth Circuit reversed the grant of summary judgment in favor of the employer. Monica Hague formerly worked for the University of Texas Health Science Center t San Antonio. Ms. Hague worked in the Emergency Health Services Department. She worked on a contract basis for a set time period. Her contract was renewed twice before it was non-renewed in 2011. She complained about her supervisor, Dr. Manifold, when he read a sexually explicit magazine out loud during a department meeting. Ms. Hague filed a written complaint alleging sexual harassment by Dr. Manifold for this and for another incident. UTHSC found that Dr. Manifold's actions did not rise to the level of sex harassment. But, the university did find that his actions did constitute "sexual misconduct" and were unprofessional. 

Ms. Hague also filed a complaint about the department head, Dr. Villers, alleging differential treatment. He was found innocent, but the university recommended changes in how he communicates. Ms. Hague then filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. Soon after, her contract was not renewed. The university received formal notice of her charge a few days after her contract was non-renewed. Ms. Hague filed suit, alleging discrimination and retaliation. The employer successfully moved for summary judgment on all counts.

Sexual Harassment

In its opinion, the Fifth Circuit noted that while Ms. Hague did allege "harassment" in general with the EEOC, she did not specifically mention "sex harassment." Ms. Hague did not include sexual harassment on her intake sheet with the EEOC. The lower court found, and the Fifth Circuit agreed, that Ms. Hague did not exhaust her administrative remedies. That is, she did not provide the EEOC with that specific charge, so it was supposedly not addressed by the EEOC. Since she did not exhaust her administrative remedies, she cannot later file suit on that cause of action.  Ooops.

It is easy to criticize Ms. Hague, but in reality, most persons file their charge with the EEOC without an attorney. Most charging parties rely on the EEOC for guidance. One could well argue that it is unfair of the courts to hold Ms. Hague to standards imposed upon lawyer-assisted parties. The employer would argue that the plaintiff should not be able to file a complaint that was not addressed by the EEOC. But, the reality is that the EEOC addresses very few things and conducts very few actual investigations. 

 Ms. Hague's claim of sexual harassment also fails because Dr. Manifold was not her supervisor. He was not in a position to take any tangible action against her. The court notes there were only two incidents of sexual harassment and only one of those was directed at Ms. Hague.

Teaching point: to show harassment (sexual or otherwise,) one needs more than two incidents. A sustained pattern over a sustained period of time is preferable.

Retaliation

Regarding the claim of retaliation, the decision is more complicated. The lower court found the plaintiff had not made out a prima facie case of retaliation because temporal proximity alone is not enough to show retaliation. The appellate court noted, however, that the plaintiff advanced a theory of retaliation based on pretext, not on temporal proximity.

The elements of retaliation include:

  • the employer participated in a protected activity (i.e., complained about discrimination or testified in support of co-workers who complained)
  • the employer took some tangible action against the employee, and
  • a causal connection exists between the protected activity and the adverse employment action. 

The Fifth Circuit majority found that the plaintiff had presented substantial evidence of pretext, so as to avoid summary judgment. The employee noted her positive job evaluations and the fact that other female employees who supported her discrimination complaints were also non-renewed or terminated.

And, Dr. Villers' alleged reason for the termination of Ms. Tarango had changed over time. Ms. Tarango was the other victim of Dr. Manifold. She had provided information during the EEO investigation. She was initially told she was terminated because of budgetary issues. But, later in a deposition, Dr. Villers said it was because they needed someone with a higher level of experience. A fact-finder is entitled to an opportunity to infer pretext if the reasons change. A third woman was also terminated and her reasons also changed over time. 

And, Dr. Villers testified that he terminated Ms. Hague due to "issues of trust." He referenced a grievance she and filed against him. He insisted it was not the filing of a grievance, but the substance of the grievance. Still, said the appellate court, that was enough.

Indeed, it is enough. "issues of trust" is a very ambiguous complaint about an employee. An employer really needs to be able to point to something objective when s/he fires a worker in any situation, but especially in a situation with reasonable complaints of discrimination. I am surprised summary judgment was granted in this set of facts, at all. After all,  "issues of trust" is often just another way of saying, "she filed against me and might do it again."

And, it surely helped the plaintiff's cause that her supervisor testified on her behalf and rebutted the university's claims of poor job performance. See decision here

Northwestern Univ. Football Players Can Form Union

The National Labor Relations Board has decided that college athletes can form a union. To reach that determination, the NLRB had to first find that football players are "employees" of the school. Football players at Northwestern University had sought to form a union.  I first wrote about their request here.

The Northwestern University quarterback, Kain Colter, lead the effort apparently after he sustained an injury and experienced frustration with the NCAA. See CBS news report. He testified that at Northwestern, football comes first.  If the players can fit academics in, then good. But, football still comes first. The Head Coach, Pat Fitzgerald, testified to the contrary, that academics comes first. The NLRB apparently believed Mr. Colter. The union will seek to ensure all medical expenses are covered for the players.

The NLRB does not have jurisdiction over local and state government unions. So, any future unions would have to come among private universities. 

The implication of this may be far reaching. If the athletes are "employees," then they will be entitled to all sorts of protections. They will, for example, be entitled to minimum wage and worker's compensation protection. The athletes receive scholarships, but do those scholarships satisfy minimum wage requirements if we factor in all the hours required of each player? 

And, of course, as union members, the athletes can now negotiate with "management" regarding work hours, break periods, and ...  wind sprints? 

AA Foundries Settles Appeal

The employer who lost its discrimination trial in 2012 has dropped its appeal.  A jury in U.S. district court awarded three plaintiffs $200,000 in damages.  That amount was later reduced to $140,000 due to statutory caps on damages.  See San Antonio Express News report.  

The manager was accused of using the "n" word frequently and of referring to African-American workers as "you people" and as "boy."  I previously wrote about this trial here. The EEOC has reached a settlement with the employer. See EEOC announcement. That would be a wise move.  The evidence of discrimination in this case does not get any better than racist statements like those. 

AA Foundries agreed to pay $20,000 to Kathy White as part of the settlement, even though the jury did not find in Ms. White's favor. That is one of the positive things about a settlement - a party can agree to things they could not otherwise obtain at trial. The employer agreed to pay the full value awarded to the other workers. This is also a nice win for the EEOC, who are often maligned by both employers and employees. 

St. Mary's Hall Cancels Undocumented Immigrant Speaker

Since at least the early 1900's, immigrants, legal or not, have received some protections under U.S. law. One illegal immigrant, Sergio Garcia, filed suit and won before the California Supreme Court the right to practice law in California. Now a lawyer and motivational speaker, Mr. Garcia is still not a citizen. He arrived in the U.S. at the age of seventeen months. Local San Antonio private school, St. Mary's Hall invited Mr. Garcia to speak at their annual United Nations conference. They planned to pay him $2,500.  Of this amount, half would go to Mr. Garcia's foundation for students who have financial problems.  

The school asked Mr. Garcia to submit to them a signed W-9. The W-9 form asks for the taxpayer's tax identification number, whether it is a Social Security Number or some other number. 

Mr. Garcia responded that he could not sign that form. He asked to be paid as an independent contractor. An independent contractor would be paid via the Form 1099. With a 1099, no taxes would be withheld. And, in reality, Mr. Garcia surely is an independent contractor. He is not an employee of the school.  And, the school will not direct his job duties as a one-time speaker .

He said he has used the Form 1099 in the past when he was paid for speaking. But, the school responded no, he must use the W-8BEN or the W-8ECI forms. The W-8BEN is for persons of foriegn citizenship. The W-8BEN also assumes the recipient of the pay is an employee. The school president told him in an email that it appeared that he was trying to avoid paying taxes and that he was refusing to follow the laws of "my country." One school accountant said they should not hire "illegal aliens."  See Buzzfeed post. But, again, a one-time speech does not make him an employee. 

The school claims to be relying on an opinion from their auditor. But, that does not sound right, since Sergio Garcia is very likely an independent contractor. Perhaps, the school's stance is based more on over-reaction complicated by some bias toward illegal immigrants. In any event, the school's attempt to avoid bad publicity may lead to worse publicity. 

Texas Female Assistant AG's Suffer Pay Discrimination

The Equal Pay Act is a statute that requires that women be paid the same as men who perform the same work. The Equal Pay Act was passed in the 1970's as an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination against minorities. Texas passed its version of Title VII,  Texas' version is known as the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act. The TCHRA was also amended to require equal pay for equal work.  

The Equal Pay Act was amended by the Lillie Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to allow women to file suit for violations occurring more than two years prior to the lawsuit. Congress passed this amendment just a couple of years ago. But, when Congress amended the Equal Pay Act to allow women to sue for older violations, Texas did not also amend the TCHRA. The Texas legislature passed an amendment, but Gov. Perry vetoed that amendment.  See my post about that inexplicable veto here.  

The current Attorney General, Greg Abbott, has dodged questions about whether he would veto a similar bill if he were governor. Now, we see why. The salaries for Assistant Attorney Generals are not equal. They do not reflect equal pay for equal work. See San Antonio Express News report (account required). The report gets into the "weeds" of the matter. In an Equal Pay Act case, we must be sure the two jobs, one for a man and one for a woman, are truly comparable. The report notes that among the many levels of Assistant AG;s. in three categories, women have more experience as lawyers, yet, they make less than their male counter-parts.  The women were paid $647 less per year than their male counter-parts in three categories. 

Among the Assistant AG's in seven other categories, men made $647 to $3,512 more on average than women. In just one category, women made more than their male counter-parts.  The AG's office defends this pay disparity saying the salary levels are based on factors other than experience.  The education level, the management requirements, could all differ.  But, if that were true, the disparity should favor women on occasion, also.  If the disparity were due to having attended better schools or having more managers as men, women would or should not be disadvantaged.  Women lawyers attend good schools, too.  Women serve (or should serve) as managers, also.  

The real difference is that Assistant AG's are hired individually.  The hiring manager has a pay range to work with. This study indicates that the hiring managers are offering higher pay to male lawyers than to female lawyers. Over time, that pay disparity remains, as both genders move up in the ranks.  Look at the pay for Director V.  The lone female Director V receives the lowest salary.  Did she attend the worst, least respected schools?  Does she supervise fewer Assistants than the other male Director V's? It is possible, but doubtful. 

Jim Harrington, of the Civil Rights Law Project, says this study presents prima facie case of pay discrimination. Perhaps. But, as I have explained to many clients, statistics never provide strong evidence of discrimination. There are normally just too many variables.  But, this pay disparity may just have some legs.  

Martin Traded to Forty-Niners

So, Jonathan Martin is traded to the San Fransisco Forty-Niners, a team where he wanted to play.  He is friends with the head coach of the Forty-Niners, Jim Harbaugh.  And, so ends the bullying fiasco at the Miami Dolphins. See CBS News report. Two of his main harassers, Richie Incognito and John Jerry have been declared free agents. So, they will be gone.  I wrote about this bullying episode here.  

And, so ends most bullying incidents, if they end at all. The workplace is turned upside down, key workers leave or are forced out. The offensive line coach was fired, as was the long-term head trainer.  And, it could have turned out much better if managers (i.e., coaches) had simply addressed the issue much sooner. I am repeatedly surprised at the lack of leadership displayed so often in major employers. In the Army, they taught us to address issues sooner than later.  If you deal with things sooner, the leader can turn an ugly situation into a "teaching point."  A negative can become a positive. Instead, the Dolphins have to re-create their entire offensive line.  

Tesoro Refinery Suffers a Second Acid Spill

Tesoro Corporation has sustained a second acid spill at the same refinery.  I wrote about the first acid spill here.  It appears that the first acid spill was worse than Tesoro first suggested.  The Chemical Safety Board described the latest information about the first spill as "eye-opening."  See San Jose Mercury News report. The CSB has indicated that it has now regained access to the site after Tesoro had barred the CSB investigators.  Two workers suffered sulfuric acid burns in this latest spill.  Tesoro is headquartered here in San Antonio. 

Worker safety should be more than just a slogan.