Male Employee Denied Position in Maternity Home Program Has EEOC in His Legal Corner

The Children’s Home, Inc., a Tampa non-profit children’s organization, violated federal law when it refused to consider a male employee for a management position in a maternity home program based on his sex, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit it filed October 3. Further, after voicing his concerns about not be considered because he is a male, he was excluded from applying for any other positions with the organization, the EEOC said.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Children’s Home’s upper management and human resources personnel discouraged a male manager, Luis Vasquez, from internally applying to a position in a newly created Adolescent Motherhood Program, which was similar to his then-existing position. The EEOC said that Vasquez was told that management “wasn’t sure if they would accept males to work at the new motherhood program,” and asked, “… can you imagine males changing pampers, working with babies and with pregnant girls?”

Vasquez sought a new position with the organization because the program where he was employed didn’t receive renewed funding. Soon after complaining about the refusal to consider him because of his sex, he was advised that there were no other positions available at the organization for him. Vasquez’s less-experienced female subordinate was selected for the newly created position, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. The Children’s Home, Inc., Case No. 8:17-cv-02262-EAK-JSS) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division after attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“Just as Title VII protects women in the workplace from the gender-based assumption that they always have to be familial caretakers, it also protects men from the stereotype that they cannot hold positions viewed to have such caretaking functions,” said Evangeline Hawthorne, director for the Tampa Field Office.

Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the Miami District Office, added, “Employees must not be prevented from work opportunities based on outdated stereotypes of ‘a man’s role’ in maternity and childcare matters. Employment decisions based on such stereotypes violate federal law and the EEOC will vigorously oppose them.”

The Children’s Home is a non-profit organization that provides programs and services to children-in-need and their families in Central Florida.

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Employee Was Unlawfully Denied Leave of Absence for Medical Attention, EEOC Alleges

Here’s what appears to be a cut-and-dry case of discrimination against an employee with a disability.

Triton Management, LLC, a Carlsbad, Calif.-based company, violated federal law when it failed to accommodate an employee with a disability and instead fired her, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), announced in a lawsuit filed Sept. 29.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, an employee required medical attention and needed a leave of absence for her disability. The EEOC charges that Triton failed to properly engage in the interactive process and instead terminated her employment.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (EEOC v. Triton, Inc., Case No.: 3:17-cv-02004-BAS-KSC) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC’s suit seeks back pay, compensa­tory and punitive damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent further discrimination in the workplace.

“We continue to see employers refusing to accommodate employees with disabilities, as they are required to do under the ADA,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which includes San Diego in its jurisdiction. “The EEOC has a clear mission to fight for the rights of employees facing both disabilities and discrimination.”

Christopher Green, director of the EEOC’s San Diego Local Office, added, “Providing an accommodation is an essential part of the ADA. Failing to do so can lead to a violation of the law.”

EEOC: Teenager Groped by Restaurant Boss

Young victims of sexual harassment have an ally in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

A Bluefield, Va., restaurant violated federal law by subjecting a female employee to a sexually hostile work environment and retaliating against her by reducing her hours, the EEOC charged in a lawsuit filed on September 29.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Alexus Dudeck was employed as a hostess at La Fiesta Fresh Mexican Grill and Cantina in 2015. The EEOC charged that Dudeck, then 18 years old, was subjected to unwelcome sexual comments and touching by a significantly older male manager. According to the EEOC’s complaint, the manager had pre­viously engaged in the same or similar sexual conduct with at least one other female emp­loyee of the company. At the time the alleged sexual harassment occurred, La Fiesta did not have a sexual harassment policy or employee complaint procedures in effect.

The EEOC’s complaint further charged that after Dudeck complained to La Fiesta’s general manager about the harassment, the company reduced Dudeck’s scheduled hours. The complaint alleges that the wife of the alleged harasser was responsible for scheduling Dudeck’s hours after her complaint of sexual harassment was made.

Such conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Abingdon Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Price Ventures, LLC d/b/a La Fiesta Fresh Mexican Grill and Cantina, Civil Action No 1:17-cv-00041-JPJ-PMS) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, back pay for Dudeck, as well as injunctive relief to prevent any future discrimination or harassment in the workplace.

“Sexual harassment is always unacceptable and unlawful in any workplace,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney of EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “When a teenager is a victim, the abuse is all the more unconscionable.  Very young people are among the most vulnerable to this kind of misconduct, and the EEOC is committed to putting a stop to it.”

No Beef: California Meatpacking Company Settles EEOC’s Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $100K

Maybe earlier in our history women didn’t work at meat packing plants. But they do now and that means that they have the right not to be sexually harassed.

Clougherty Packing, LLC, dba Farmer John, a Los Angeles-based meat processing company, will pay $100,000 and furnish other relief to resolve a sexual harassment case brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency announced on Monday. The EEOC charged the company with violating federal law by subjecting a class of female workers to sexual harassment.

According to the EEOC’s suit, the company’s supervisors and employees sexually harassed female employees. Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed its suit U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (EEOC v. Clougherty Packing, LLC dba Farmer John, Case No.: 2:17-cv-07221) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $100,000 in monetary relief, the two-year consent decree settling the suit requires the company to review and revise company policies to comport with Title VII; implement effective training for both supervisors and staff on Title VII; develop a centralized tracking system for employees’ discrimination complaints; and submit reports to EEOC verifying compliance with the decree.

“We commend the efforts by Clougherty Packing / Farmer John in reaching a resolution with EEOC that provides both meaningful monetary relief and important equitable relief for the affected female employees,” said Anna Park, the regional attorney for EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office.

Rosa Viramontes, director of the Los Angeles District Office, added, “The EEOC continues to see cases of workplace harassment perpetrated by supervisors and managers. We commend an employer like Clougherty Packing that is willing to make changes to its policies to better the working environ­ment for all employees.”

Grower Settles Pregnancy Bias Suit for $110K

There’s still way too much discrimination in this country against pregnant workers. Perhaps this latest case will focus employers’ attention on the problem and avoid committing similar mistakes as this employer.

A Merced County orchid grower will pay $110,000 and provide other relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency announced yesterday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Dash Dream Plant, Inc. held staff meetings in which female employees were instructed not to get pregnant and that if a female employee became pregnant, she should consider herself fired. The lawsuit also alleged that female employees were not reinstated or rehired when they attempted to return to work after childbirth.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA), and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. The EEOC filed its lawsuit on Sept. 20, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. Dash Dream Plant, Inc., Case No. 1:16-cv-01395-DAD-EPG) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

As part of the consent decree settling the suit, Dash Dream will pay $110,000 to at least two former employees who the EEOC alleges were subjected to the discriminatory treatment. In addition to monetary relief, Dash Dream also agreed to retain an external equal employment opportunity monitor who will assist the company in creating, reviewing and revising its policies and practices to ensure compliance with Title VII, including the PDA. The external EEO monitor will also assist in creating a centralized tracking system for discrimination complaints and preparing semi-annual reports for the EEOC on Dash Dream’s progress and its compliance under the decree. Dash Dream further agreed to distribute the revised policies to all employees and provide anti-discrimination training for both employees and management personnel. The EEOC will monitor Dash Dream’s compliance with this five-year decree.

“We commend Dash Dream for resolving this complaint and for agreeing to put in place measures to help prevent future pregnancy discrimination in its workplace,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, which includes Merced County in its jurisdiction.

Melissa Barrios, director of the EEOC’s Fresno Local Office, added, “We are encouraged by Dash Dream’s acknowledgment of a woman’s fundamental right to have children, and not lose her livelihood for that choice. The changes that will be put in place as part of this settlement will benefit not only women, but the workforce as a whole.”

According to the company’s website, www.dashdream.wordpress.com, the Dos Palos, Calif.-based company grows orchids for retail and wholesale buyers.

EEOC filed this lawsuit in September 2016.

EEOC Alleges Food Store Didn’t Accommodate Employee Recovering From Surgery on Wrist

A food store in the western U.S. has an Americans With Disabilities Act problem.

Jackson Energy, a division of Jacksons Food Stores, violated federal law by refusing to accommodate a worker recovering from wrist surgery and terminating her because of her disability, the EEOC charged in a lawsuit filed on Sept. 29.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, while working as a dispatcher for Jackson Energy in Meridian, Idaho, Penny Wightman suffered an injury to her wrist that required surgery and was not expected to be fully released to work for at least four to six months. At her employer’s request, she returned to work on modified light duty one week after her surgery, and trained a colleague on her regular duties. However, a few weeks after she did so, the company forced Wightman to go on unpaid medical leave until she could return to work without any restrictions. The EEOC alleges that Jacksons ignored Wightman’s requests for an accommodation, such as speech recognition software, that potentially would have allowed her to continue to perform her dispatcher duties, and instead they fired her when she exhausted her leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) before making a full recovery.

Terminating a qualified employee because of a disability violates the Americans with Disa­bilities Act (ADA). The law also requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship for the employer. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho (U.S. EEOC v. Jacksons Food Stores, Inc., d/b/a Jackson Energy, Case No. 1:17-CV-00407-REB) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks monetary damages on behalf of Wightman and injunctive relief, which typically includes training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of notices at the worksite, and compliance reporting.

This is the agency’s second disability discrimination lawsuit against this employer. Just last month, the EEOC alleged that the company refused to interview a qualified applicant because he was deaf, in a suit filed in the Western District of Washington (EEOC v. Jacksons Food Stores, Inc., 2:17-CV-01285-TSZ).

“Jacksons acknowledged that Ms. Wightman was an excellent employee. But when she became injured, the company refused to even consider potential reasonable accommodations that might have allowed her to fully perform her duties, even with her restrictions,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney May Che. “Instead, Jacksons had her train her replacement, forced her to take medical leave, then discarded her after that expired.”

EEOC Seattle Field Director Nancy Sienko said, “The EEOC has made a national priority of identifying inflexible leave policies that discriminate against individuals with disabilities.” She added, “To insist that workers are 100% healed before they can return to work defeats the whole purpose of the ADA, which is to ensure that when qualified employees with disabilities are ready and willing to work, they have that opportunity to earn a living instead of being sidelined by discrimination.”

Meridian, Idaho-based Jackson Energy is a wholesale and transportation company delivering fuel to over 800 branded retail locations in 9 western states, and is a division of Jacksons Food Stores, Inc. According to its website, http://www.jacksons.com/, Jacksons Foods is national chain of over 230 Chevron-, Shell-, and Texaco-branded convenience stores and one of the largest privately held corporations in Idaho with operations in six Western states and over 3,000 employees.

N.M. Dealership Settles 3-Pronged EEOC Suit

To hear the federal government tell it, a car dealership in New Mexico was rife with animus based on its worker’s race, national origin and religion.

Now the dealership has agreed to clean up its act in settlement of a lawsuit.

Reliable Inc., doing business as Reliable Nissan, along with other entities involved in operating the Albuquerque car dealership, has agreed to settle charges of discrimination based on race, national origin, and religion, along with retaliation, that were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced last Wednesday.

The agreement follows conciliation between the EEOC and Reliable Nissan over claims that two Reliable Nissan Managers repeatedly used the “N-word” during a sales meeting, and referred to African, African-American, Native American, Muslim and Hispanic employees in a derogatory manner. Employees alleged that managers made offensive jokes about Muslim and Native American employees’ religious practices and traditions, and used racial epithets like “n—-r,” “drunken Indians,” “red.” and “redskins.” Racially offensive pictures targeted against minority employees were also posted in the workplace.

The EEOC investigated the charges and found that the racial slurs and innuendos created a hostile work environment for minority employees, and that Reliable Nissan failed to take prompt and remedial action to stop the harassment. The EEOC’s investigation further revealed that employees who complained were retaliated against.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits an employer from discriminating against employees because of their race, national origin or religion. Title VII also protects employees who complain about discrimination from retaliation.

As part of the conciliation agreement, Reliable Nissan agreed to pay a total of $205,000 to three emp­loyees who filed discrimination charges with the EEOC and 11 other minority employees who were subjected to the hostile work environment. The company also agreed to provide annual training for two years for its emp­loyees, including managers and human resources employees. Additionally, Reliable Nissan agreed to re­view its policies and procedures to ensure that employees have a mechanism for reporting discrimination and to make certain that each complaint will be appropriately investigated.

“It is important for all employees to feel safe and free to come forward with reports of harassment,” said EEOC Albuquerque Area Director Derick Newton. “As soon as an employer becomes aware of any kind of harassment because of race, national origin, or religion, the employer must act promptly and appropriately.”

EEOC Phoenix Office District Director Elizabeth Cadle added, “It is illegal for employees to be subjected to such degrading comments and innuendos based on their race, national origin and religion. The EEOC will continue to hold employers accountable for such offensive and discriminatory conduct.”