EEOC: Employer Breached Settlement Agreement

This employer better have a good reason for reneging on the terms of a settlement of a pregnancy discrimination claim.

TRU Towing Auto, a New Orleans-based towing business, breached a settlement it entered into during a pregnancy discrimination mediation with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC’s suit (Civil Action No. 2:18-cv-3874 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana), TRU Towing breached its mediation settlement agreement with the EEOC and Devora Hampton, under which it had agreed to pay Hampton $5,500 to resolve her pregnancy discrimination claim. The EEOC’s complaint alleges that on Jan. 31, TRU Towing’s owner, Brian Ballard, and Hampton entered into an agreement to settle Hampton’s charge during mediation. The company is now refusing to pay the money owned to Hampton, the EEOC says, and the agency filed suit seeking specific performance of the contractual agreement and payment of the settlement money to Hampton. The EEOC seeks specific performance of the terms of the mediation settlement agreement, which includes payment of $5,500 to Hampton.

“The EEOC will aggressively pursue enforcement of settlement agreements,” said Keith T. Hill, field director of the agency’s New Orleans Field Office, which is under its Houston District Office. “It is crucial to ensure that discrimination victims remain confident that they will receive the relief we have negotiated for them.”

Rudy Sustaita, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Houston, said, “The EEOC’s mediation program fulfills an important role in its enforcement program. Parties who participate in mediation with us should have confidence that any agreement reached during that process cannot be invalidated just because the company no longer wants to honor its obligation. The EEOC will file suit to obtain compliance with its settlement agreements.”

Michelle T. Butler, the EEOC senior trial attorney in charge of the case, added, “A settlement reached in mediation with the EEOC is a presumptively valid contract which cannot be repudiated based on a company’s whim.”

According to the company’s website, TRU Towing operates a fleet of 20 trucks and has been in business for over 30 years.

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