Archive for December, 2018

EEOC: Burger Joint Violated Disabled Employee’s Right to Short-Term Adjustment

But for its alleged refusal to make a short-term adjustment to an employee’s schedule, this employer could have stayed out of court.

The Krystal Company, the owner and operator of a quick-serve hamburger restaurant chain headquartered in Dunwoody, Georgia, unlawfully discriminated against an employee when it refused to accommodate her disability and fired her, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed September 28 in Atlanta, Georgia.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Krystal violated federal law by not providing Ms. Maxine Wilson, field training manager, with a reasonable accommodation of a short-term adjustment to her work schedule and then discharging her because she was disabled.

Disability discrimination violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and employers who take adverse actions against employees with actual disabilities are liable under the ADA. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. The Krystal Company, Civil Action No. 1:18-CV-4536-TCB-JCF) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking reinstatement, back pay, front pay, and compensatory and punitive damages for Ms. Wilson, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent future discrimination.

“An employer cannot discharge an employee because of her disability,” said Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “The employee here has a disability that did not prevent her from performing her job. Rather than attempting to accommodate the disability, the employer discharged her.”

Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, district director of the Atlanta office, said, “The EEOC is committed to ending disability discrimination in Georgia and across the country.”

The Atlanta District Office of the EEOC oversees Georgia and parts of South Carolina.

EEOC: Hotel Operator Botched Response to Employee’s Need for Seizure Recovery Time

Here’s another example of an employer that allegedly led fears and stereotypes determine its response to a disabled employee’s need for reasonable accommodation.

PML Services, LLC, which operates the IHG Army Hotel in Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, violated federal law when it fired an employee for being absent while recovering from a seizure, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed Sept. 27

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, an employee who had a seizure at home the night before a scheduled day off called her supervisor to ask for two additional days off to recover from the seizure. Her supervisor granted the request and asked to meet with the employee before her next shift. At that meeting, the employee’s supervisor and the hotel’s manager fired the employee due to disability-related absences and their fears and stereotypes about epilepsy.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, as amended. The EEOC sued in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin (EEOC v. PML Services, LLC, doing business as IHG Army Hotels – Fort McCoy, Civil Action No. 3:18-cv-00805) after first trying to settle through its conciliation process. The lawsuit asks the court to order the IHG Army Hotel to pay damages, including punitive damages. The lawsuit also seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting IHG Army Hotels from discriminating against its employees based on disability and requiring the company to communicate with disabled employees who request accommodations to find appropriate accommodations.

“Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to integrate into the national workforce and economy thousands of disabled employees. The law requires employers to accommodate disabled employees who are qualified to do their jobs,” said Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District. “The EEOC will prove in court that firing an employee for brief disability-related absences, like the IHG Army Hotel did here, is discriminatory.”

Julianne Bowman, district director of the EEOC’s Chicago District, said, “The ADA requires employers to consult with disabled employees who request help to find a reasonable way to accommodate them so they can do their jobs. The EEOC found during its investigation that the IHG Army Hotel, while initially granting the employee’s request for time to recover from her seizure, fired her for taking the time the hotel granted her. The hotel cannot evade its obligations under the law in this way.”

The EEOC’s Chicago District is responsible for investigating charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

Contractor Allowed Harassment, EEOC Charges

Speaking of sexual harassment, here’s an employer that apparently was clueless there was harassment going on, and had no mechanism in place to deal with it.

Sys-Con, LLC, a Montgomery, Alabama-based construction general contractor that also provides facility and building maintenance services, violated federal law when at least two female employees working in the Hyundai plant in Montgomery were subjected to sexual harassment by their Sys-Con supervisor, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed on September 26, 2018.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, from approximately December 2015 to May 2017, Sys-Con employed a supervisor who repeatedly pressured two female employees for sex, played pornographic movies, exposed himself, and sexually assaulted one of them. The harasser also threatened to have the victims and their spouses terminated if they did not comply. The supervisor did terminate one of the employees because she resisted his advances.

The EEOC further contends that Sys-Con had no anti-harassment policy, no complaint procedure for employees to report harassment, and had never trained supervisors or employees on sexual harassment or how to report it.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination which is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Sys-Con, LLC Case No. 2:18-cv-00837) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama on September 26, 2018 after completing an investigation and first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages for the victims, including compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief.

“Title VII prohibits a supervisor from threatening or otherwise pressuring employees to have sex and terminating an employee who resists. Federal anti-discrimination laws exist to protect workers from such a sexually hostile work environment,” said the EEOC Birmingham District Director Bradley Anderson. “The EEOC will act when employers allow such egregious conduct to take place.”

Marsha Rucker, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham District, said, “Employers have an obligation to provide a workplace free from sexual harassment and that includes providing a clear means for employees to report harassment. No employee should be required to submit to demands for sex or risk losing his/her job.”

Sys-Con, LLC employs more than 150 employees, and provides facility and building maintenance services for the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Plant in Montgomery, Alabama.

The EEOC’s Birmingham District consists of Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern counties) and the Florida Panhandle.

Harassment, Retaliation Alleged at Cargo Handler

This employer compounded its legal problems when it allegedly fired a male employee who sought to stop harassment of female employees.

Alliance Ground International, a cargo handling company with operations at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, violated federal law when it failed to address complaints from multiple women about being sexual harassed by a male supervisor, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed September 27. The lawsuit also charged that Alliance Ground unlawfully fired a male employee in retaliation for his complaints on behalf of women whom he observed being harassed.

Julianne Bowman, the EEOC’s district director in Chicago, who managed the federal agency’s pre-suit administrative investigation, said the EEOC’s investigation revealed that a male supervisor subjected Nydia Josten and other women to unwanted touching and sexual advances. The investigation further revealed that a male co-worker who reported the harassment to Alliance Ground was promptly terminated in retaliation for his advocacy on the women’s behalf.

Josten complained to Alliance Ground about sexual harassment, Bowman said. Rather than responding to Josten’s complaint by investigating and possibly disciplining the harasser, Alliance Ground ignored the complaint, and the harasser continued to harass Josten as well as other women, Bowman said. Furthermore, Alliance Ground fired a male employee shortly after he reported the pervasive harassment that he observed in the workplace.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation in employment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Alliance Ground International, LLC, Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-6598) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on Sept. 27th after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Charles R. Norgle, Sr. The EEOC is seeking full relief, including reinstatement, back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and non-monetary measures to correct Alliance Ground’s practices going forward.

“Alliance Ground had multiple opportunities to take action in response to complaints about the sexual harassment perpetrated by its supervisor, but it chose not to act,” said Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office. “By ignoring the complaints, Alliance Ground put its female employees in harm’s way and the company at risk of this lawsuit.”

According to company information, Alliance Ground performs cargo, mail and ramp handling services for multiple clients at several major U.S. airports, including O’Hare. Alliance Ground employs approximately 1,500 workers across its operations, with over 100 based in Chicago.

The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

Parking Lot Attendants Ousted Because of National Origin, EEOC Alleges in Title VII Suit

Speaking  in “broken English” caused these three foreign-born workers to lose their jobs, according to federal civil rights enforcers.

BALTIMORE LAZ Parking, the second largest parking company in the United States, violated federal law when it terminated three long-time employees based on their national origin, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced Sept 26.

According to the suit, LAZ Parking decided to eliminate four positions at its DownUnder Garage in Baltimore in connection with a job automation transition, from a cashier-at-exit system to one where customers pay the parking fee directly at a machine. The EEOC charges that during the transition, LAZ Parking terminated a Moroccan customer service representative, a Moroccan cashier, and an Ethiopian cashier based on their national origin. Each had worked for the parking company since 2009. When the Ethiopian cashier asked the operations manager why he was terminating only certain people, he told her it was because of their “broken English”, but also said that she was a good and honest employee, according to the suit. The operations manager also previously commented to the Moroccan customer service representative about his “broken English” and mocked his accent. EEOC says that LAZ Parking retained two American customer service representatives, one of whom had only worked for the company for nine months and the other had never worked as a customer service representative.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits discrimination based on national origin. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. LAZ Parking Mid-Atlantic, LLC, Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-02963) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary, pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said, “These long-time employees did their jobs well and were able to communicate with customers satisfactorily. Unfortunately, LAZ Parking wrongfully selected them for layoff because of their accents and national origins.”

EEOC District Director Jamie R. Williamson added, “The EEOC is committed to advancing equal opportunity for all workers regardless of national origin.”

The EEOC’s Baltimore Field Office is one of four offices in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.

EEOC: Retail Chain Flubbed Accommodation

Sometimes cheap is expensive, as this prominent beauty products chain may find out concerning its treatment of a store employee who had a disability.

Bath & Body Works, LLC, a national retail chain selling bath and beauty products violated federal law by refusing to consider a reasonable accommodation requested by an employee with a disability, and then constructively discharging her because of her disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed September 26.

According to Julianne Bowman, district director for the EEOC’s Chicago District office, who supervised the investigation preceding the lawsuit, Jennifer Tvinnereim had worked in the store for a year, and earned a promotion as a Sales Lead. In February 2015, Tvinnereim requested a larger monitor at the cash register to accommodate vision issues she had related to diabetes, but she was simply sent home and had her hours reduced. Bath & Body Works’ corporate human resources department was contacted by Tvinnereim but did not try to provide the larger monitor. The store manager bought a cheap magnifying glass and humiliated Tvinnereim by presenting it to her in front of her co-workers.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires the employer to investigate and discuss an employee’s request for reasonable accommodations. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case, EEOC v. Impressions Incorporated, Civil Action No. 0:18-cv-02758, was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, and was assigned to U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson. The government’s litigation effort will be led by Trial Attorney Patrick Connor and supervised by EEOC Associate Regional Attorney Jean P. Kamp.

“Employers must give serious consideration when an employee requests an accommodation for a disability,” said Greg Gochanour, the regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District Office. “Instead, Ms. Tvinnereim was sent home, had her hours reduced and then was humiliated when told to hold a cheap magnifying glass in front of customers as she used the cash register monitor.”

The EEOC’s Minneapolis Area Office is part of the Chicago District, which is responsible for handling charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

No-Brainer: Car Dealership Fired Employee Who Received Tumor Diagnosis, EEOC Alleges in Suit

This employer in Washington State needs to read up on the requirements of federal disabilities discrimination law.

Titus-Will Ford, a Tacoma car dealership, violated federal law when it fired an employee immediately after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed Sept. 26.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Lucas Perry worked for Titus-Will Ford, Inc., when he requested a day off to have an MRI examination. When asked about the results the next day, he told his managers he had a brain tumor, and Titus-Will fired him immediately.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which prohibits firing an employee due to a disability. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Tacoma (EEOC v. Titus-Will Ford, Inc., Case No. 3:18-cv-05772) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks monetary damages for Perry and injunctive relief, which includes training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of notices at the worksite, and compliance reporting.

“Congress passed the ADA 28 years ago to protect employees and applicants against unfounded decision-making just like this. Employees should not fear losing their jobs when an employer finds out they have a disability,” EEOC Seattle Field Director Nancy Sienko said.

EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Teri Healy said, “Mr. Perry never asked for any accommodation and never needed one. It is illegal to fire an employee due to a disability or perceived disability. Titus-Will acted on its fears and stereotypes about his condition, and this is against the law.”

According to its website www.tituswillford.com, Titus-Will Ford is part of the Titus-Will Automotive Group which has over 500 employees and operates eight dealerships on the I-5 corridor in Western Washington.