Posts Tagged ‘EEOC lawsuit’

Egg on Their Face: Poultry Ranch Forks Over $93K to Settle Suit Involving Disabled Worker

Let’s hope this case resounds in the employer world so no employee with a disability will be treated this way again.

A Saranac, Michigan egg producer will pay $93,000 and provide other relief to settle a disability harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced yesterday. The EEOC charged that Herbruck Poultry Ranch, Inc. violated federal law by subjecting a worker to a hostile work environment because of her disability and by retaliating against her for complaining about the discriminatory treatment.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a disabled employee experienced frequent mocking by her supervisor and coworkers about her disability-related symptoms. The Commission further alleged that Herbruck failed to take adequate remedial measures in response to the harassment, retaliated against the worker for complaining about it, and constructively discharged her through escalating harassment, which included her supervisor’s following her into a bathroom and initiating a confrontation with the disabled employee on her last day at work.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which mandates that covered employers provide a workplace free of disability-based harassment and prohibits retaliation against disabled employees who complain of harassment. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan in Grand Rapids (Case No. 1:19-cv-00165) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the monetary relief, the two and a half-year consent decree resolving the suit provides for injunctive relief, revisions and amendments to Herbruck’s discrimination and harassment policies, and training for all employees on the requirements of the ADA.

“We are pleased with the relief provided by the consent decree,” said Dale Price, the EEOC attorney who handled the case. “The revised policies and training provide meaningful protections for the employees of Herbruck from disability-based harassment. With this resolution, Herbruck has taken a positive step towards protecting the rights of disabled employees in the workplace.”

The EEOC’s Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and parts of Ohio. The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.

$125K Later, Calif. Country Club Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Involving Female Servers

This country club may have made its guests feel at home, but the female servers at its restaurant experienced conditions far less hospitable.

Fairbanks Ranch Country Club, Inc., one of two entities the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit against alleging the sexual harassment of and retaliation against female employees, will pay $125,000 and provide other relief to settle the lawsuit, the agency announced yesterday. Co-defendant Bay Club Fairbanks Ranch, LLC assumed full control of Fairbanks Ranch Country Club in 2015. The EEOC’s lawsuit against Bay Club Fairbanks Ranch, LLC continues.

According to the EEOC’s suit, the restaurant manager at the Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., country club sexually harassed a class of young female servers almost daily. The EEOC’s lawsuit alleges that the manager routinely abused his position by requiring female servers to acquiesce in his sexual advances for job benefits. Additionally, the agency charged that the behavior was so prevalent that other male employees felt free to engage in sexual harassment as well. Because of this hostile work environment, some female servers felt they had no choice but to resign.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, and retaliation for reporting a claim against such discrimination. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern Region of California (EEOC v. Bay Club Fairbanks Ranch, LLC, and Fairbanks Ranch Country Club, Inc., Case No. 3:18-cv-01853-W-AGS), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to monetary relief, the three-year consent decree includes injunctive relief aimed at preventing further workplace harassment and retaliation. Fairbanks Ranch Country Club, Inc. has agreed to retain an EEO monitor, review and revise its policies and procedures regarding discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, and create a reporting structure for employees to report discrimination and harassment, which will include establishing a complaint hotline number. Additionally, Fairbanks Ranch has agreed to provide training to all employees on federal anti-discrimination laws, with an emphasis on sexual harassment. Finally, Fairbanks Ranch is required to keep records necessary to demonstrate its compliance with the decree. The decree will remain under the court’s jurisdiction for the three-year term.

“We commend Fairbanks Ranch Country Club for resolving this matter and for establishing relief that will benefit its employees,” said Anna Park, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, which has jurisdiction over San Diego County.

Christopher Green, director of the EEOC’s San Diego Local Office, added, “Supervisors and managers have a particular responsibility to ensure that workplaces are free of harassment and discrimination. I am encouraged that one party in this suit has agreed to take necessary steps to ensure a discrimination- and harassment-free work environment for its employees.”

Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

McDonald’s in Texas Forks Over $340K in Settlement of EEOC Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

McDonald’s seeks to portray a wholesome image, but it was anything but that for female employees at this Texas franchise, federal investigators found.

Credle Enterprises, LLC, doing business as McDonald’s in the Texas panhandle, will pay $340,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced November 22.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, eight women who worked for the company were subjected to sexual harassment. The EEOC charged that two male employees, one of whom was the general manager, subjected the female employees to physical touching, sexual jokes and the display of pornographic images. The EEOC also charged that although management was aware of the harassment, no action was taken to prevent it from continuing.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex-based discrimination made unlawful by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Lubbock Division (EEOC v. Credle Enterprises, LLC d/b/a McDonald’s, Civil Action No. 5:18-CV-00239-C), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The four-year consent decree settling the suit, signed on November 21, 2019 by U.S. District Court Judge Wes Hendrix, calls for the company to provide $240,000 in monetary relief to eight women who were subjected to sexual harassment, and includes an additional class distribution fund of $100,000 for administration by the EEOC to any other female employees subjected to harassment who were employed with the company during the relevant time.

Beyond the monetary terms of resolution, the decree requires the employer to implement measures to guard against sexual harassment going forward. Such measures include the designation of a managerial employee who will be responsible for ensuring that Credle employees are trained on their rights and res­ponsibilities under Title VII, as well as the company’s policies and procedures on harassment, and for conducting investigations of all complaints of sexual harassment and retaliation.

The company will also conduct detailed annual sexual harassment training for all employees that encompasses topics such as respect and civility in the workplace; the ways in which employees can report unwelcome workplace behavior; how an employee who believes she has witnessed harassment can appro­priately intervene; and the consequences of engaging in inappropriate conduct.

“This case represents the best of all outcomes for the parties involved,” said EEOC Trial Attorney Meaghan Kuelbs. “Not only have the women who were subjected to the harassment been compensated for the harm they suffered, but the employer has committed itself to changing its workplace in a meaningful way so that current and future employees feel that they will be protected from this kind of inappropriate behavior.”

EEOC Dallas District Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino added, “If management does not have an effective policy and complaint procedure in place, sex harassment can become a hostile environment claim.  Emphasis on prevention and promptness in response to complaints is a message that should come from the top.”

Credle Enterprises, LLC d/b/a McDonald’s operates three McDonald’s franchises in northwest Texas. In addition to its location in Muleshoe, Credle Enterprises, LLC operates McDonald’s stores in Hereford and Littlefield.

The EEOC’s Dallas District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and litigation in Texas and parts of New Mexico.

$100K Payment Closes EEOC Lawsuit on Behalf of Harassed African-American Cook at N.Y. Eatery

Maybe this payout will prompt other restaurants not to permit racial harassment of their workers.

On The Border Acquisitions, LLC, doing business as On The Border  Mexican Grill & Cantina (OTB), will pay $100,000 and furnish other relief  to settle a race harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment  Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced.

According to EEOC’s lawsuit, OTB failed to take action when several employees at its  Holtsville, New York location subjected an African-American cook to harassment  based on his race, including repeatedly calling him racial slurs.  Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of  the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, including  subjecting employees to a racially hostile work environment.

The EEOC filed suit in U.S.  District Court for the Eastern District of New York in September 2018 (On The  Border Acquisitions, LLC, d/b/a On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina,  Civil Action No. 2:18-cv-05122), after first trying to reach a pre-litigation  settlement through its conciliation process.   The case was litigated by EEOC trial attorney Renay Oliver and supervisory  trial attorney Nora Curtin.

“The  EEOC takes seriously its responsibility to enforce federal law and hold  employers to account. We appreciate OTB’s recognition of that responsibility  and its willingness to resolve this case, avoiding a protracted litigation,”  said EEOC trial attorney Renay Oliver.

In addition to the $100,000 in  monetary relief and a letter of apology to the victim, the three-year consent  decree resolving the suit requires OTB to provide anti-discrimination and  harassment training to employees located at its Holtsville and Hicksville, New  York locations and the supervisors responsible for those locations. OTB will  also redistribute to those employees its EEO policies with a letter from its chief  people officer affirming the company’s commitment to provide a workplace free  from discrimination.  The consent decree  also requires OTB to report to EEOC future complaints of race discrimination  and harassment by its New York employees. The EEOC will monitor OTB’s  compliance with these obligations for the next three years.

Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the New York  District Office said, “Unfortunately, racial  harassment is all too common in the restaurant industry. Whatever the environment, employers  need to take seriously their obligations under federal law and put a  stop to harassment as soon as they become aware of it.”

The  EEOC’s New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination  charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in  Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, northern New  Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont.

$42K Settlement Closes EEOC’s ADA Suit Over Firing of Office Assistant With Seizure Disorder

This employee–and others with seizure disorders–should feel thankful today that they have an ally in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Gollnick Construction, Inc., which does business as Colorado Excavating, will pay $42,500 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination suit brought by the EEOC, the agency announced Tuesday.

The EEOC’s suit alleged Colorado Excavating fired office assistant Dora Marquez just four days after she suffered a seizure at work. Before firing Marquez, Colorado Excavating failed to engage in the required interactive process to discuss potential accommodations. The EEOC also charged the com­pany engaged in recordkeeping and confidentiality violations by not keeping medical information in separate medical files and by shredding employment applications.

Such conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC sued in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado (EEOC v. Gollnick Constr. d/b/a Colo. Excavating, Civil Action No. 1:19-cv-02581-DDD-SKC) after first trying to settle through its conciliation process.

The three-year consent decree settling the lawsuit requires annual training for all employees, management officials, and human resources personnel with an emphasis on disability discrimination and the interactive process. The first annual training will include a component of Epilepsy 101 training provided by the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado. The decree also requires periodic reports to the EEOC of all internal disability discrimination complaints. The monetary award includes back pay and compensatory damages.

“Far too often, people with seizure disorders are denied employment opportunities because of myths and fears about their condition,” said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office. “As this case shows, employment decisions should not be driven by stereotypes and fears about people with epilepsy.”

Amy Burkholder, EEOC Denver Field Office Director said, “We are pleased that Colorado Excavating was able to reach an agreement with the EEOC that will enable us to further Congress’s intention that persons with disabilities have equal opportunity to achieve success. Businesses, large and small, have a legal obligation under the ADA to provide a workplace free from disability discrimination.”

Studies show that the unemployment rate for individuals with epilepsy is two to three times that of the general population. Those individuals with epilepsy who are gainfully employed are likely to be underemployed or earn less than people who do not have epilepsy.

EEOC Recovers $100K in ADA Disability, Retaliation Settlement Against Big Lot Stores

Some justice for a disabled employee mocked for hearing and speech difficulties and her ally who suffered retaliation after coming to her aid.

National retailer Big Lots Stores, Inc., will pay $100,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that a retail worker with hearing and speech disabilities was subjected to harassment by her co-workers at Big Lots’ Elkins, WV, store.  A number of store employees often mocked the worker’s hearing disability and manner of speech, frequently using derogatory and highly offensive terms, and Big Lots management officials were aware of the harassment but failed to take appro­priate action, the EEOC alleged. Additionally, the EEOC charged that Big Lots refused to promote the employee because of her disabilities and in retaliation for reporting the harassment.   Further, the EEOC’s lawsuit charged that Big Lots subjected a non-disabled department manager to discrimination because of her association with the harassment victim and in retaliation for her efforts to protect her co-worker from harassment.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which prohibits employment discrimination based on disability or association with a disabled person and retaliation for opposing such discrimination. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Big Lots Stores, Inc. Case No. 2:17-CV-00073) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia (Elkins). The U.S. District Court previously denied Big Lots’ motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal of the case, and the EEOC and Big Lots reached an agreement to voluntarily settle the case by consent decree before a scheduled trial.

In addition to paying a total of $100,000 to the two workers, the agreed consent decree approved by the U.S. District Court enjoins future violations of the ADA and requires that Big Lots implement various measures to prevent workplace disability discrimination, including ADA investigation documentation requirements, furnishing reports to the EEOC concerning certain allegations of disability harassment or discrimination and retaliation, a training requirement, and posting a notice to employees of the Elkins store relating to the settlement.

“Under federal law, workers have a right to earn a living free from harassment because of their disabilities,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence said. “But of comparable importance is the legal right of all workers, whether they’re disabled or not disabled, to oppose and report workplace conduct that they believe to be disability harassment or other forms of discrimination.  Workers who exercise that right and seek to protect their co-workers or themselves should be applauded, not punished, and the EEOC will act to ensure those workers’ rights are respected.”

EEOC District Director Jamie R. Williamson added, “Disability harassment and other forms of harassment continue to be a pervasive problem in the American workplace.  It is important for employers to recognize the scale of that problem, to acknowledge their own responsibility, and to work proactively to develop and implement solutions within their own organizations.”

Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

The lawsuit was commenced by the EEOC’s Pittsburgh Area Office, one of four component offices of the agency’s Philadelphia District Office. The Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.

Mopping Up: African-Americans Beneficiaries of EEOC $750K Settlement Against Janitorial Co.

African-American applicants for jobs with this janitorial service ought to get a fairer shake at a job as a result of this six-figure settlement with the federal government.

Janitorial Service Provider Diversified Maintenance Systems, LLC will pay $750,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a federal race discrimination, harassment and retaliation lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced Friday.

In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that since at least January, 2012, Diversified engaged in an ongoing pattern or practice of race discrimination against African-American job applicants in Maryland and the Washington D.C. and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. The company refused to hire blacks for custodian, lead custodian or porter positions, the EEOC said.

The EEOC also charged that district managers racially harassed an African-American janitorial supervisor by calling him racial slurs and using other abusive language in the presence of customers and employees. Although he complained to upper management and the human resources department, Diversified did not stop the harassment. Instead, the company retaliated against him by demoting him, altering his hours, work assignments and work conditions, and ultimately firing him, EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Diversified Maintenance Systems, LLC. Case No. 8:17-cv-01835) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Southern Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its administrative conciliation process.

In addition to the $750,000 in monetary relief to the African-American supervisor and other claimants, the 30-month consent decree provides equitable relief. Diversified is enjoined from discriminating against or harassing anyone based on race or engaging in retaliation and the company will designate an internal monitor to ensure compliance with the consent decree. Diversified will implement a targeted hiring plan, including tracking the number and race of applicants, and reason(s) why they are not hired. It will also create a policy to prohibit harassment and retaliation and provide training on preventing discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Finally, Diversified will post a notice regarding the settlement and report to the EEOC on how it investigates and handles any future complaints of race discrimination in hiring.

No worker should be denied employment because of his or her race,” said EEOC District Director Jamie R. Williamson. “Moreover, employers must properly address complaints of workplace harassment and prevent retaliation against those who exercise their rights to complain about such mistreatment.”

Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, “The EEOC stands ready to protect workers from race-based barriers in recruitment and hiring. This settlement should encourage all employers to review carefully their hiring practices and procedures to ensure that race is not a factor. We are pleased that in addition to monetary compensation to the claimants, Diversified agreed to robust protections against racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation.”

Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, women, and people with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan.

The lawsuit was commenced by EEOC’s Baltimore Field Office, one of four component offices of EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office. The Philadelphia District Office is responsible for cases originating in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.