Posts Tagged ‘EEOC lawsuit’

N.C. Restaurant Pays Up in Transgender Bias Suit

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission continues to take up the banner of transgender employees who experience discrimination in the workplace.

Bojangles’ Restaurants Inc., a North Carolina corporation operating a chain of fast food restaurants in the Southeast, will pay $15,000 and provide other relief to settle a sex harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the EEOC, the federal agency announced Dec. 20. The EEOC charged that Bojangles’ violated federal law when it subjected a transgender employee to a hostile work environment because of gender identity and then illegally fired the employee in retaliation for reporting the sexual harassment.

According to EEOC’s lawsuit, Jonathan (De’Ashia) Wolfe, a transgender woman who worked at a Fayetteville, N.C. Bojangles’, was repeatedly subjected to offensive comments about her gender identity and appearance. Managers and assistant mangers demanded Wolfe, who identifies and presents as a woman, to behave and groom in ways that are stereotypically male since Wolfe was born male. Although Wolfe reported the comments on at least two occasions, the harassment continued. Shortly after Wolfe’s complaints, she was fired in retaliation, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from sex discrimination, including harassment based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Title VII also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who complain about discrimination in the workplace. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Bojangles Restaurants, Inc., Civil Action No. 5:16-cv-00654-BO) after attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

As part of the settlement, Bojangles’ is required to pay Wolfe $15,000. In addition, the company has entered into a two-year consent decree which requires it to provide annual live-presenter training to all specified area directors, unit directors, assistant unit directors, and shift managers on Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on sex and retaliation; to redistribute its anti- harassment/discrimination and retaliation policies to all employees at specified restaurants; and to report to the EEOC any complaints of harassment based on gender identity or gender expression at specified restaurants.

“All employees have the right to work in an environment free from sexual harassment and gender stereotypes,” said Lynette Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC’s Charlotte District. “Federal law provides transgender employees protection from sex discrimination in the workplace.”

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Smooth(er) Sailing: EEOC Collects $50K for Cruise Director Fired After Harassment Complaint

A cruise company is charting a better course for its employees who bring sexual harassment complaints to management.

Memphis-based cruise company American Queen Steamboat Company will pay $50,000 and furnish other relief to resolve a lawsuit charging retaliation filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Dec. 18.

The EEOC charged that in May 2015, American Queen fired a cruise director in retaliation for his submitting a written complaint about the ongoing sexual harassment of a co-worker. The cruise director’s complaint specifically faulted a high-ranking manager, a friend of the alleged harasser, for his handling of the victim’s initial sexual harassment complaint. That high-ranking manager then confronted the cruise director about his complaint and threatened his job. When the cruise director reported the retaliatory conduct to his own supervisor, his supervisor took no action, and American Queen subsequently fired the cruise director.

Retaliation for opposing the sexual harassment of a co-worker violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. American Queen Steamboat Company, Civil Action No. 17-cv-02669) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

On December 15, 2017, Judge Sheryl H. Lipman entered a consent decree resolving the case. In addition to a $50,000 award for lost wages and other damages, the decree requires multiple steps to prevent future discrimination, including an injunction against further retaliation, Web-based and live anti-discrimination training, and monitoring by the EEOC.

“The EEOC is committed to protecting employees who stand up and complain when they see a co-worker being unlawfully sexually harassed,” said EEOC New York Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein. “We are pleased that this employer will be taking steps to ensure that its managers are fully aware of their obligation not to retaliate and that employees are protected from retaliation in the future.”

Kevin Berry, the EEOC’s New York District director, said, “2017 has been a groundbreaking year for exposing sexual harassment in the workplace. For sexual harassment to end, we need to make sure that the victims of harassment and their allies are not penalized for coming forward.”

Employer Pays $25K to Settle EEOC Suit Alleging It Discriminated Against Worker Who Was Bipolar

A home healthcare company recently settled an Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit filed against it by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of an employee who had bipolar disorder.

AccentCare, Inc., a home healthcare company headquartered in Dallas, has agreed to pay $25,000 and provide other significant relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced Friday. The EEOC charged in its suit that AccentCare discriminated against an employee with bipolar disorder.

According to the EEOC’s suit, an AccentCare IT analyst informed the company that she has bipolar disorder and requested leave in order to see her health care provider. The EEOC further said that upon learning of the employee’s disability and receiving her request for leave, AccentCare fired her within one day, without giving proper consideration to her request.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees’ disabilities as long as it does not pose an undue hardship. The EEOC sued in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas (Civil Action No. 3:15-cv-03157) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Under the terms of the consent decree settling the case, AccentCare, Inc. will pay $25,000 in monetary relief to the former IT analyst. AccentCare also agreed to post a notice about the settlement, and to provide training for employees on the ADA to include instruction on the specific provisions of the reasonable accommodation process. The training will include an instruction advising managers and supervisors of the potential consequences for violations of the ADA. Additionally, AccentCare has agreed to document complaints of disability discrimination and report to the EEOC.

“It has always been our contention that AccentCare demonstrated a reckless disregard for the federally protected rights of this valuable employee, rather than carefully considering her request for leave to see her doctor,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Joel Clark.

Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Dallas District Office, added, “We would expect that employers in the health care field would be keenly aware of the importance of supporting the medical needs of their employees by allowing reasonable time that may be required for treatment. We are pleased with the resolution of this case.”

EEOC Recovers $50K for Female Employee Barred From Returning to Work Following Birth

Manhattanites pride themselves on their sophistication, but this clothing company evidently had a simplistic view of a new mother’s rights.

Manhattan-based apparel company R. Siskind & Company, Inc., doing business as Siskind Group, will pay $50,000 and implement revised anti-discrimination policies and procedures to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Siskind Group fired a customer service employee because of her pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions that included the effects of an emergency caesarean section. Although Siskind Group purported to grant the employee maternity leave, when she tried to return to work, she was informed that she no longer had a position for reasons that the EEOC said were pretexts for discrimination.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. The EEOC filed suit in July in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (EEOC v. R. Siskind & Company, Inc., Civil Action No. 17-cv-5175), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The consent decree resolving the suit was entered by U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest on Nov. 27. It provides that Siskind pay $50,000 in lost wages and damages to the former employee. The decree also requires multiple steps to prevent future discrimination, including anti-discrimination policies, training, and leave and accommodation procedures, which will be monitored by the EEOC for three years.

“We are pleased that because of this settlement, Siskind Group will institute policies and provide training so that its management will better recognize and protect the rights of women in the workplace going forward,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein.

EEOC New York District Director Kevin Berry added, “This case exemplifies the EEOC’s commitment to enforcing the law’s protections for women in the workplace, including pregnancy and childbirth.”

EEOC Gets $150K for Underpaid Chinese Technicians Working at NJ Car Dealership

Chinese car technicians at a New Jersey dealership should give thanks this Thanksgiving Day that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission fought for their right to equal pay.

Chas. S. Winner, Inc., doing business as Winner Ford of Cherry Hill and Winner Ford, will pay $150,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a federal pay discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced yesterday.

The EEOC charged that since 2010, Winner Ford paid its Chinese emergency and accessory installation (EAI) technicians a lower starting wage and hourly wage than non-Chinese EAI technicians at its Cherry Hill, NJ location. Winner Ford paid starting Chinese EAI technicians up to $3 less per hour than non-Chinese EAI Technicians, even though they did the same work and some of the non-Chinese technicians had less or no relevant experience. The EEOC said that when a Chinese EAI technician complained about the wage disparity, he was reprimanded, and told that if he sought legal advice, he would be out of a job.

Such alleged conduct violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which makes it illegal to discriminate against employees on the basis of national origin or to retaliate against individuals who complain about discrimination. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Chas. S. Winner, Inc. d/b/a Winner Ford of Cherry Hill d/b/a Winner Ford, Civil Action No. 1:16-06137) in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $150,000 in lost wages and other damages to the class members, the three-year consent decree prohibits Winner Ford from discriminating based on national origin, including in compensation, or engaging in retaliation.  Winner Ford will implement and disseminate an anti-discrimination policy to all employees, applicants and new hires. Winner Ford will also provide training on federal EEO laws to all managers and employees involved in setting wages or handling discrimination complaints. It will also post a notice regarding the settlement.

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said, “Workers deserve equal pay for equal work. We are pleased that Winner Ford worked with us to address these pay disparities and that it will take affirmative measures to ensure that no workers are paid less based on national origin.”

EEOC District Director Kevin Berry said, “Strong enforcement of the pay laws is one of the Commission’s priority issues. The EEOC provides resources, including outreach and training, to assist employers in abiding by these laws, but we will litigate when an employer makes unlawful employment decisions.”

Judge: Manufacturer Violated ADA by Nixing Workers With Positive Carpal Tunnel Tests

Employers violate federal law when they sweep with too broad a brush and bar anyone with particular medical conditions from employment. The proper approach is to assess each applicant’s ability to do the job.

A federal judge ruled in favor of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Nov. 16 in its discrimination charge against Amsted Rail Co., Inc., the federal agency announced on Monday. The judge ruled that Amsted, a leading manufacturer of steel castings for the rail industry, violated federal disability law when it disqualified job applicants based on the results of a nerve conduction test for carpal tunnel syndrome rather than conducting an individualized assessment of each applicant’s ability to do the job safely.

According to the ruling in EEOC v. Amsted Rail Co., Inc., No. 14-cv-1292-JPG-SCW (S.D. Ill.), the court found that Amsted’s practice screened out job applicants based on a small statistical risk that they might develop carpal tunnel syndrome, violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The court also ruled that Amsted violated the ADA when it refused to hire Montrell Ingram because he previously had successful surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome.

In motions filed with the court last year, the EEOC asked the court to rule that Amsted’s use of the nerve conduction test was discriminatory as a matter of law, as well as its policy not to hire applicants who had previously had carpal tunnel syndrome surgery. The EEOC argued that Amsted regarded applicants as disabled because it unreasonably perceived them as at risk to develop carpal tunnel syndrome based upon previous surgery for the condition or the results of the nerve conduction test. Amsted argued that its nerve conduction test and previous surgery rule were justified to identify persons with an enhanced risk for the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.

The court rejected the majority of Amsted’s arguments and ruled that the company’s conduct was unlawful because it discriminated on the basis of disability, finding that the nerve conduction test had little to no value in predicting the likelihood of future injury.

“While Amsted would like to claim it was protecting workers, its practice denied employment opportunities to workers who were ready and able to do the job,” said Andrea G. Baran, regional attorney of the EEOC’s St. Louis District. “Employment decisions, including hiring decisions, must be based on a person’s ability to perform the job, not on stereotypes, assumptions or conjecture. An individualized assessment of the applicant’s present ability to safely perform the job duties is required before an employer may screen out an applicant based on medical tests or exams in the hiring process.”

The case is pending in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois in Benton, Ill., and will now proceed with determining damages and remedies for the applicants who were harmed by Amsted’s discriminatory conduct.

Wheels Up: Airline Forks Over $9.8M in Stock to Settle ADA Reasonable Accommodation Lawsuit

An airlines’ rigid policy of requiring all employees returning from medical leave to have no restrictions came back to bite them under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

American Airlines and Envoy Air will pay $9.8 million in stock, which is worth over $14 million if cashed in today, and provide other significant relief to settle a nationwide class disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced yesterday. The EEOC’s suit said the airlines unlawfully denied reasonable accommodations to hundreds of employees.

“This matter highlights the critical role of the Americans with Disabilities Act in getting people back to work as quickly as possible,” said EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. “The parties deserve credit for working diligently to bring this matter to resolution.”

According to the EEOC’s suit, American and Envoy violated federal law by requiring their employees to have no restrictions before they could return to work following a medical leave. Under this policy, if an employee had restrictions, American and Envoy refused to allow them to return to work and failed to determine if there were reasonable accommodations that would allow the employee to return to work with restrictions.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on disability and also requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to employees with disabilities unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer. If employees with disabilities are not able to do their current job, even with a reasonable accommodation, employers are obligated to look for a reassignment to another position for those employees.

The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, Civil Action No. 17-cv-04059-SPL, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process and continued negotiations prior to filing suit. The consent decree resolves the EEOC’s lawsuit and several charges of discrimination filed by individuals with the EEOC. The systemic investigation was conducted by the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office.

In addition to the $9.8 million in stock, the two-year decree includes injunctions against engaging in any future discrimination or retaliation based on disability, and requires the companies to adopt policies that ensure reasonable accommodations are provided to persons with disabilities. American and Envoy will provide mandatory periodic training on the ADA to employees. The settlement applies to all American and Envoy employees throughout the country.

EEOC Deputy General Counsel James L. Lee said, “We are pleased the parties were able to resolve this important case without resorting to prolonged and expensive litigation, and we are proud of the Commission’s long record of protecting people with disabilities from workplace discrimination.”

Elizabeth Cadle, district director for the Phoenix office, added, “This settlement demonstrates the need for employers to have good ADA policies. That means policies which consider employers’ obligations to provide reassignment without competition as a reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities who become unable to do their current job even with accommodations.”

EEOC Regional Attorney Mary O’Neill added, “This consent decree is the result of productive and thoughtful negotiations with American. We appreciate American and Envoy working with the EEOC to reach a settlement. In addition to providing meaningful monetary relief for hundreds of former employees, the settlement contains important equitable relief, including company policy changes and training designed to provide people with disabilities equal opportunities in the workplace.”

According to its website, http://www.aa.com, American Airlines, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, is an airline that operates an average of nearly 6,700 flights per day to nearly 350 destinations in more than 50 countries, and employs over 120,000 people.