Posts Tagged ‘EEOC lawsuit’

$322K Settlement Ends Harassment Nightmare for African American Workers at Fla. Workplace

This workplace was inhospitable to say the least for African-American employees–and now the employer is paying up.

Fanatics Retail Group Fulfillment, LLC, a Jacksonville-based online retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise, including NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and NASCAR merchandise, has agreed to pay $322,050 and furnish other relief to settle a race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced yesterday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Fanatics’ Jacksonville workplace was racially divided, and the company subjected employees to racial slurs and comments such as “We don’t need any outbreak monkeys here.”  Human resources officials tasked with overseeing discrimination policies called African-American employees “baboons.” When an employee complained about the treatment, Fanatics failed to promote him as promised, and continued to tolerate a racially hostile work environment.

Such alleged conduct violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race and retaliation for against an employee for their opposition to discrimination.

The EEOC filed its suit (Civil Action No. 3:18-cv-900-J-32PDB) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $322,050 monetary award, the consent decree provides injunctive relief to help secure a workplace free from unlawful racial harassment and retaliation in the future. This will include revision and redistribution of the company’s discrimination policy; training for human resources officials, managers, supervisors and non-management employees; posting of notice of the result of the underlying lawsuit and employee rights; creation of a hotline number to receive anonymous complaints of discrimination; and reporting to the EEOC about compliance and with details about future complaints of discrimination.

“This lawsuit revealed a racially hostile work environment no employee should have to endure,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert E. Weisberg. “This settlement seeks to correct those wrongs, prevent their reoccurrence and put employers on notice that failing to address discrimination has consequences.”

EEOC District Director Michael Farrell said, “When employers fail to put a stop to pervasive discrimination, the EEOC will do what is necessary to seek justice for victims of discrimination and to work with employers to implement policies and training to ensure such discrimination is eradicated from the workplace.”

The EEOC’s Miami District Office is comprised of the Miami, Tampa and San Juan EEOC offices, and has jurisdiction over Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Texas Medical Providers Drop Illegal Questionnaire in EEOC ADA Settlement

These medical providers in Texas won’t anymore be asking illegal medical questions of their employees and applicants.

Pulmonary Specialists of Tyler and Sleep Health, medical providers in Tyler, Texas, will pay $30,000 and will change its policies and practices to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced yesterday.

According to the lawsuit brought by the EEOC in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Tyler Division) (Civil Action No. 6:18-cv-00338-RWS), Sleep Health required employees to complete a Medical Questionnaire that contained unlawful medical inquiries that were not job related nor required by business necessity.  The EEOC alleged that the medical questionnaire asked if employees had any of over 20 listed medical conditions, whether the employee had an impairment or disability, whether the employee had previous surgery or received a permanent disability rating.  Former employee Angela Abler answered all of the questions truthfully, stating that she had been injured on-the-job in 1996, and had back surgery, and as a result, was given a permanent partial disability rating.  However, this back surgery and resulting disability did not impact her ability to perform the work of Billing/Collections Specialist. Within a week after completing the medical questionnaire, Ms. Abler was terminated.

“PSOT and Sleep Health’s requirements for unnecessarily broad disclosure of this information was by itself a violation of the ADA.  Terminating Ms. Abler’s employment based upon her answers to the unlawful questionnaire just made matters worse with yet another violation,” said Supervisory Trial Attorney Suzanne M. Anderson for the EEOC.

A three-year consent decree, signed on April 15, 2019 by U.S. District Court Judge Robert W. Schroeder III, calls for the defendants to provide monetary relief to Ms. Abler. The consent decree also specifies that the medical providers will cease use of the medical questionnaire and implement policies prohibiting discrimination against persons with disabilities.

“It can be a good thing to see businesses in the healthcare industry set an example for others when it comes to the ADA,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Canino.  “This constructive settlement is a good result for everyone involved.

Arby’s Franchisee Pays Big in Harassment Case

Parents of teenage daughters in these southern states should rest easier now with the conclusion of a sexual harassment case against a major fast food franchise.

Beavers’ Inc., owner and operator of 51 Arby’s locations in south Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle, has agreed to pay $84,000 and provide other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced April 10.

The EEOC’s Mobile office investigated charges of discrimination filed by three teenage female crew members. The lawsuit charges that Beavers’ permitted a sexually hostile work environment based on ongoing sexually explicit comments and other harassment by an older male team leader at its Atmore, Alabama location. The EEOC’s lawsuit alleged the harasser described sexual acts he wanted to perform with the teen workers, made inappropriate remarks about his anatomy, and deliberately pressed his pelvis against two of the female employees. According to the lawsuit, the three teen workers, as well as other employees, complained multiple times to on-site management about the harassment but the company allowed the harassment to continue.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment in the workplace. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Beavers’ Inc., d/b/a Arby’s, Case No. 1:18-cv-00150) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Under the 48-month consent decree resolving the suit, Beavers’ will pay $84,000 to the three harassment victims, will develop and disseminate anti-harassment policies, and will train its employees and managers on the requirements of Title VII’s prohibitions against sexual harassment. In addition, the company will instruct employees on how to report sexual harassment, and how managers should investigate complaints of sexual harassment.

“The EEOC remains committed to protecting vulnerable employees, such as teen workers in their first jobs, from a sexually hostile work environment,” said EEOC Birmingham District Director Bradley Anderson. “The EEOC is pleased that Beavers’ Inc. agreed early in the litigation process to take steps to prevent such harassment, and train its management how to promptly investigate and correct sexual harassment in the future.”

Marsha Rucker, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham District, said, “An anti-harassment policy is insufficient without proper training on how to recognize, report, and investigate sexual harassment. Employers must realize that young employees who lack workplace experience may be too intimidated to complain and need workable avenues to report harassment without further humiliation or embarrassment.”

The EEOC’s Youth@Work campaign (at http://www.eeoc.gov/youth/) is designed to teach teens and other young workers about employment discrimination. It includes curriculum guides for students and teachers and videos to help young workers learn about their rights and responsibilities.

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

Settlement Ends EEOC Suit Against Rehab Facility Over Refusal to Accommodate Pregnancy

Hopefully this employer and others in similar situations have learned their lessons about accommodation of pregnant workers.

PruittHealth-Raleigh, LLC will pay $25,000 and provide other relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced on Thursday. The EEOC charged that PruittHealth violated Title VII when it denied a reasonable accommodation to a pregnant employee with a medically imposed lifting restriction and then unlawfully required the employee to resign because of her pregnancy-related lifting restriction.

PruittHealth-Raleigh LLC, (PruittHealth) operates a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility in Raleigh, N.C. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, PruittHealth subjected Dominque Codrington, a certified nursing assistant, to disparate treatment by refusing to accommodate her pregnancy-related lifting restriction, while accommodating the restrictions of other non-pregnant employees who were injured on the job and who were similar in their ability or inability to work. The EEOC alleged that PruittHealth refused to accommodate Codrington and required her to involuntarily resign in lieu of termination.

Such alleged conduct violates Section 703(a) of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. 2000(e)-2(a), which protects employees from discrimination on the basis of sex (pregnancy) and requires employers to provide pregnant employees with the same reasonable accommodations as those provided to non-pregnant employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. PruittHealth-Raleigh, LLC; Civil Action No 5:18-cv-00165) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its concili­ation process.

In addition to the $25,000 in damages, the two-year consent decree settling the suit requires that PruittHealth adopt, implement, and distribute a formal written policy that provides the opportunity for modified duty for pregnant employees with medically imposed, pregnancy-related work restrictions on the same basis that modified duty is provided to non-pregnant employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work. PruittHealth also must provide annual training to its managers and supervisors at its Raleigh facility on the requirements of Title VII, specifically, the requirement that employers not take adverse employment actions against an employee based on her pregnancy.

“Employers must treat the work restrictions of pregnant employees just like those of non-pregnant employees,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “Companies must be careful not to violate federal anti-discrimination law when they pick and choose which employees to accommodate.”

EEOC Recovers $60K for Man Denied Job After Checking “Female” During Background Review

A transgender job applicant got some justice after the company he applied to work for rejected him because of how he answered a background investigation inquiry.

Colorado tire company A&E Tire, Inc. will pay $60,000 and provide other significant relief to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Monday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, A&E Tire offered a job to Egan Woodward, but did not hire him after it learned that he was transgender. The EEOC alleged that A&E Tire offered Mr. Woodward the job subject to a background check but then called Mr. Woodward when it saw that he had checked female on his background screening paperwork. According to the EEOC, A&E Tire then decided not to hire Mr. Woodward and ultimately hired someone else for the position.

The EEOC settled the lawsuit after months of discovery and a court order denying A&E Tire’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. In denying the motion to dismiss, the district court held that the lawsuit could proceed because the EEOC plausibly alleged that A&E Tire had not hired Mr. Woodward because he did not conform to sex stereotypes. In doing so, the district court recognized that discrimination against transgender individuals is discrimination based on sex stereotyping because transgender individuals identify as a sex different from their birth-assigned sex.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on sex. The EEOC filed this suit in the District of Colorado (EEOC v. A&E Tire, Inc., Civil Action No. 17-cv-02362-RBJ), seeking monetary and injunctive relief. Mr. Woodward intervened, also alleging that A&E Tire violated Title VII. The consent decree resolving this lawsuit provides that A&E Tire will pay Mr. Woodward $60,000 and send him a letter of apology. The consent decree also requires A&E Tire to make clear in its employment policies that it will not tolerate sex discrimination, including discrimination based on sex stereotyping and transgender status, and to train its managers and employees on the laws prohibiting those forms of discrimination.

“We appreciate A&E Tire’s agreement to settle this lawsuit, and we are proud to have obtained an effective resolution that compensates Egan for what he experienced and helps ensure that other transgender applicants and employees will be treated fairly,” said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office. “The settlement underscores the EEOC’s commitment to eradicating all forms of sex discrimination, including discrimination against LGBTQ individuals.”

EEOC Denver Field Office Director Amy Burkholder added, “The EEOC has been successful for many years protecting transgender applicants and employees from discrimination based on sex. I am pleased we were able to work out an agreement in this matter.”

Garbage Time: EEOC Recovers $32K for Woman Refused Interview for Waste Truck Driver Position

If a woman wants to drive a garbage truck, her gender can’t be allowed to stand in the way of her getting fair consideration for the job.

American Pride Waste Solutions, Inc., a Bluffton, S.C., waste disposal company, will pay $32,500 and furnish other relief to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced April 2.

The EEOC filed suit in April 2018, charging that American Pride violated federal law by failing to interview or hire Christina Rivers for a waste truck driver position because of her gender. Rivers was fully qualified to work as a driver, holding a commercial driver’s license and having experience driving large trucks. In April 2016, Rivers applied to work for American Pride, but was never interviewed despite her qualifications. American Pride has never hired a female driver and offered inconsistent and varying ex­cuses for its failure to interview Rivers, who it admitted was qualified to be interviewed.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from engaging in sex discrimination. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 9:18-cv-00912-DCN-JDA) in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settle­ment through its conciliation process.

In addition to providing monetary damages to Rivers, the consent decree settling the suit requires American Pride to update and disseminate anti-discrimination policies that prohibit discrimination. The decree also requires that the company provide annual equal employment opportunity training to its managers, supervisors, and employees. The two-year decree further requires the company to post a notice to its employees about the lawsuit and to provide periodic reporting to the EEOC about complaints of discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation.

“The law does not allow employers to cut off job opportunities because of an employee’s sex,” said Darrell Graham, acting director of the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “Ms. Rivers should have been interviewed and given a fair chance to have that job.”

Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the Atlanta District Office, added, “The EEOC is pleased that the company has agreed to settle this matter and implement policies and procedures that are condu­cive to a work environment free of sex discrimination. Women who are qualified and apply for jobs should be treated fairly and given the opportunity to follow their chosen careers.”

Trucking Company Succumbs, Pays $250K to Settle ADA Suit Over Pre-Employment Screening

Screen-setting is a good thing in basketball because it frees up a player for an uncontested shot, but it can backfire when applied to hiring employees.

National trucking company JBS Carriers, Inc. will pay $250,000 and furnish other significant relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, JBS Carriers contracted with a third party, ErgoMed Work Systems, Inc., to administer pre-employment screening of applicants for truck driving jobs. The EEOC alleged that this process unlawfully screened out people with disabilities who were qualified for the truck driving jobs they sought. The screening subjected all applicants to a medical history questionnaire, a physical examination, and nine physical abilities tests. If an applicant failed any one of the tests or was prevented by ErgoMed from taking the tests based on information obtained from the questionnaire or during the physical examination, ErgoMed sent JBS Carriers a negative job recom­mendation. The lawsuit alleged that JBS Carriers then withdrew conditional job offers to applicants based on ErgoMed’s recom­mendations.

For example, the EEOC alleged in its suit that one applicant, Cindy Divine, had over 30 years of commercial truck driving experience. After JBS Carriers offered her a job, Divine traveled to Greeley, Colo. to complete the screening. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, ErgoMed concluded that she had disqualifying issues with her shoulders, even though Divine told ErgoMed’s examiner that she was only sore from carrying heavy luggage from the bus stop to her motel. ErgoMed prevented Divine from completing its physical tests and provided a negative recommendation to JBS Carriers, which then withdrew her job offer.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employment discrimination based on disability and makes it illegal for employers to impose standards or criteria for job applicants that have the effect of discriminating based on disability or that screen out individuals with disabilities. In its suit (EEOC v. JBS Carriers, Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-02498-CMA-NRN (D. Colo.)), the EEOC charged that the pre-employment screening required by JBS Carriers and administered by ErgoMed violated the ADA because it excluded qualified applicants with disabilities. The EEOC also alleged that by relying on ErgoMed’s screening without giving individual consideration to job applicants, JBS Carriers discrim­inated against job applicants based on disability and failed to provide reasonable accommodations.

The settlement payment of $250,000 will be distributed among five individuals who were adversely impacted by the ErgoMed screening and who participated in the EEOC’s investigation.

After years of using the ErgoMed screen, JBS Carriers halted the practice, and now only requires job applicants to obtain the Department of Transportation (DOT) medical certification necessary to be a licensed commercial truck driver. Under the consent decree settling the EEOC’s lawsuit, JBS Carriers will not contract with ErgoMed for three years and will not implement any physical or medical screening for conditional hires apart from the DOT medical certification and a urine analysis. JBS Carriers will also provide training on the ADA to its employees, appoint an ADA coordinator, review and revise its ADA policies, and report semi-annually to the EEOC on how the company has addressed reports of disability discrimination and requests for accommodation.

“We applaud the efforts by JBS Carriers to reach an early resolution with the EEOC that provides both meaningful monetary relief and important equitable relief,” said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office. “The company’s willingness to cease the screening practices at issue shows a commitment to ensuring that all individuals qualified for a job have a level playing field and an equal opportunity for hiring.”

EEOC Denver Field Office Director Amy Burkholder added, “The ADA prohibits arbitrary medical screens and onerous physical tests which prevent individuals from getting jobs for which they are qualified. The EEOC will continue to be vigilant of contracting arrangements that employers may have with companies like ErgoMed.”

JBS Carriers is the transportation affiliate of multinational meat processor JBS USA. JBS Carriers is based in Greeley and operates throughout the United States, with terminals in Greeley; Green Bay, Wis.; Hyrum, Utah; Cactus, Texas; Pittsburg, Texas; and Oakwood, Ga.