Posts Tagged ‘EEOC lawsuit’

Hotel Ignored Harassment, Now Must Pay Up in EEOC Settlement in Case Involving Housekeeper

This hotel turned a blind eye to sexual harassment going on right under its nose.

The DoubleTree Hotel in Jefferson City, Mo. will pay $45,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, an operator of the DoubleTree Hotel in Jefferson City violated federal law when it allowed a male room inspector to sexually harass a female housekeeper. Specifically, the EEOC alleges that Vinca Enterprises, Inc., which operates this DoubleTree Hotel in Missouri’s capital city, failed to stop the room inspector from regularly making offensive sexual comments and engaging in unwanted physical contact with a female house­keeper.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting it. The EEOC’s suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Vinca Enterprises, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:20-cv-04021-NKL) alleges that although management and an owner were aware of the inspector’s unwelcome comments and behavior, Vinca failed to investigate or take appropriate action to stop the unlawful harassment and protect the employee.

The two-year consent decree settling the suit, entered by Judge Nanette K. Laughrey, requires Vinca Enterprises to pay compensatory damages to the housekeeper. In addition, Vinca Enterprises will take steps to prevent future discrimination and harassment against employees. Vinca will hire a consultant to assess workplace risk factors associated with sexual harassment; report the consultant’s findings to the EEOC; implement stronger policies and procedures prohibiting sexual harassment and discrimination; provide all employees with and clear guidance on sexual harassment; establish investigation procedures; and report sexual harassment complaints to the EEOC.

“Employers are responsible for preventing workplace harassment. Unfortunately, housekeeping employees at hotels are particularly vulnerable to such harassment and often believe they have no recourse,” said Andrea G. Baran, the EEOC’s Regional Attorney in St. Louis. “Sexual harassment is unlawful and bad for business.”

L. Jack Vasquez, director of the EEOC’s St. Louis District office, said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The EEOC is committed to preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. But when harassment does occur, we encourage affected employees to report the harassment to their employers and, if necessary, to the EEOC to ensure the unlawful conduct does not continue.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, including sexual harassment. The St. Louis District office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and a portion of southern Illinois.

Software Publisher to Reform Training Practices, Pay $200K in ADA Hiring Settlement With EEOC

As the nation marks the 30th anniversary of the ADA, a reminder we have a ways to go to make sure qualified applicants can compete fairly for jobs.

Foster City-based software publisher Guidewire Software, Inc. will pay $200,000 and hire a consultant to facilitate changes to its policies and training practices 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 suit, Guidewire invited a qualified applicant to participate in a phone screening for a position at the company based on her online application and resume. The applicant asked to have an in-person interview to accommodate her limited ability to clearly hear sounds via telephone and computer. But after briefly discussing potential accommodations with the applicant, and despite internally approving her request for an in-person interview, Guidewire never contacted her again, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which pro­hibits employers from discriminating based on disability or perceived disability. The EEOC filed suit on Oct. 22, 2019 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, Case No. 5:19-cv-06878-LHK, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

The consent decree settling the lawsuit provides $200,000 in lost wages and compensa­tory damages to the applicant. Guidewire will also implement policies and procedures regarding reasonable accommodations, including permitting applicants to appeal denials of requests for accommodation. The company will also provide annual training to certain managers and human resource personnel, and report to the EEOC during the decree’s three-year term.

“This individual just wanted the chance to compete fairly with the other applicants for the job,” said EEOC Trial Attorney James H. Baker. “The law requires that employers provide appli­cants with disabilities with the reasonable accommodations needed to do just that.”

EEOC Director for the San Francisco District Office William Tamayo added, “Elimin­ating barriers in recruiting and hiring for individuals with disabilities is a top priority for the EEOC. We commend Guidewire’s willingness to promptly resolve this lawsuit and to imple­ment robust ADA policies and procedures.”

In fiscal year 2019, the EEOC recovered over $116,000,000 stemming from alleged violations involving the ADA.

Guidewire is a software publisher for property and casualty insurers. Founded in 2001, it employs more than 2,200 employees at dozens of locations around the world.

EEOC: McDonald’s Manager Harassed Teen

Teenagers are entitled to the law’s protections against sexual harassment just like their older peers.

Par Ventures, Inc., a North Carolina corporation which operates a chain of seven McDonald’s fast food restaurants, will pay $12,500 and provide other relief to settle a sexual harass­ment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced July 17. The EEOC had charged that Par Ventures violated federal law when it subjected a teenaged female employee to a sexually hostile work environment.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a male “people manager” at Par Ventures’ Parmlee Drive McDonald’s in Fayetteville sexually harassed the employee, who was only 16 years old at the time. The EEOC charged that she was subjected to sexual comments, sexual requests, and unwanted touching from her male supervisor. The complaint alleged that the supervisor offered her money for nude pictures of herself, asked her explicit sexual questions, and ultimately sexually assaulted her.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, which violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division (EEOC v. Par Ventures, Inc. d/b/a McDonald’s, Civil Action No 5:19-cv-00341-FL) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary con­ciliation process.

In addition to the $12,500 in monetary relief for the discrimination victim, the five-year consent decree settling the lawsuit requires Par Ventures to revise its policy on sexual harassment and to post a notice concerning the lawsuit and employee rights under federal anti-discrimination laws. Par Ventures must also conduct annual training for all employees on the requirements of Title VII and its prohibition against sexual harassment in the workplace, and on the company’s sexual harassment policy. The decree also requires Par Ventures to report all employee complaints about sex-based conduct or comments to the EEOC.

“Employers must especially heighten their awareness of the harassment of teenage workers – one of the most vulnerable segments of the labor force – and actively take steps to prevent it,” said Kara Gibbon Haden, acting regional attorney of the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office.

The EEOC’s Youth@Work website (at http://www.eeoc.gov/youth/ ) presents information for teens and other young workers about employment discrimination, including curriculum guides for students and teachers and videos to help young workers learn about their rights and responsibilities.

EEOC: Buddhist Pilot Was Due Accommodation To Attend Non-AA Alcohol Treatment Program

An employer’s insistence that an employee must attend AA treatment program has got it into trouble with the feds.

United Airlines discriminated against a Buddhist pilot on the basis of his religion when it refused to modify its addiction treatment program to change a requirement that conflicted with his religious beliefs, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed Monday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the pilot was diagnosed with alcohol dependency and lost the medical certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). United operates a program for its pilots with substance abuse problems that provides them treatment and sponsors them to obtain new medical certificates from the FAA. One of the requirements of United’s program is that pilots regularly attend Alcoholics Anonymous (“AA”). The pilot, who is Buddhist, objected to the religious content of AA and sought to substitute regular attendance at a Buddhism-based peer support group. United refused to accommodate his religious objection and, as a result, the pilot was unable to obtain a new FAA medical certificate permitting him to fly again, the agency charged.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on religion, which includes the requirement to make a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs, as long as doing so does not impose an undue hardship on the employer’s business. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey (EEOC v. United Airlines Inc., Civil Action No. 20-cv-9110) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency’s litigation effort will be led by Senior Trial Attorney Sebastian Riccardi.

“Employers have the affirmative obligation to modify their policies to accommodate employees’ religious beliefs,” said EEOC New York Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein. “Despite this obligation, United was inflexible and refused to make a modest change its program that would have caused them no hardship.”

EEOC New York District Director Judy Keenan added, “The EEOC stands ready to protect employees against discrimination on the basis of their religion.”

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

Bad Odor: Septic Tank Co. Owner Harassed, Retaliated Against Male Employee, EEOC Alleges

The stench from this situation hopefully will be abated by this lawsuit.

Shelley’s Septic Tank, Inc, a Zellwood, Fla. company, violated federal law when a driver was sexually harassed by the company’s owner and discharged in retaliation for complaining to the sheriff’s office about the harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed yesterday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the company’s owner, David Shelley, repeatedly made sexually charged comments to a male employee and engaged in unwelcome physical contact with the employee. After repeatedly objecting to the harassment, the employee reported it to the sheriff. The EEOC said that owner found out about it and, four days after the employee’s complaint, retaliated against the employee by firing him.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who object to such discrimination.

The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida (EEOC v. Shelley’s Septic Tank, Inc., Case No. 6:20-cv-01285) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay, front pay, compensatory and punitive damages for the discrimination victim, and injunctive relief.

“Both men and women are protected from sexual harassment under Title VII,” said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District Office. “Sexual harassment will not be tolerated by the EEOC regardless of the sex of the victim or harasser.”

“The EEOC also will not tolerate retaliation against harassment victims,” added Evangeline Hawthorne, director of the EEOC’s Tampa Field Office. “Protecting victims’ right to oppose discrimination by reporting inappropriate conduct in the workplace is paramount to EEOC’s mission.”

The EEOC’s Miami District Office is comprised of the Miami, Tampa, and San Juan offices and has jurisdiction over most of Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The EEOC’s Miami District employs multiple bilingual investigators who speak English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, French and Portuguese.

The Eyes Have It: Employer Settles Suit With EEOC Over Firing of Employee With Glaucoma

Having glaucoma is not a fireable offense. What matters is whether the person can do the job despite the impairment.

Brock Services, LLC, has agreed to pay $35,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced yesterday.

According to the EEOC, Brock Services forced an employee to take three eye examinations after learning he had a vision impairment related to glaucoma in one eye. Despite his glaucoma, the eight-year employee could perform the essential functions of his position.  After the third exam, Brock Services fired the employee.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) which prohibits discrimination based on an employee’s disability. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division (Civil Action No. 1:19 cv 00212) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

“The EEOC will continue to ensure employers understand their assumptions about an individual’s disability should play no role in their workplace decisions,” said Rudy Sustaita, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Houston.

The 15 month consent decree prohibits Brock Services from engaging in similar discriminatory conduct in the future. The company has also agreed to conduct disability discrimination training programs for managerial employees.

The EEOC’s Houston District Office has jurisdiction over parts of East Texas and all of Louisiana.

Broadcast Blues: CBS Affiliate Pays $215K to Settle Age Suit Over Hiring of Traffic Reporter

Be careful when hiring someone based on an amorphous “it” standard.

CBS Stations Group of Texas will pay $215,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a federal age discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced Monday.

CBS Stations Group of Texas is a division of New York-based CBS Corporation. CBS Corporation owns and operates a group of 29 television stations throughout the United States, including a Dallas/Fort Worth television station, KTXA, Inc., locally known as “CBS 11.”

The EEOC charged that CBS violated federal law when it refused to hire Tammy Dombeck Campbell for a full-time traffic reporter position at the Dallas/Fort Worth station because of her age. The EEOC said that Campbell had worked for CBS 11 as a freelance, non-staff traffic reporter.

When the station’s morning full-time traffic reporter resigned in October 2014, the company initiated a search for a replacement. The CBS job announcement stated that “the ideal candidate” would have a strong knowledge of local traffic in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and that the “applicant must have at least five years professional broadcasting experience.” The EEOC said that CBS 11 hired a 24-year-old applicant for the full-time traffic reporter position. The younger applicant was a former NFL cheerleader, and the EEOC maintained that the she did not meet the hiring criteria CBS had advertised. CBS 11 also had made an offer to a 27-year old applicant who accepted and then withdrew from the hiring process.

Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which prohibits discrimination against people age 40 or older. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. CBS Stations Group of Texas; Television Station KTXA and KTVT-TV, Civil Action No. 3:17-cv-02624) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Under the consent decree signed by U.S. District Chief Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn, resolving the suit, CBS Stations Group of Texas will pay will pay $215,000 to Ms. Campbell and commits not to engage in age discrimination. The company will also provide training on the ADEA, publish a notice of employee rights, and report to the EEOC on its compliance with the requirements of consent decree.

“Tammy Campbell was clearly qualified for the position of traffic reporter,” said Joel Clark, EEOC senior trial attorney for the Dallas District Office. “The EEOC argued to the court that CBS 11 preferred a younger, less qualified applicant, and that the employer defaulted to unfounded stereotypes about female reporters.”

EEOC Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino added, “In explaining its decision, the company relied on what was called the ‘it’ factor. The EEOC was prepared to prove that, for Ms. Campbell, ‘it’ was her age. We hope that the resolution of this case will be another step forward in moving past ageist attitudes that can limit opportunities in the field of broadcast television.”

Revelation: EEOC, Employer Settle ADA Case Over Firing of Employee For Disclosing Disability

Revealing a disability is not a fireable offense.

A Wauseon, Ohio knife manufacturer will pay $20,900 in back pay and non-economic damages and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced July 1. The EEOC charged that Busse Combat Knife Company violated federal law by discharging a worker after he revealed a disability.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the employee left work early when he experienced a problem related to his disability. After he notified his supervisor of the problem, the owner of the company asked him why he had not disclosed his disability at hire and ordered him to provide a medical note clearing him to work. The employee submitted the note, but the employer then fired him because of his disability, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which mandates that covered employers not fire employees because of a disability. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Toledo (Case No. 3:18-cv-00144) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the monetary relief, the one-year consent decree resolving the suit provides for injunctive relief including review of, and possible revisions to, Busse’s discrimination policies and training for the owner and supervisor on the requirements of the ADA.

“The ADA is clear: an employer cannot fire an employee because he reveals a disability,” said Dale Price, the EEOC attorney who handled the case. “The training and review of the policies under the consent decree provide meaningful protections for the employees of Busse Combat Knife. With this resolution, the defendant has taken a positive step towards protecting the rights of employees with disabilities in the workplace.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov. The EEOC’s Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and parts of Ohio.

Blacks, Women Beneficiaries of EEOC $568K Settlement With Illinois Temp Staffing Agencies

It’s a more level playing field now for minority and female applicants applying for jobs through these temp agencies.

Personnel Staffing Group, LLC, doing business as Most Valuable Personnel (MVP), and MVP Workforce, LLC will pay $568,500 to resolve a race and sex discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced June 29.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, temporary employment agencies MVP and MVP Workforce dis­criminated against black and female applicants and employees by refusing to send them on work assign­ments or by sending them for fewer work hours. The EEOC’s suit charges that the companies did so either on their own initiative or to honor the discriminatory requests of clients who did not want black workers or sought only men for certain assignments.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of race and sex. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago (EEOC v. Personnel Staffing Group, LLC d/b/a Most Valuable Personnel and MVP Workforce, LLC, Civil Action No. 1:20-cv-03683 on June 24, 2020. The suit involves MVP and MVP Workforce locations in Cicero, Joliet and Franklin Park, Ill. The court approved the parties’ proposed consent decree resolving the litigation on June 29, 2020.

As a result of negotiations before EEOC filed its suit, EEOC and MVP and MVP Workforce agreed on a two-and-a-half-year consent decree. Under its terms, MVP and MVP Workforce are enjoined from engaging in race or sex discrimination in their referrals and from retaliation in the future. MVP Workforce will adopt a process to identify qualified applicants or employees for temporary work assignments; inform applicants and employees how to complain of discrimination; create and maintain records of all applicant information; provide periodic reports to EEOC about its applicants, referrals, and any complaints of race or sex discrimination; and train employees who are involved in the hiring and assignment process about Title VII. MVP, which is not currently doing business in Illinois, must implement the same measures if it resumes operations in Illinois.

The monetary relief paid by MVP and MVP Workforce will also resolve similar claims of race and sex discrimination brought in the related lawsuits Cox, et al. v. Personnel Staffing Group, LLC, Case No. 16 C 11282 (N.D. Ill.); Hunt, et al. v. Personnel Staffing Group, LLC, dba MVP, et al., Case No. 16 C 11086 (N.D. Ill.); Smith, et al. v. MVP Workforce, LLC, et al., Case No. 18 C 03718 (N.D. Ill.)

“The EEOC appreciates MVP and MVP Workforce’s willingness to work with the agency to resolve this matter without protracted litigation to provide relief to victims of discrimination and undertake measures to prevent future discrimination,” said Gregory Gochanour, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago.

Julianne Bowman, EEOC’s district director in Chicago added, “Temporary agencies, like other emp­loyers, are prohibited under federal law from discriminating based on race or sex in work assignments, even if it is their clients who are making the discriminatory requests. When a temp agency complies with such requests, it violates the law.”

The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of 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.

Talk to Me: Absence of Dialogue Over Disabled Employee Cited in ADA Settlement With Employer

This is ADA 101: You must engage a disabled employee in dialogue to determine if they can do the job.

ASICS America Corporation will pay $49,650 to a former employee to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced yesterday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a temporary staffing agency assigned a worker with hearing and speech disabilities to work at ASICS’s warehouse distribution center in Byhalia, Miss. After the worker completed an orientation meeting, members of ASICS’s human resources department told her the com­pany could not employ her due to her disabilities and failed to engage in the interactive process with the worker to determine whether she could perform the essential functions of the position.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, Oxford Division, Civil Action No. 3:19-cv-00227, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

ASICS will pay the former employee $10,000 in back pay and $39,650 in compensatory damages. ASICS also agreed to implement non-monetary remedies at its Byhalia, Miss. location, to: review and revise its written policy on disability discrimination to explain the process to request a reasonable accommodation; disseminate the policy to all employees and have them sign and acknowledge receipt within 90 days of entry of the decree; and train all managers and human resources employees on disability discrimination and reasonable accommodations.

“The ADA ensures that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to achieve success in the workplace,” said Faye A. Williams, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and portions of Mississippi. “The EEOC commends ASICS and its attorneys for working with the agency to resolve this lawsuit to the satisfaction of all.”

Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director of the Memphis District Office, said, “Employers should ascertain whether their employment handbooks are updated so supervisors, managers, and employees know what the ADA requires.”