Posts Tagged ‘EEOC suit’

EEOC: Pa. Company Underpaid Women

Female support staff at this Pennsylvania company have an ally in the Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission in their attempt to secure fair pay.

Fastenal Company, an international industrial and construction supply  distributor, violated federal law when it paid female sales support employees  lower wages than men, the EEOC charged in a lawsuit it announced September 5.

According  to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Fastenal paid two female sales support employees lower  hourly wages than their male coworkers at its Manchester, Pa., facility, even  though the women were doing substantially equal work. One of the women trained  two of her male coworkers when they were hired, yet she received lower wages, the  EEOC charges.

Such  alleged conduct violates the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil  Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Fastenal Company, Civil Action  No. 1:18-cv-01753-CCC)  in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania after first  attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation  process.

“Women  should be paid equal wages when they do the same work as male coworkers,” said EEOC  Philadelphia District Office Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “Fairness and  federal law require it.”

EEOC  Philadelphia District Office Director Jamie R. Williamson added, “Remedying pay  discrimination is a priority issue for the EEOC.”

The  EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office is one of four offices in the Philadelphia  District, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West  Virginia 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.

EEOC Sues Dialysis Clinic Over Leave Policy

Once again the EEOC is taking on an employer over its application of a medical leave policy. This time it is nationwide healthcare provider Dialysis Clinic Inc. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit filed today in California, the clinic violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by firing and refusing to rehire a long-term nurse who needed more medical leave to complete her cancer treatment.

The EEOC alleges that DCI notified the nurse by mail that she was being terminated for exceeding the time limit dictated by its medical leave policy. DCI took this action even though the nurse was on approved medical leave and was cleared by her doctor to return to work without restrictions in less than two months.

In this situation, the employer has a duty to offer a reasonable accommodation unless undue hardship would result.

The nurse was told that she would have to reapply for open positions,  but when she did apply over two months later, she was rejected, and not long after, DCI hired a newly licensed nurse, the EEOC is alleging.

“Given the ADA’s mandate, I would urge employers to be flexible concerning leave extensions if it causes no undue hardship,” said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo. “Ms. Lee had over 30 years’ experience in dialysis treatment and really wanted to work. Our investigation showed that she only needed two more months to return to work. Why sacrifice a valuable employee with a good record over an arbitrary time limit?”

Here’s the EEOC’s announcement of the lawsuit.

N.J. Hospital to Pay $1.35 Million to Settle EEOC’s Lawsuit Alleging Leave Policy Violated ADA

The EEOC doesn’t like maximum leave policies. If you put a cap on the leave you will allow your employees to take for medical leave, you’d better have a policy flexible enough that permits employees who have used up their leave to take more leave as a reasonable accommodation. Otherwise, you are asking to be sued.

Latest case in point. Earlier this month the EEOC announced it had settled an American With Disabilities Act lawsuit against a N.J. healthcare system that it said had illegally imposed a 12-week cap on leave and fired workers who were out of work for longer than that.

According to the EEOC, Princeton Healthcare System, which operates an inpatient hospital and several outpatient medical facilities, limited employee leave to a maximum of 12 weeks, tracking  the requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

“PHCS’s policy meant that employees who were not eligible for FMLA leave were fired after being absent for a short time, and many more were fired once they were out more than 12 weeks,” the EEOC said in announcing the case had been settled for $1.35 million.

Under the settlement, PHCS is prohibited from having a blanket policy that limits the amount of leave time an employee covered by the ADA may take.  It must instead engage in an interactive process with covered employees, including employees with a disability related to pregnancy, when deciding how much leave is needed.

In addition, it can no longer require employees returning from disability leave to present a fitness for duty certification stating that they are able to return to work without any restrictions. PHCS also agreed that it will not subject employees to progressive discipline for ADA-related absences, and will provide training on the ADA to its workforce.

So an important point to consider: Pregnancy, as a temporary disability, may necessitate more than 12 weeks or other fixed leave.

Read more about the settlement here.

EEOC Sues Furniture Store for Pregnancy Bias

I’ve written about pregnancy discrimination so much that I must sound like a broken record. But it’s because employers keeping making the same mistake, tripping all over themselves when a pregnant woman presents herself for hiring.

If you remember nothing else, remember this: You cannot refuse to hire a woman because she is pregnant.

Sounds simple, right? But according to the EEOC, a Manhattan-based office furniture store lost sight of that simple truth when it considered the application of a pregnant woman for a full-time controller position.

According to the EEOC, when Benhar Office Interiors LLC learned from the staffing company that arranged the applicant’s interview that she was pregnant, its president supposedly responded to that news by stating that “might be a deal breaker.”

The applicant was not hired, but about one week later, the store hired a non-pregnant applicant for the position, the EEOC said.

If the EEOC can prove its case, it will go after the store for back pay and other relief.

As a reminder, Title VII prohibits denying a woman a job because she is pregnant. In addition, after she is hired, or if a woman becomes pregnant while in employment, the employer must treat her the same in terms of leave and other benefits as any other employee, man or woman, with a temporary medical condition.

Here’s more information about the case.

Hawaii Retailer Pays $60K to Settle EEOC’s Suit Brought on Behalf of Fired Pregnant Employe

It continues to amaze me how employers trip up on a woman’s pregnancy and fail to realize that she has legal protections on the job, specifically the right to be treated the same as anyone else with a temporary medical condition.

Those legal protections apply to infertility treatments, too.  According to the EEOC, a Hawaii retail store violated Title VII’s pregnancy discrimination act in how it treated a female employee after she disclosed she was undergoing fertility treatments. First, in response to that disclosure, it disciplined her. Second, it fired her after she disclosed she was pregnant and had to curtail her work-related travel.

The employer-Step Three, Ltd.–agreed to pay $60,000 to resolve the violation, the EEOC said.

“Pregnancy discrimination remains a problem that forces qualified women out of the workplace,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, whose jurisdiction includes Hawaii.  “We commend Step Three for working closely with the EEOC toward the early resolution of this case and the equal treatment for employees who are pregnant or disabled.”

Whatever state you’re in–Hawaii, Alaska, or the lower 48–please remember that you are subject to Title VII’s prohibition against treating a woman any less well than you would treat any other employee simply because she is pregnant, or also, as in this case, trying to get pregnant.

Here’s the EEOC’s press release on the settlement.

Honololu Restaurant Settles Lawsuit by EEOC; Managers Allegedly Harassed Female Employees

Women who work at Señor Frog’s, a popular Mexican-themed restaurant and bar in Honolulu, won’t have to worry about being vicims of sexual harassment any more, provided the company that operated the business follows through on its commitment under a settlement the EEOC announced today.

According to the commission, 13 employees of the restaurant were either sexually harasssed or retaliated against between 2007 and 2012. The EEOC charged that male managers at the restaurant subjected the female workers to sexual comments, language and advances, and unwelcome physical contact.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the EEOC also charged that the restaurant passed women over for promotion, assigned them less favorable shifts and paid them less than male employees.

The restaurant at which these alleged violations occurred has since closed. Under terms of the settlement, if La Rana Hawaii LLC opens another Senor Frog’s restaurant, it must create and distribute an anti-harassment policy and train all of its supervisors to prevent any future harassment, discrimination, or harassment from occurring.

Here’s more on the settlement.

As an aside, anyone who’s been paying attention knows that today is the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination. It’s interesting to recall that when he was killed, there was as yet no Civil Rights Act of 1964, Age Discrimination in Employment, Americans With Disabilities Act, no Executive Orders forbidding discrimination by government contractors.

The one major civil rights law that Kennedy signed–the Equal Pay Act–addressed unfair compensaton practices toward women.  An important, but small, slice of the civil rights pie.

Kennedy had at least rhetorically committed the federal government to enacting civil rights legislation prior to his death, and I’m sure he would very proud today-and astounded– to see the progress we’ve made since then. But he’d also acknowledge that there’s more work to be done.

Employer Illegally Required Medical Exams, Probed Family Medical History, EEOC Alleges

This is one of the reasons we have an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. To prevent an employer from squeezing medical information from job applicants and then using it against them in hiring decisions. And the outrage is compounded when the employer asks the applicant about his or her family medical history.

How is any of this information relevant to a hiring decision? It isn’t, and that’s why the EEOC last week sued a California company that did exactly these things, violating the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination At.

According to the complaint, these actions of the Abbati Group, which provides seeds and fertilizer, and three subsidiaries resulted in at least one applicant being denied a job.

That person reluctantly disclosed that he’d been hospitalized one time for a heart condition that other family members also shared–from which the employer concluded he was disabled and unfit for employment, the EEOC alleged.

Read more about the case here.