Posts Tagged ‘retaliation’

$165K Settlement Concludes EEOC’s Race Bias Lawsuit Against Wash. Sporting Goods Retailer

This sporting goods retailer concluded it wasn’t worth it to further fight race bias and retaliation claims.

Sporting goods retailer Big 5 Corporation will pay $165,000 and provide other relief to settle a racial discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Sept. 18.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Big 5’s store manager and assistant managers in Oak Harbor, a town on Whidbey Island, Wash., subjected management trainee Robert Sanders to ongoing racial harassment and death threats. Sanders was the only African-American employee at the Whidbey Island location. Sanders was called “spook,” “boy,” and “King Kong” and was told that he had the “face of a janitor.” The litany of unremedied racial comments escalated when an assistant manager allegedly said, “We will hang you. We will seriously lynch you if you call in again this week.”

The EEOC said that another assistant manager asked Sanders if he was “ready to commit suicide,” offering “assistance” when he was ready to do so. Sanders was forced to go on several leaves due to stress from the ongoing racial harassment, threats, and retaliatory work assignments and discipline, according to the agency. Big 5 ultimately terminated Sanders.

Racial harassment and retaliation violate Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (EEOC v. Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp., Civil Number 2:17-CV-01098) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. Sanders was also represented by private attorneys Scott G. Thomas and Terry Venneberg.

The three-year consent decree settling the lawsuit provides $165,000 to Sanders in lost wages and compensatory damages. The decree also requires Big 5 to train its employees, supervisors, managers and investigators on preventing and reporting workplace racial harassment and retaliation under Title VII. Big 5 will also ensure that its anti-harassment workplace policies prohibit harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

EEOC attorney Carmen Flores said, “Title VII protects all employees so that they can work in a setting free from racial slurs and retaliation. Employers must be vigilant, listen to workers who reach out for help, and take appropriate action.”

Nancy Sienko, director of the EEOC’s Seattle Field Office, commented, “This settlement should send a clear signal to all employers. The consent decree requires corrective measures to help guarantee that next time, Big 5 will move quickly to stop threatening and illegal behavior.”

According to company information, Big 5 Sporting Goods (www.big5sportinggoods.com) is a retailer headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., and operates 435 stores and employs 9,000 people in eleven western states.

EEOC Cites N.Y.-Based Materials Company for “Ugly Mix” of Sexism, Racism, and Xenophobia

This workplace is a noxious stew of lots of abominable behavior toward women and minorities, according to federal law enforcement officials.

Porous Materials, Inc. (PMI), an Ithaca, N.Y.-based operator and manufacturer of testing equipment for porous materials, subjected its employees to an ugly mix of sexism, racism, and xenophobia and violated federal law prohibiting harassment and retaliation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed September 17.

The EEOC charges that a plant manager used racial slurs, called foreign-born employees “terrorists,” and told the only black employee that her husband should work in a cotton field with a rope around his neck. He then told her to drink Kool-Aid to calm down and fired her for complaining about his racist statements. He also complained that he was “sick” of immigrants stealing American jobs and not speaking English, forbade employees from speaking other languages, and urged immigrant employees to leave America.

The EEOC’s suit also charges that the plant manager was similarly abusive toward women: he loudly called women “bitches,” complained about their “PMS’ing,” and said that women could not perform a “man’s job.” He told a woman she would have to “come over here and sexually harass me” to be sent home early; made other unwanted sexual advances; said a woman was too “fat and disgusting” to have sex with her husband; and commented on female employees’ “buns” and “curves.” The company owner, rather than putting a stop to this, behaved similarly; he called female employees “dumb women,” complained that “these women can’t do anything,” and told a woman she would not be getting a raise because of her sex.

All this alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination-including harassment-because of sex, national origin or race, as well as retaliation.

The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York (EEOC v. Porous Materials, Inc., Civil Action No. 3:18-cv-01099) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief. The agency’s litigation effort will be led by Trial Attorney Daniel Seltzer and Supervisory Trial Attorney Nora Curtin.

“Businesses may think that permitting sex-, race- and national origin-based harassment in the workplace is acceptable,” said Seltzer. “It isn’t, and those who do so will be held accountable.”

Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office, added, “Employers cannot ignore harassment, let alone fire employees who report it. If employers fail to protect their workers, the EEOC will.”

According to Kevin Berry, the EEOC’s New York district director, “Preventing harassment and protecting immigrant workers are EEOC priorities that will continue to be pursued vigorously.”

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. The Buffalo Local Office conducted the investigation resulting in this lawsuit.

EEOC Yanks Teamsters Union’s Chain to Tune of $135K to Resolve Fair Representation Claims

Employers aren’t alone in sometimes violating federal civil rights laws. Unions can be guilty of that, too.

Teamsters Local Union No. 455, which has locations in Denver and Fort Morgan, Colo., has agreed to pay $153,000 to resolve discrimination complaints investigated by the Denver Field Office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Sept. 14.

The EEOC’s investigation found reasonable cause to believe that Local 455 denied its members, who worked at the Cargill Meat Solutions plant in Fort Morgan, fair union representation for failing to advocate for them, and subjecting them to retaliation and a hostile work environment because of their race, national origin and Muslim religion, all in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Local 455 disputed the findings. The parties then agreed to engage in the conciliation process and have reached a resolution.

The conciliation includes monetary relief for the aggrieved individuals, and Local 455 also agreed to mandatory Title VII, grievance filing and handling training for the Fort Morgan business agent, assistant business agents and stewards. Additionally, Local 455 will post details about the EEOC’s findings that explain employee rights under Title VII to be free from discrimination based on the race, national origin, and retaliation, and will make all pertinent records available to the EEOC for inspection during the three-year agreement.

“In its capacity as a bargaining representative for its members, labor unions have an obligation to represent their members regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability,” said Elizabeth Cadle, district director for the Phoenix District. “We thank Local 455 and the charging parties for working with the EEOC to reach this positive conciliation on these important issues.”

Power Failure: Utility Liable for Harassment, Retaliation Involving Woman, EEOC Alleges

This temporary worker who allegedly suffered sexual harassment and retaliation from her assigned company has an ally in the Equal Employment  Opportunity Commission.

Charleston,  W.V.-based Appalachian Power Company, an electric utility company, violated  federal law when it subjected a contract administrative assistant to sexual  harassment and then fired her for complaining about it, the EEOC charged in a lawsuit it announced on August 27.

According to the suit, the  contract administrative assistant began working in Appalachian Power Company’s  accounting department at its Clinch River facility in November 2016. Not long  after she started, her supervisor subjected her to repeated sexual harassment,  such as making unwelcome comments about her body, expressing his physical  attraction to her, telling her that he loved her and that he wanted to leave  his wife for her, and scrutinizing her interactions with co-workers. The  administrative assistant told him she was not interested in a relationship,  but the supervisor continued to harass her, once telling her, “You can get me  in a lot of trouble, but I know you would not do that because I’ll pull rank  and terminate you.” Because the employee objected to his unwelcome harassment,  the supervisor abruptly discharged her, the EEOC says.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the  Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits harassment based on sex. Title VII  also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who oppose sexual  harassment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Appalachian Power Company, Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-00035) in  U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Abingdon Division,  after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its  conciliation process.

“No worker, whether a  permanent or temporary employee, should be forced to endure egregious sexual  harassment in order to make a living, or suffer retaliation for opposing the  harassment,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.

EEOC Philadelphia District Director Jamie R.  Williamson added, “The EEOC stands ready to protect the rights of employees to  refuse unwelcome sexual advances. Employers should take action to root out  sexual harassment, not punish workers who complain about it.”

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

EEOC Recovers $65K For Harassed Worker

Justice was done for this temporary worker who was allegedly the target of harassment and retaliation.

Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA, Inc., which operates a roasting facility in Suffolk, Va., has agreed to pay $65,000 and provide other relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced August 20. The EEOC had charged that Massimo Zanetti discriminated against a temporary worker when it subjected her to a sexually hostile work environment and then fired her for opposing the abuse.

According to the EEOC’s suit, LaToya Young was a temporary worker supplied by a third-party staffing agency to work at the Suffolk facility. The EEOC alleged that around February 2015, a male co-worker began harassing Young. The alleged harassment included requests for sex and sexual favors, as well as other crude sexual comments and gestures. Young reported the sexual harassment on at least three occasions, but the harassment continued. After Young’s third report to her supervisor, her assignment at Massimo Zanetti was terminated due to her complaints.

Such alleged conduct violates the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division (EEOC v. Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:17-cv-499) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to providing monetary relief to Young, Massimo Zanetti entered into a two-year consent decree requiring the company to conduct annual training for its Suffolk employees, supervisors, and managers on the requirements of Title VII and its prohibition against sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace. Massimo Zanetti must also post an employee notice in the Suffolk facility and provide periodic reports to the EEOC.

“Employers must take appropriate action to stop harassment of all employees, including temporary workers,” said Kara G. Haden, acting regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District. “We hope that this case sends a clear message that the EEOC will hold accountable employers who fail to protect all employees from workplace harassment.”

EEOC: Retaliation Cost Lab Employee Promotion

It’s civil rights law 101 that it’s illegal to deny an employee a job opportunity because he or she has complained about employment discrimination.

Maybe this employer missed class that day.

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (“Fermilab”) violated civil rights law by failing to promote a female engineer in retaliation for her complaint of sex-based discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed August 13. Fermilab is a particle physics and accelerator laboratory in Batavia, Ill., that employs over 1,750 people.

The EEOC’s pre-suit administrative investigation revealed that only months after a female engineer filed a sex-based discrimination grievance at work, she was denied a promotion for an engineering management position despite being the most qualified candidate.

“Federal employment discrimination laws depend on the willingness of employees to challenge discrimination without fear or punishment,” said Julianne Bowman, the EEOC’s district director in Chicago.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits unlawful employment practices, including retaliation against an employee for making a sex discrimination complaint. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case, EEOC v. Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Civil Action No. 18-cv-5486, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and was assigned to U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman.

“Fermilab violated the law when it failed to promote such a highly-qualified female employee because she exercised her rights under Title VII,” said Gregory Gochanour, EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago. “The EEOC is committed to enforcing the law to ensure that people are free to raise complaints about discrimination.”

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.

$20K Payment Settles EEOC Retaliation Charge

Employers can’t require their employees to waive their legal rights in order to receive a promotion.

That point is driven home in this settlement of a retaliation charge.

Southeast Food Services, a large franchisee formerly operating over 30 restaurants as Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers, will pay $20,000 to settle a retaliation charge filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Aug. 10.

A former employee filed a charge with the EEOC’s Nashville office alleging Southeast Food Services (Southeast Food) required employees to sign a general release to receive a promotion. A provision in the release prohibited employees from exercising their right to file discrimination complaints. The EEOC’s investigation found that Southeast retaliated against the former employee by rescinding a promotion offer after the employee selected for promotion refused to sign the general release. Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Without admitting liability and to avoid the cost of litigation, Southeast Food agreed to enter into a one-year conciliation agreement with the EEOC and the alleged aggrieved party, thereby avoiding litigation. During the EEOC’s investigation, Southeast Food ceased its practice of requiring the general release as a condition of promotion.

“Southeast Food Services has been cooperative in working with the EEOC to resolve this charge without having to resort to litigation,” said Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director for the EEOC’s Memphis District, which includes Nashville in its jurisdiction. “We commend Southeast Food Services’ willingness to reassess and change its promotion process so that employees no longer have to forfeit their civil rights to receive a promotion.”