Posts Tagged ‘retaliation’

Mopping Up: EEOC Settles Title VII Lawsuit Against Goodwill Industries, Affiliate for $850K

This case is an object lesson in not allowing sexual harassment and retaliation to take root in the workplace.

Goodwill Industries of the East Bay Area and its affiliate, Calidad Industries Inc., will pay $850,000 to eight former and current employees to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced yesterday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, six female janitors assigned to work the night shift at the Oakland Federal Building faced routine sexual harassment by their direct supervisor. The claimants included young women with developmental disabilities who were relatively new to the workforce, and were employed by Goodwill/Calidad’s janitorial operations under a federal government contract. The EEOC also charges that two managers were unfairly criticized and disciplined in retaliation for supporting the women’s sexual harassment claims, and one manager was compelled to resign.

“I was only 19 years old when I worked at Calidad — it was my first job, and I enjoyed being able to earn my own money,” said former employee Crystal Edwards. “But after my boss put his arms around me, I did not feel safe at work. My complaints were ignored. I am so glad the EEOC filed this lawsuit to stop the harassment and to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

Former employee Phyllis Sloan said, “I reported the harassment as soon as it started, but nothing changed. So I went to the EEOC, and they were able to help me. I just wanted justice, so that other disabled workers know that they don’t have to put up with harassment from their bosses.”

Former manager Lisa Short added, “Within weeks of my start date, my employees trusted me enough to describe the harassment they faced on the nightshift. I knew my job could be on the line, but I needed to make sure my workers were safe.”

Concerned when higher management failed to take effective action, Short sought help from the Federal Protective Service and ultimately assisted the women in filing discrimination complaints with the EEOC.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from subjecting their employees to sexual harassment and specifically protects employees from retaliation for reporting or otherwise supporting claims of sexual harassment in the workplace. The EEOC filed its lawsuit (EEOC v. Goodwill Industries of the Greater East Bay, Inc. and Calidad Industries, Inc., Civil Action No. 4:16-CV-07093) after an investigation conducted by EEOC investigator Christopher Green and attempting through its conciliation process to reach a settlement out of court.

According to the consent decree signed by Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers, Goodwill/Calidad will pay $850,000 to the claimants. The employers will also revise their EEO policies and complaint and investigation procedures; institute supervisor accountability policies concerning discrimination issues; conduct comprehensive training of their workforce; and hire a consultant to monitor any responses to future complaints. The companies are also required to provide reports to the EEOC regarding adherence to the decree’s terms.

EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney Roberta Steele said, “The EEOC vigorously defends people like Lisa Short, the courageous supervisor who spoke out on behalf of her employees, as well as the individuals who are harassed. Whether you are a target or a bystander, if you see harassment in the workplace, please take action now and call on the EEOC as a resource to end workplace abuse. And if you’re an employer, know that EEOC offers technical assistance programs to prevent and remedy harassment.”

EEOC San Francisco District Director William R. Tamayo added, “The #MeToo movement illustrates that sexual harassment impacts people across industries, from white collar to blue collar work, across class, race, age, gender and abilities. In this case, there were many factors that contributed to the vulnerability of these janitors – all were African-American, many were young females new to the workplace, with disabilities, working the isolated night shift. Employers must take proactive measures to stop predators who would abuse their power over vulnerable workers.”

Protecting vulnerable workers from harassment, disparate pay, and other discriminatory policies is one of the priorities identified in EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP). The EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace provides practical resources for employers who want to address workplace harassment.

According to its website, Calidad Industries is a subsidiary of Goodwill Industries of the Greater East Bay and provides vocational training and employment to those with significant disabilities.


Big Payout in Harassment, Retaliation Settlement For EEOC Against Las Vegas Printing Company

You know the expression, What Happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Fortunately, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission got wind of what this female production manager allegedly endured. And got quite a handsome settlement for her.

Candid Litho Printing, LTD, doing business as Candid Worldwide, a printing and graphic arts company with facilities in Las Vegas and Long Island City, N.Y., will pay $242,799 and provide other relief to settle a sex discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the EEOC, the agency announced Thursday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Candid Litho’s general manager subjected a female production manager to regular and continuous discrimination and sexual harassment. The EEOC further charged that when the company fired the production manager after she complained about the discrimination and harassment, it also fired her son and fiancé without justification.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in September 2017 (EEOC v. Candid Litho Printing, LTD, dba Candid Worldwide, fka Blue Ocean Worldwide, Case No. 2:17-cv-02119-MMD-CWH) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the monetary relief, Candid Litho entered into a three-year consent decree whereby the company agreed to retain a consultant to review and revise company policies to ensure they prohibit sex discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation, and contain a process for prompt handling of discrimination complaints. Candid Litho will also train its employees on the company’s policies and equal employment rights and responsibilities under Title VII, with an emphasis in sex discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation. Candid Litho further agreed to report sex discrimination complaints and provide reports on hiring and terminations.

“As the #MeToo movement has demonstrated, female employees continue to face sex discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, which includes Nevada in its jurisdiction. “It is not enough for employers to have anti-discrimination policies and engage in regular training. Employers must also realize the importance of holding decision makers accountable for following through on their policies by acting promptly when harassment allegations arise.”

Fla. Trust Co. Out $180K to Harassment Victim

This employer may have to rebuild trust with a female executive who endured a hostile work environment. The alleged misconduct did hit this trust company in its wallet.

Coral Gables Trust Company (CGTC), a South Florida-based privately held trust company that provides wealth investment management and trust services throughout Florida, will pay $180,000 and provide significant equitable relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Wednesday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a female executive assistant and marketing officer was subjected to a hostile work environment based on her gender and then retaliated against after she complained. The hostile work environment included verbal and physical harassment based on her sex at CGTC’s Coral Gables office and at various locations throughout South Florida that the executive assistant visited on business trips.

Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit against CGTC in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division (Case No. 1:18cv21148-JAL/JJO) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through EEOC’s conciliation process.

The EEOC and CGTC reached an agreement to resolve the suit through a consent decree that requires the company paying $180,000 to the discrimination victim and providing her with a positive job reference. In addition, the decree requires that CGTC retain an independent equal employment opportunity consultant to investigate all complaints of sex-based harassment, discrimination or retaliation. The company must also distribute a revised policy against sex discrimination; post a notice informing employees about the suit; provide anti-discrimination training to all managers and employees; and provide individual training to the company’s chief wealth advisor. Further, CGTC agreed to designate two board members to receive future complaints of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation.

“The EEOC has long recognized the role that power imbalances in the workplace, such as those between managers and their direct subordinates, can play a role in permitting and perpetuating sexual harassment,” said Michael Farrell, district director for the EEOC’s Miami District Office. “Sexual harassment is plainly illegal under federal law, and the EEOC will continue to combat it.”

EEOC Miami District Office Regional Attorney Robert E. Weisberg added, “The EEOC will not only keep enforcing federal anti-harassment laws, it will also continue to encourage employers to implement and maintain robust training in order to prevent harassment from occurring in the first place.”

The EEOC’s Miami District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and conducting agency litigation in Florida, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Growers Settle EEOC Suit Over Mistreatment of Latina Tractor Driver at Washington St. Orchard

Maybe sexual harassment can’t be pulled out root and branch in every orchard where it occurs, but at least at this orchard in Washington State, the situation got better for the lone female tractor driver.

The largest grower of organic tree fruit in the United States, Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers and its wholly owned subsidiary Stemilt Ag Services, will pay $95,000 to a Latina tractor driver and implement preventative measures to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Heidi Corona, the only female tractor driver at Stemilt’s Wenatchee orchard, faced sexual harassment by her direct supervisor on her second day at a new location. He drove her to a remote area and made sexually explicit comments, propositioned her for sex, and attempted to kiss her. Trapped in a moving vehicle at an unfamiliar and remote location with no cell service, Corona asked him to stop and stated that she was only there to work. When she reported the harassment to upper management, Corona was given a choice of continuing to work under that supervisor or transferring to a warehouse for a lower-paying job sorting fruit. To avoid further contact with the supervisor, Corona took the sorter position.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which requires employers to prevent and remedy sexual harassment and prohibits them from retaliating against an employee who reports harassment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Stemilt Growers, LLC and Stemilt AG Services, LLC, 2:17-cv-00210-TOR) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington after an investigation led by the EEOC’s Seattle Field office and after attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the agency’s conciliation process.

Under the consent decree, Stemilt will pay Corona $95,000 and will provide an anti-discrimination policy and annual training to all management and staff. The company also agreed to institute complaint-handling procedures and to hold management and supervisors accountable for how they respond to these matters. In addition, Stemilt will post a notice on the case, and report annually to the EEOC for a three-year period.

“I hope that as a result of this settlement, Stemilt will listen to a woman who reports harassment and will give her support and not punishment,” Corona said. “My message for other women workers is, ‘Don’t be afraid to use your voice, don’t stay silent.’ There are people at Northwest Justice Project and the EEOC who will help you find justice. The truth will come to light.”

Nancy Sienko, director of the EEOC’s Seattle Field Office, said, “Sexual harassment dominates the national conversation. Now more than ever, employers must show leadership, demonstrate accountability to all employees, and foster civil workplaces where everyone is shown respect.”

Carmen Flores, EEOC senior trial attorney, noted, “Ms. Corona just wanted to drive her tractor, a rare position for a woman to hold in that industry. Instead, she was forced to give up a job she loved and take a pay cut to avoid harassment, an all-too-familiar pattern for workers across industries as seen from #MeToo accounts. We hope this settlement sends a clear message that EEOC can be a key resource in the fight to end workplace sexual harassment.”

Wenatchee-based Stemilt Growers LLC and its wholly owned subsidiary Stemilt Ag Services LLC operate and manage over 150 acres of orchards in Eastern Washington.

EEOC Hits School District Over Retaliation

Employers can’t exact retribution on employees who file employment discrimination claims. That truism may have eluded this Michigan school system.

The Waterford Public School System, a school district located in Waterford, Mich., violated federal law when it failed to recall a tenured teacher back to work in retaliation for his having filed a charge alleging age discrimination, the EEOC charged in a lawsuit it filed Thursday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a former history and social studies teacher was subjected to a layoff. Because the teacher believed he was laid off because of his age, he filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC. Since then, the school district has recalled other teachers to work full time and hired a full-time social studies teacher, but has not recalled this teacher to his former position.

Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). After attempting to reach a pre-litigation resolution through its conciliation process, the EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District Court of Michigan (EEOC v. Waterford Public School System, Case No. 2:18-cv-11015). The agency seeks to recover monetary compensation for the employee and an injunction prohibiting the school district from engaging in retaliation in the future.

“Employees who oppose discriminatory practices have the right to do so without incurring harm to their careers and their livelihood,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Kenneth Bird.

The EEOC’s Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and parts of Ohio.

Wastewater Company 0ut $150K in Settlement of “Textbook” Case of Mishandled Harassment

Here’s how not to handle a case of harassment on the job.

Aqua Resources Inc., a Delaware-based water and wastewater service company, will pay $150,000 and provide significant equitable relief to settle a federal racial harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Feb. 1.

The EEOC said that a white superintendent and white foremen at Aqua Resources’ Bear, Del., facility repeatedly made derogatory and offensive comments to and about an African-American foreman and black employees, including calling them racial epithets such as “n—-r,” “monkey,” and “boy.”

The African-American foreman complained to company management officials about the racially hostile work environment. Aqua Resources not only failed to stop the harassment, it instead promoted one of the harassers and even assigned him to supervise the African-American foreman, according to the suit. The company fired the black foreman in retaliation for complaining about the racially hostile work environment, the EEOC charged.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to harass employees on the basis of race or to retaliate against employees who complain about discrimination. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Aqua Resources, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:17-cv-04346) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $150,000 in monetary relief to the African-American foreman and class members, the two-year consent decree resolving the suit enjoins Aqua Resources from engaging in discrimination based on race or unlawful retaliation in the future. The company will provide training on federal anti-discrimination laws, including preventing harassment. Aqua Resources will implement and disseminate to all employees a revised anti-harassment policy, and will also post a notice regarding the settlement. The company will also provide the black foreman with a neutral reference letter.

“This is almost a textbook case on how not to handle a harassment complaint,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Office Director Jamie R. Williamson. “Employers must take prompt action to stop harassment — not reward a wrongdoer by promoting him and punish the victim by firing him.”

$90K Payment Closes EEOC Suit Alleging Employer Fired Harassment Complainer

The MeTooMovement takes aim not only at sexual harassment against women but also at the payback that often ensues when a woman complains about harassment. Such retaliation is illegal under federal civil rights law.

Plastipak Packaging, Inc. will pay $90,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to resolve a federal retaliatory discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced Jan. 29.

The EEOC charged that Plastipak fired a female employee, who had been placed by a temporary agency, because she complained that one of its employees had sexually harassed her. Rather than investigating her complaint, the EEOC said, Plastipak terminated her assignment.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation against individuals who complain about discrimination or harassment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Plastipak Packaging Inc., Civil Action No. 1:16-cv-03278) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $90,000 in monetary relief to the retaliation victim, the three-year consent decree resolving the suit enjoins Plastipak from engaging in retaliation at its Havre de Grace, Md., facility in the future. Plastipak will implement a detailed policy prohibiting sexual harassment and retaliation. Plastipak will train all managers, supervisors and employees on preventing sexual harassment and retaliation. The training will also emphasize mutual respect in the workplace and train employees to respond appropriately when they are bystanders to unacceptable behavior. The consent decree requires Plastipak to report to the EEOC on how it handles any internal complaints of unlawful sexual harassment or retaliation and to post a notice regarding the settlement.

“All employees, including temporary workers, have the right to earn a living without being subjected to sexual advances and to exercise their right to oppose unlawful harassment without being fired,” said EEOC Philadelphia Director Jamie R. Williamson.

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, “We are pleased that Plastipak worked with us to reach an amicable settlement. This settlement, including the comprehensive injunctive provisions, policy changes and training requirements, should create a more respectful workplace and ensure that all employees are protected from unlawful harassment or retaliation.”

The EEOC’s Baltimore Field Office is one of four offices in the agency’s 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.