Posts Tagged ‘settlement of EEOC lawsuit’

N.M. Dealership Settles 3-Pronged EEOC Suit

To hear the federal government tell it, a car dealership in New Mexico was rife with animus based on its worker’s race, national origin and religion.

Now the dealership has agreed to clean up its act in settlement of a lawsuit.

Reliable Inc., doing business as Reliable Nissan, along with other entities involved in operating the Albuquerque car dealership, has agreed to settle charges of discrimination based on race, national origin, and religion, along with retaliation, that were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced last Wednesday.

The agreement follows conciliation between the EEOC and Reliable Nissan over claims that two Reliable Nissan Managers repeatedly used the “N-word” during a sales meeting, and referred to African, African-American, Native American, Muslim and Hispanic employees in a derogatory manner. Employees alleged that managers made offensive jokes about Muslim and Native American employees’ religious practices and traditions, and used racial epithets like “n—-r,” “drunken Indians,” “red.” and “redskins.” Racially offensive pictures targeted against minority employees were also posted in the workplace.

The EEOC investigated the charges and found that the racial slurs and innuendos created a hostile work environment for minority employees, and that Reliable Nissan failed to take prompt and remedial action to stop the harassment. The EEOC’s investigation further revealed that employees who complained were retaliated against.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits an employer from discriminating against employees because of their race, national origin or religion. Title VII also protects employees who complain about discrimination from retaliation.

As part of the conciliation agreement, Reliable Nissan agreed to pay a total of $205,000 to three emp­loyees who filed discrimination charges with the EEOC and 11 other minority employees who were subjected to the hostile work environment. The company also agreed to provide annual training for two years for its emp­loyees, including managers and human resources employees. Additionally, Reliable Nissan agreed to re­view its policies and procedures to ensure that employees have a mechanism for reporting discrimination and to make certain that each complaint will be appropriately investigated.

“It is important for all employees to feel safe and free to come forward with reports of harassment,” said EEOC Albuquerque Area Director Derick Newton. “As soon as an employer becomes aware of any kind of harassment because of race, national origin, or religion, the employer must act promptly and appropriately.”

EEOC Phoenix Office District Director Elizabeth Cadle added, “It is illegal for employees to be subjected to such degrading comments and innuendos based on their race, national origin and religion. The EEOC will continue to hold employers accountable for such offensive and discriminatory conduct.”

Advertisements

Transgenders Beneficiary of EEOC Settlement of Title VII Lawsuit Against Finance Loan Company

Count another victory for transgender employees in the battle against employment discrimination.

First Tower Loan, LLC, a financial loan company based in Flowood, Miss., agreed to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and implement gender identity protections, the EEOC announced October 6.

In September 2015, the EEOC intervened in a suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana filed by Tristan Broussard, a former employee of First Tower Loan (Broussard v. First Tower Loan, LLC, Case No. 2:15-cv-01161). The EEOC’s suit charged that First Tower Loan violated federal law by firing Broussard because he is transgender and did not conform to the company’s gender-based expectations. However, the EEOC’s suit was stayed pending an arbitration between Broussard, as a private plaintiff, and First Tower Loan. After an arbitration hearing, Broussard was awarded $53,000 in damages by the arbitrator, but no injunctive relief was awarded.

The 18-month consent decree resolving the EEOC’s suit strengthens the company’s discrimin­ation policy by prohibiting and preventing discrimination or harassment against an employee because the employee is transgender, or because the employee does not conform to the company’s sex- or gender-based preferences, expectations, or stereotypes. The agreement also prohibits the company from engaging in any employment practice which discriminates based on gender identity, transgender status, or sex stereotyping. First Tower Loan further agreed to provide training to its managers and employees explaining the prohibition against discrimination based on gender non-conformity under Title VII, and to provide its management with guidance on handling such complaints.

“We are pleased that First Tower Loan agreed to resolve this case by entering into this consent decree,” said Supervisory Trial Attorney Eduardo Juarez of the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office. “This agreement will help protect other employees from discrimination based on gender identity, transgender status, or sex stereotyping.”

[Not] Skirting the Law: $22K Payment Closes EEOC Suit Against Bake Shop Over Dress Code

A Michigan cafe and bake shop could have saved itself some grief and legal costs had it granted a female employee’s request that she be allowed to wear a skirt to work.

A Michigan-based franchisee of Tim Hortons Cafe and Bake Shop will pay $22,500 to settle a religious accommodation lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency announced yesterday.

The EEOC’s lawsuit charged that Sleneem Enterprises, LLC violated federal law by firing Amanda Corley after she requested a religious accommodation. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, in 2015, Corley was hired by Sleneem to work at the Tim Hortons cafe in Romulus, Mich. On Nov. 16 of that year, Corley requested that she be permitted to wear a skirt instead of pants, in accordance with her Pentecostal Apostolic religious beliefs. Corley attempted to present a letter from her pastor, explaining her need to wear a skirt. Rather than allow Corley to wear a skirt, Sleneem fired her, the EEOC said.

See my write up of the lawsuit here.

Such alleged conduct violates Tile VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their religious beliefs. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Sleneem Enterprises, LLC, dba Tim Hortons Cafe and Bake Shop, No. 2:17-cv-12337) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The consent decree settling the suit, in addition to providing for the award of monetary relief to Corley, prohibits any similar discrimination in the future and requires Sleneem to train its shift supervisors and managers on all forms of discrimination prohibited by Title VII, including the obligation to provide reasonable religious accommodations.

“Under federal law, an employer has an obligation to fairly balance an employee’s right to practice religion with operating its business,” said Miles Uhlar, trial attorney for EEOC’s Detroit Field Office. “When this obligation is not met, the EEOC will step in and protect workers.”

Harassment Settlement Costs Employer $125K

Subjecting employees who are in a protected class to a hostile work environment comes at a cost.

A Hugo, Minn., construction company will pay $125,000 to settle a racial harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal announced on Sept. 7. The EEOC’s lawsuit charged that JL Schwieters Construction, Inc. violated federal law when it subjected two black employees to a hostile work environment, including physical threats, based on their race.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Willie Staple and Dion Pye worked for JL Schwieters Construction, Inc. from September 2012 to December 2013 as carpenters. Staple and Pye were both subjected to racial harassment during their employment by a white supervisor, which included racially derogatory comments including calling them “n—-r.” The supervisor also made a noose out of electrical wire and threatened to hang Staple and Pye, the EEOC charged.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from discrimination and harassment based on race. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. JL Schwieters Construction, Inc.; Civil Action No. 16-cv-03823 WMW/FLN) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright signed the Order entering the Consent Decree on September 6, 2017. The decree provides $125,000 in monetary relief to Staple and Pye. It also requires Schwieters to revise its policies in its employee handbook to outline a complaint procedure for complaining of racial harassment. The decree also requires the company to train its management personnel on Title VII including its prohibitions against race discrimination and racial harassment.

Further, the decree requires Schwieters to train its non-management employees on their rights under Title VII, including their right to file discrimination charges with the EEOC. Finally, the company must report complaints of race discrimination and racial harassment to the EEOC during the decree’s two-year term.

“Employees have a right to work in an environment free of racial harassment, particularly the kind of severe and outrageous abuse the EEOC uncovered in its investigation of this case,” said Julianne Bowman, district director of the EEOC’s Chicago District.

Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District, said, “Nooses and threats are absolutely unacceptable in 21st-century America. When such terrible treatment is meted out to workers simply because of their race, the EEOC will fulfill its mandate and take action to stop it.”

Employer Accused of Misusing Medical Info in Hiring Process Agrees to Settle ADA Lawsuit

“Handle information on employees’ medical conditions with care.”

Those words should be etched on the walls of every HR department in the company. Otherwise, you’re apt to be slapped with an Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit, forcing you either to litigate your violation of the law or settle for a hefty sum.

Chemtrusion, Inc., a Houston-based manufacturing services company, will pay $145,000 and provide other significant relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency announced on July 21.

The EEOC filed suit against Chemtrusion in October 2016, claiming that since 2012, the company refused to hire or provide reasonable accommodations to a class of job applicants at the company’s Jeffersonville, Ind., facility because of medical information it obtained during pre-employ­ment medical examinations. The company failed to conduct any individual­ized assessment of whether they could perform essential job functions, the EEOC charged.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, New Albany Division (EEOC v. Chemtrusion, Inc., Case No. 4:16-cv-00180) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The EEOC and Chemtrusion voluntarily negotiated the terms of the consent decree settling the suit, without any admission of wrongdoing or liability by Chemtrusion.

In addition to monetary relief, the decree requires that Chemtrusion: (1) instruct its hiring personnel and medical providers not to conduct medical inquiries until after a condit­ional offer is made; (2) conduct individualized analysis before withdrawing job offers; (3) train its hiring personnel on what the ADA requires with respect to medical examinations and hiring; (4) submit deci­sions to rescind job offers to legal counsel for review; and (5) track rescinded offers. The EEOC will monitor compli­ance with the two-year decree.

“All the corrective measures required by the consent decree will ensure that Chemtrusion will comply with federal disability discrimination law in filling vacancies in the future,” said Kenneth L. Bird, regional attorney for EEOC’s Indianapolis District. “It will also provide a strong reminder to other employers that applicants are entitled to an individualized assessment of whether they can do a job, with or without reasonable accommodation, before a company may rescind a job offer after a medical examination.”

Eliminating barriers to recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against people with disabilities or racial, ethnic, and religious groups, older workers, and women, is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

Health Center That Ordered Male Technician’s Firing Settles Title VII Lawsuit Filed by EEOC

The other legal shoe has dropped in a gender discrimination lawsuit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed on behalf of a man who was fired from his job as an ultrasound because of his gender.

The EEOC announced settlement on Thursday of this lawsuit against Nevada Health Centers, which agreed to pay $35,000 to close the litigation.

According to the EEOC’s suit, from 2010 to 2013, Nevada Health Centers and Ultracare Las Vegas had a service contract whereby the placement agency Ultracare provided Nevada Health with ultra­sound technicians. In November 2012, Ultracare hired David Matlock as an ultrasound technician and placed him at Nevada Health. Within weeks of his placement, Nevada Health asked Ultracare to remove Mr. Matlock solely because of his gender. Ultracare complied with Nevada Health’s request and terminated Matlock’s employment at Nevada Health in the first week of January 2013.

The EEOC filed suit in June 2016, charging that Nevada Health and Ultracare terminated David Matlock because of his gender in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 [EEOC v. Nevada Health Centers, Inc, Ultracare Las Vegas, Case No. 2:16-cv-01495-JAD-PAL]. Ultracare entered into a settlement agreement with the EEOC for $15,000, which was approved by the Court on March 20. The court approved the consent decree as to the remaining defendant, Nevada Health Centers, on July 6.

In addition to monetary relief, Nevada Health will implement injunctive relief focused on ensuring equal employment opportunities for its employees, regardless of gender. The company agreed to review and revise its anti-discrimination policy to ensure it prohibits discrimination and contains a process for prompt handling of discrimination complaints. Nevada Health also agreed train its manage­ment on the importance of non-discrimination in the recruitment and hiring of its employees, and further agreed to report any gender discrimination complaints and provide reports on its recruitment and hiring practices. The EEOC will monitor compliance with the two-and-a-half-year decree.

“Outdated stereotypes in the health care industry cannot be used to categorically exclude emp­loyees from certain jobs based on gender,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which includes Las Vegas in its jurisdiction.

Christine Park-Gonzalez, acting local director of the EEOC’s Las Vegas Local Office, added, “Employers have an obligation to comply with the prohibition on sex discrimination in federal law and should examine their practices to ensure that gender bias is not impacting employment decisions.”

According to its website, www.nevadahealthcenters.org, Nevada Health Centers is a non-profit organization that provides 15 health center locations and mobile service providers throughout Nevada.

Good Dough: $50K Settlement Closes EEOC National Origin Lawsuit Against NY Pizzerias

It’s a safe bet that conditions will improve for Hispanic employees at two mid-state pizzerias in New York.

A small group of pizzeria restaurants based in Wappinger Falls and Fishkill in Dutchess County, N.Y., will pay $50,000 and provide other relief to settle a national origin discrimination lawsuit, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced on Thursday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Antonella’s Restaurant & Pizzeria, Inc., JTA, Inc., and Dellicap, LLC, doing business as Grand Centro Grill (collectively Antonella’s) discriminated against Hispanic employees by subjecting them to name calling, slurs, and creating and maintaining a hostile work environment because of their national origin. Antonella’s also unlawfully demanded that the workers speak only English in the workplace without a business reason for this requirement, the EEOC said.

The consent decree settling the suit, entered by U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas on June 22, 2017, provides that Antonella’s will pay $50,000 for the discrimination victims. Also, the decree provides for extensive safeguards to prevent future discrimination by implementing anti-discrimination policies, training and problem-solving procedures.

“We are pleased that because of this settlement, Antonella’s will institute policies that were previously missing and may assist in preventing future discrimination,” EEOC Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein said.

EEOC New York District Director Kevin Berry added, “This case exemplifies the EEOC’s commit­ment to enforcing our laws when employers discriminate against any employees, including especially vulnerable, low-wage workers in a restaurant kitchen.”

Eliminating discriminatory policies affecting vulnerable workers who may be unaware of their rights under equal employment laws or reluctant or unable to exercise them is one of six national priorities identified by the agency’s Strategic Enforcement Plan. These policies can include disparate pay, job segregation, harassment and trafficking.