Posts Tagged ‘settlement of EEOC lawsuit’

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.

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EEOC Gets $70K for Male Harassment Victim

While reports of sexual harassment of women by prominent men dominates the news, men sometimes are victims of harassment also.

Rocky Mountain Casing Crews (RMCC), a Wyoming company that formerly did business in the North Dakota oil patch, has agreed to pay $70,000 to settle a sexual harassment and sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2016, the agency announced on Dec. 20.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, RMCC, which formerly maintained a workforce in Williston, N.D., subjected a male employee to harassment because of his sex, male, and his sexual orientation. The agency said that coworkers called the employee by offensive and homophobic slurs, and the office manager made him the target of derogatory sex-based comments, including giving him a Santa cap with a Spanish slang word for “homosexual” on it.

The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Rocky Mountain Casing Crews (RMCC), 1:16-cv-00428-DLH-CSM (D. N.D.), alleging that RMCC had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by this misconduct. The consent decree settling the suit provides that RMCC will pay the discrimination victim $70,000 and adopt and enforce a policy against sexual harassment in the future. RMCC management and employees will undergo training on the prohibitions against harassment in the workplace.

“Sexual harassment is illegal whether it is against women or men,” said Julianne Bowman, the EEOC’s district director in Chicago, who managed the federal agency’s pre-suit administrative investigation. “Employers must respond appropriately when they receive complaints of this kind of abuse.”

Greg Gochanour, the regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District, added, “Employers have to not only be reactive in responding to complaints of harassment, but they must be proactive too. They should make sure that their workplace is inhospitable to acts of harassment, and that their employees know that such misconduct violates federal law and has no place there.”

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

Restaurant Dishes Out $35K in Settlement With EEOC in Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

This restaurant has committed itself to rid pregnancy discrimination from the menu.

Ichiban Japanese Restaurant, LLC, a hibachi-style restaurant doing business as Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse in Jackson, Mich., will pay $35,000 and commit to training its employees to resolve a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Dec. 15.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, an employee who worked at the restaurant as a server and bartender was fired because she was pregnant.

Pregnancy discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District Court of Michigan (EEOC v. Ichiban Japanese Restaurant, LLC, dba Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse, Case No. 2:17-cv-13164) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The three-year consent decree resolving this case requires the company to pay $30,000 to the employee who filed a complaint with the EEOC, and $2,500 each to two other women who the EEOC also determined had been harmed by Ichiban’s personnel practices when they became pregnant while working for the company.

“Employers who fire employees because they are pregnant are violating federal law,” said EEOC Trial Attorney Nedra Campbell. “Ichiban should be commended for agreeing to an early resolution of this case and committing to training its staff on pregnancy discrimination laws.”

The restaurant company has other locations throughout southeastern Michigan.

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

EEOC Wins Equal Pay Suit Against Pizzaria That Paid Men and Women Unequally For Same Work

And while we are on the topic of equal pay for equal work, two high school students have something in common with the female technician in yesterday’s blog about a lawsuit against a San Diego pharmacy.

They were victims of alleged equal pay violations also.

And the EEOC again came to their rescue and won.

A federal district judge in Kansas entered judgment Thursday in favor of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a lawsuit alleging violation of the Equal Pay Act. This federal law prohibits companies from paying women and men unequally and retaliating against those who complain about or support a claim of unequal pay.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. PS Holding LLC, Civil Action No. 2:17-cv-02513 CM-GEB), filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas in September 2017, two high school friends, Jensen Walcott and Jake Reed, applied to work at Pizza Studio as “pizza artists” in 2016. After both were interviewed and offered jobs, Walcott and Reed discussed their starting wages. Upon learning that Reed was offered 25¢ more per hour, Walcott called the restaurant to complain about the unequal pay. When she did so, the company immediately withdrew its offers of employment from both Walcott and Reed.

[Read my prior post on the case here.]

Federal District Judge Carlos Murguia’s order awards both Walcott and Reed back pay for lost wages as well as liquidated, compensatory, and punitive damages. Although PS Holding LLC no longer operates a restaurant in Kansas City, Kan., it still owns and operates other Pizza Studio restaurants nationwide. Therefore, today’s order also requires it to implement significant policy changes, conduct training, collect and analyze pay and other data, and report data and complaints to the EEOC, each in order to prevent future violations of the law.

“As this case against Pizza Studio demonstrates, the EEOC will thoroughly investigate and enforce this critical federal law,” said EEOC St. Louis District Director James R. Neely, Jr. “It is particularly impressive that these younger workers had the courage to stand up and challenge what they saw as illegal treatment.”

Andrea G. Baran, the EEOC’s regional attorney in St. Louis, said, “Although there has been much in the news recently about sexual harassment in the workplace, unlawful sex discrimination takes many forms. Paying women less than men for equal work is not only illegal, it demeans female workers.”

Compensation discrimination is one of six national enforcement priorities highlighted in the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan, accessible at https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/plan/sep-2017.cfm.

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.

Bad Prescription: EPA, Title VII Violations Cost Calif. Pharmacy $60K in Lawsuit Settlement

A California pharmacy allegedly ran roughshod over a female technician, refusing to pay her the same as a male technician and then retaliating against her when she complained.

As a consequence of these alleged violations of federal law, it is now on the hook for damages.

CJMBS Pharmacies, Inc., dba Community Pharmacy, a pharmacy chain in north San Diego County, will pay $60,000 and furnish other relief to settle a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced today.

In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that Community Pharmacy paid a female pharmacy technician upwards of four dollars an hour less than a male pharmacy technician, then fired her two days after complaining of unequal pay.

Such alleged conduct violated the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1963 (Title VII). EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. CJMBS Pharmacies, Inc. dba Community Pharmacy, Case No. 3:16-cv-2410 filed on Sept. 26, 2016) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

As part of the consent decree, and in addition to paying $60,000 to the employee, Community Pharmacy will retain an external equal employment monitor who will assist the company in reviewing and revising its policies and practices to comply with the EPA, including the anti-retaliation provisions of the law. Community Pharmacy will also provide annual EEO training for employees, supervisors, and managers, post an employee notice, and undertake record keeping and reporting to the EEOC. The EEOC will monitor compliance with this agreement.

“Employers should be mindful that it is unlawful to retaliate against employees after they complain of discrimination,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC’s Los Angeles District, whose jurisdiction includes San Diego County. “Retaliation remains a serious problem and it is the most often alleged complaint of discrimination filed with the EEOC.”

Christopher Green, director of EEOC’s San Diego Local Office, said, “The EEOC is committed to enforcing federal laws to ensure women receive equal pay for equal work. It is unfortunate that some employers still do not adhere to this principle of fairness.”

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.”

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.”