Posts Tagged ‘settlement of EEOC lawsuit’

$30K Settlement Closes EEOC’s Religious Bias Suit for Rastafarian Employee at Orlando Resort

Grooming standards sometimes have to give weigh to religious accommodation in order to avoid violating Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Latest case in point: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced yesterday that an Orlando staffing company dedicated to Central Florida’s massive hospitality industry will pay $30,000 and implement a company-wide accommodation policy to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit

The EEOC’s lawsuit filed last July charged that HospitalityStaff violated religious discrimination law by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation to Courtnay B. Joseph, a Rastafarian, when it required him to cut his dreadlocks to comply with its client’s grooming standards in order to keep his position at an Orlando-area hotel. The EEOC said that HospitalityStaff took Joseph off his assignment and never reassigned him.

Rastafarians wear dreadlocks as part of their sincerely held religious belief, and making an employment decision because of such a religious practice violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Under the decree, which was agreed to soon after EEOC filed its lawsuit, HospitalityStaff agreed to pay Joseph $30,000 in damages. The company will also amend its employee handbook and policy manual to include a clear policy providing for reasonable accommodations covering both disability and religious-based requests. Further, HospitalityStaff agreed to provide training to its managers and human resources personnel, and to voluntarily provide information to EEOC concerning its handling of religious discrimination complaints for three years.

“HospitalityStaff’s decision to provide training and to implement policy changes relating to reasonable accommodations should be commended,” said Kimberly A. Cruz, supervisory trial attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District Office. “These policy changes demonstrate the company’s commitment to providing reasonable accommodations to its employees with sincerely held religious beliefs.”

“The Supreme Court’s opinion in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch reminds us that we must be vigilant in protecting sincere religious expression in the workplace,” said Robert Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District Office. This is particularly important where the Commission has recognized ‘the increasing complexity of employment relationships and structures, including temporary workers, staffing agencies, and independent contractor relationships’ in an ever more on-demand economy.”

$106K Settlement Concludes ADA Suit Alleging Medical Exam Cost Applicant Permanent Job

It took more than a year to wrap up, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission this week obtained recompense for a job applicant who was denied a permanent job with an Oklahoma company allegedly on the basis of a questionable use of information obtained during preemployment medical exam.

The EEOC filed this Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit in February 2016 against UPCO Claremore, an Okla.-based manufacturer of sucker rods and accessories for the oil and gas industry,

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Lydia Summers began working as a temporary receptionist and assisting in the accounting department. After five months, UPCO made Summers a conditional offer of full-time, permanent employment, conditioned on Summers passing a pre-employment medical exam conducted by a third-party vendor. Following the exam, the vendor’s physician, who never examined or questioned Summers, refused to approve her for employment with UPCO because of the supposed side effects of her prescription medications. Even after Summers provided UPCO with a letter from her personal physician stating that she was not impaired by her medications, UPCO rescinded its job offer, the EEOC alleged.

The EEOC announced yesterday that UPCO has settled the lawsuit for $106,000.

To learn more about what’s allowed in preemployment examinations under the ADA, click here.

$1.9M Settlement in EEOC Suit Charging Chicago Restaurant With Not Hiring African Americans

“Rosebud” was the last word spoken by the lead character in Citizen Kane, in reference to his beloved sled from his boyhood. But Rosebud means something else for African Americans in and around Chicago, as a business that won’t hire them.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced today that Rosebud Restaurants, Inc. will pay $1.9 million and furnish other relief to settle a class race discrimination lawsuit filed by the commission.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, 13 Italian restaurants operated by Rosebud in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs refused to hire African-Americans because of their race. The EEOC also charged that managers, including Rosebud owner Alex Dana, used racial slurs to refer to blacks.  At the time EEOC began investigating Rosebud’s hiring practices, many of its restaurants had no African-American employees at all.

The EEOC also asserted that Rosebud violated federal regulations by failing to maintain employment applications for one year and by failing to file employer information reports providing employment data by job category, race, ethnicity, and gender.

Race discrimination in hiring violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The EEOC filed suit against Rosebud on Sept. 17, 2013 (case number 13-cv-6656) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its concili­ation process. The suit resulted from a charge of discrimination filed by former EEOC Commissioner Constance Barker.

The consent decree settling the suit, approved by Magistrate Judge Mary Rowland, calls for Rosebud to pay $1.9 million to African-American applicants who were denied jobs.  Additionally, Rosebud has agreed to hiring goals for qualified black applicants, with the aim that 11% of Rosebud’s future workforce be African-American.  In addition, the decree enjoins Rosebud from engaging in race discrimination or retaliation in the future. It also requires Rosebud to recruit African-American applicants, train employees and managers about race discrimination and retaliation, provide periodic reports to EEOC on compliance with the decree’s terms for four years, and post notices informing employees of the decree’s terms.

The restaurants covered by the suit include The Rosebud; Carmine’s; Rosebud on Rush; Rosebud Prime; Mama’s Boy; Rosebud Steakhouse; Rosebud Deerfield; Rosebud in Naperville; and the closed restaurants Rosebud Old World Italian; Rosebud Theatre District; Rosebud of Highland Park; Rosebud Burger & Comfort Foods; Rosebud Trattoria; Joe Fish; EATT; Bar Umbriago; and Centro.

EEOC Chicago District Director Julie Bowman said that she was pleased with the cooperation between EEOC and Rosebud in resolving the suit.

“Although it has been several years since the EEOC filed suit, the case was resolved after a lengthy negotiation process that occurred before any depositions were taken in the case and without significant pre-trial motions, sparing both sides from incurring substantial litigation expenses,” said Bowman.

EEOC Chicago Regional Attorney Gregory Gochanour noted, “African-Americans have faced and still face barriers in being hired at upscale restaurants, especially in visible, and often well-paid, positions such  as server. That is why the recruiting and hiring relief in this decree is so important. It will lead directly to qualified blacks being hired for front- and back-of-the-house positions, helping to remedy past discrimination by Rosebud and ensuring equal employment opportunities for future African-American applicants.”

$20,000 Settlement Closes Books on EEOC Sexual Harassment Suit Against Tex-Mex Eatery

At the cost of $20,000 a Georgia restaurant can put behind it a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against it by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Last November, the EEOC charged that El Chaparro, Inc., a Tex-Mex restaurant in Covington, Ga., violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act when one of its owners sexually harassed four female servers at its Greensboro, Ga., restaurant location in 2013 and 2014.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, El Chaparro’s general manager and co-owner showed the four servers pictures and videos containing sexual images, talked about the servers’ sex lives, and showed the servers shirtless photos of himself on a regular, sometimes daily, basis. The servers complained about the sexual harassment to the restaurant’s other owner, but the company failed to take any action to stop the harassment, the EEOC said. The Greensboro restaurant location is now closed and the four women no longer work for El Chaparro.

For five years the restaurant will be under the court’s supervision as it implements the terms of the settlement, which include providing annual equal employment opportunity training to its owners, managers and employees. The five-year decree further requires the company to post a notice to its employees about the lawsuit and to provide periodic reporting to EEOC about sexual harassment complaints.

Read more about the settlement announced on May 8 here.

Settlement in EEOC’s ADA Suit Against Hospital Over Nonaccommodation of Disabled Therapist

Another employer has thought better of fighting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in court over its denial of a reasonable accomodation to a disabled employee.

A Maryland hospital has settled for $179,576 an Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit alleging it refused to grant a disabled therapist a reasonable accommodation and then fired him, the EEOC announced on April 27.

According to this lawsuit filed last September by the EEOC, nine years before starting working as a respiratory therapist at MedStar, Jerome Alston received a kidney transplant due to renal failure. As a result, he is required to take medication which compromises his immune system and increases his risk of infection.

Due to his weakened immune system, MedStar gave Alston a “work-around” which excused him from working in negative pressure rooms, which are isolation rooms with a mechanical ventilation system designed to trap infectious airborne materials, the EEOC said.

Pregnant employees were given similar work-arounds. In November 2013, however, when Alston requested such a work-around, MedStar refused and abruptly terminated him because of his disability, EEOC charged.

“Health care providers, like all employers, must be mindful of the obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation that allows an employee with a disability to remain employed,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Office Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. “It’s not only a good employment practice to retain loyal and productive workers; it’s required by federal law.”

I wrote about the lawsuit when it was filed last September.

EEOC Recovers $380K for Regional Manager Fired by Employer Because He Had Cancer

An employer is paying big because it fired a regional manager who had cancer.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced yesterday the settlement of this Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit against IDEX Corporation, a Lake Forest, Ill.-based manufacturer and supplier of fluidics systems with locations nationwide.

The commission filed this suit in 2015, alleging that during the period the regional manager was being treated for cancer of supervisors repeatedly asked the manager invasive questions about his illness and questioned his ability to perform job tasks.

Eventually they fired him because of his disability of cancer, the EEOC charged.

IDEX is paying $380,000 to settle the suit, the commission said.

“The conduct in this case is a shocking reminder of why the Americans With Disabilities Act is such a critical law,” said EEOC Miami District Director Michael Farrell. “Situations like this demonstrate why the EEOC’s law enforcement responsibilities are so important in today’s workplace.”

Restaurant Serves Up $12M in Settlement of Nationwide ADEA Lawsuit Over Hiring Practices

Texas Roadhouse wasn’t going to take its changes with a jury a second time over allegations that it wouldn’t consider applicants over 40 and over for “front of the house” positions such as hostess and server.

The national Kentucky-based restaurant chain just agreed to fork out $12 million to settle an age discrimination in employment act lawsuit.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit against the company in 2011, accuses it of engaging in a nationwide pattern and practice of illegal age discrimination by hiring only younger-looking people in “front of the house” positions like hostess and server.

After a four-week trial earlier this year, the case ended in a hung jury. It was scheduled for retrial on May 15.

The chain apparently didn’t want to risk going to trial again, so it agreed to the hefty settlement.

Under the settlement, affected individuals age 40 and older who applied to Texas Roadhouse for a front-of-the-house position between Jan. 1, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2014, can apply for relief.

“I am pleased to see this matter come to a mutually agreed-upon resolution,” said EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. “As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) this year, it is as important as ever to recognize the very real consequences of age discrimination and the need for job opportunities for older workers.”

Here’s my writeup on the suit from 2011.