Posts Tagged ‘settlement of EEOC lawsuit’

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.

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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.”

[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).