Posts Tagged ‘settlement’

Striking Gold: EEOC Hits It Big in Settlement With Alaskan Mining Co. In Sex Discrimination Lawsuit

The EEOC took this Alaska-based mining company to the cleaners, recovering a high six-figure amount to settle allegations that it was unfairly denied a promotion to a female employee.

Alaska-based Northern Star (Pogo) LLC, formerly known as Sumitomo Metal Mining Pogo, LLC, will pay $690,000 and make substantial changes to settle a sex discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Thursday.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Hanna Hurst, one of a few women underground miners to work at Pogo under former Sumitomo Metal Mining Pogo ownership, was denied promotions while male colleagues with less seniority or training were promoted. When Hurst complained of the unfair treatment, Pogo retaliated against her by imposing additional training requirements, while allowing male miners to advance without meeting the same requirements.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits denying promotions based on sex. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska [Case No. 4:18-cv-00034-JWS] after an investigation by EEOC Investigator Bryne Moore and after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.  Hurst was independently represented by the non-profit Equal Rights Advocates.

The three-year consent decree settling the lawsuit provides $690,000 to Hurst in lost wages and compensatory damages. The decree also requires Pogo to hire an independent expert to evaluate, develop and implement policies, procedures, and trainings to ensure equal employment and enhance accountability and oversight of managers, supervisors and trainers. With that outside expert’s help, the mining company will provide anti-discrimination training to all leadership and employees; make available its EEO policy to all employees and applicants; report to the EEOC all complaints of sex or gender discrimination or retaliation it receives from its employees for the next three years; and post a notice for employees about the consent decree and employees’ rights under federal law.

“Speaking out against sex discrimination at work is hard, but I am really glad I did,” said Hurst. “It’s been a long time coming, but I am hopeful this settlement will help to make the mine a fair workplace for everyone and more open to women. I am thankful to the EEOC and my attorneys at Equal Rights Advocates for standing by me and seeing this through.”

EEOC Senior Trial Attorney May Che said, “Hanna Hurst worked hard to prove her abilities in this challenging industry.  She did everything required of her and more.  Yet, she was repeatedly passed over for promotion while she watched her male colleagues with less training and seniority rise through the ranks.”  Che added, “During Hanna’s employment, Pogo had a discretionary promotion policy applied by male supervisors, who repeatedly showed overt hostility and sexist attitudes toward women at the mine, which ensured that no woman made it to the top-level mining positions.”

“Gender bias continues to be a problem in today’s workplace, certainly no less in those industries traditionally dominated by men.” said EEOC Seattle Field Director Nancy Sienko. “We commend Northern Star as the new successor company for demonstrating its commitment to see such discrimination doesn’t continue under its leadership.”

According to its website, https://www.nsrltd.com/our-assets/pogo/, Pogo is an underground gold mine operation in remote Alaska and currently employs over 320 employees.  Pogo is owned and operated by Northern Star (Alaska) LLC following the acquisition of Sumitomo Metal Mining Pogo, LLC on September 28, 2018.

N.M. Jail Agency Pays Big in Age Bias Lawsuit

Settling allegations of age discrimination and retaliation came at a big price for this agency in the Land of Enchantment.

The State of New Mexico, Corrections Department (NMCD), the state agency that operates correctional facilities throughout New Mexico, will pay $700,000 and furnish other relief to settle an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced yesterday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, NMCD discriminated against several employees by denying them promotions and job assignments as well as in other terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of their ages, over 40. The EEOC’s lawsuit further charged that NMCD retaliated against employees because they opposed age discrimination, filed discrimination charges, or participated in investi­gations of discrimination complaints.

Age discrimination against persons who are 40 years old or older violates the Age Discrim­ination in Employment Act (ADEA). Retaliation against individuals because they file internal com­plaints, file EEOC discrimination charges, or participate in EEO investigations or proceedings also violate the ADEA’s provisions that prohibit retaliation.

The EEOC filed suit, EEOC v. State of New Mexico, Department of Corrections, 1:15-CV-00879-KK/LF (D. NM), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its concili­ation process.

The settlement requires NMCD to ensure that workplace policies are in place to prohibit age discrimination and retaliation and to provide training to all its employees about NMCD’s anti-discrim­ination policies. The settlement allows charging parties or aggrieved individuals to request review of hiring authority decisions during the agreement’s two-year term.

The agreement also requires NMCD to conduct periodic internal analyses of selection decisions to determine whether applicants 40 and over are being selected proportionally to their representation in the applicant pool, and to post a notice that advises employees of NMCD’s policies and the ADEA’s prohibitions on age discrimination and retaliation. Finally, the settlement also provides $700,000 in monetary relief to past and current NMCD employees the EEOC has identified as experiencing age discrimination and/or retaliation while working for NMCD.

“Employers who make employment decisions based on stereotypical notions of an older worker’s ability to work risk losing good employees who bring valuable experience and skill to their jobs,” said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office. “The EEOC will vigorously enforce the laws prohibiting age discrimination and retaliation against workers who have the courage to complain about it.”

EEOC’s Phoenix District Director Elizabeth Cadle added, “We are pleased that this lawsuit was resolved with significant monetary relief for older workers in New Mexico.”

Furniture Co. Forks Over $425K in Settlement of Racial Harassment Lawsuit Filed by the EEOC

Beware of what goes on at your warehouses.

Aaron’s, Inc., a nationwide chain of rent-to-own furniture stores, will pay $425,000 and furnish other relief to settle a lawsuit for racial harassment filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced June 4.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Aaron’s subjected black employees to a race-based hostile work environment at its Jamaica warehouse.  The mistreatment included the regular and open use of derogatory slurs including the “n-word” by managers at the warehouse, who also directed other vulgar language toward black employees, including referring to them as “monkeys.”  Black workers were also assigned more difficult tasks and longer delivery routes than others at the warehouse.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination based on race, which includes subjecting employees to a racially hostile work environment. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (EEOC v. Aaron’s, Inc., Civil Action No. 17-cv-07273), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

“No one should have to put up with racial harassment at work to earn a living,” said EEOC New York Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein. “It does not matter whether the workplace is a warehouse or an office. Employers have an obligation to stop unlawful harassment.”

Under the consent decree, Aaron’s will pay $425,000 to victims of the harassment.  It also requires Aaron’s to maintain an antidiscrimination policy, provide EEO training to all its employees in the New York City area, and report future complaints of race discrimination by Aaron’s employees to the EEOC.

“Racist behavior and the use of racial slurs by supervisors profoundly alter the work environment for employees.  Employers should know if this illegal conduct is tolerated or left unaddressed, the EEOC will hold employers accountable,” said EEOC New York District Director Kevin Berry.

The New York District Office of the EEOC is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in New York, northern New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

EEOC Recovers $99K Under ADA for Time Warner Employee Fired During Cancer Recovery

Firing an employee following cancer surgery not only lacks a certain humanity; it also is potentially illegal.

Time Warner Cable, Inc. and Charter Communications, Inc. agreed to pay $99,500 and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced May 31.  The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California has approved the consent decree filed by the EEOC.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, an employee requiring a leave of absence for surgery to remove a cancerous nodule from her thyroid was fired while she was recovering from surgery, 10 days after the surgery and three weeks before she was set to return to work. The EEOC charged that Time Warner failed to provide the employee a reasonable accommodation of leave for her disability and instead unlawfully terminated her despite knowing she had undergone potentially life-saving surgery to remove the cancerous nodule and was recovering.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended, which makes it unlawful for an employer to fire or otherwise discriminate against an employee due to a disability.

The EEOC filed suit at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (EEOC v. Time Warner Cable, Inc., et al., Case No.: 5:17-cv-01355-JGB-KK), after first attempting to reach a voluntary, pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to monetary relief, the three-year consent decree, which remains under the court’s jurisdiction during the term of the decree, includes injunctive relief intended to prevent further workplace discrimination. Charter Communications will review and revise its written policies to achieve compliance with the ADA, provide regular training to all employees regarding the ADA, maintain a log detailing accommodation requests and complaints and conduct regular audits, and oversee recordkeeping and reporting requirements through a designated equal employment opportunity monitor. The EEOC will monitor compliance with the terms of this agreement.

“Employers should recognize that leaves of absence may qualify as reasonable accommodations under the ADA,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office. “When assessing accommodation requests, employers need to ensure they are engaging in an effective interactive process.”

Rosa Viramontes, district director for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office said, “Employers should be cognizant of their responsibilities under federal law regarding reasonable accommodations and put in place measures to prevent disability discrimination in the workplace.”

Addressing emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including issues involving the ADA is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

ADA Settlement Over Requirement That Front Desk Agent Stand Sets Back NYC Hotel $100K

Is insisting that a front desk agent stand while working worth being sued for disability discrimination? Apparently it was to this iconic NYC hotel.

Hyatt Corporation, which operates the Grand Hyatt hotel in New York City, will pay $85,000, provide paid leave worth approximately $15,000, and furnish other relief to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced May 30.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Hyatt violated federal civil rights law by refusing to accommodate an employee with a back impairment. Prolonged standing as a front desk agent aggravated the employee’s impairment and caused him severe pain. The employee requested a reasonable accommodation, namely that the hotel permit him to sit on a chair while working at the front desk. The hotel initially granted that request, then after two weeks the hotel reversed course, refusing to let the employee use the chair and otherwise failing to accommodate his disability.  According to the EEOC’s suit, being seated did not interfere with the employee’s performance of his job duties of registering guests, processing payments, and responding to guest inquiries.

This denial of accommodations violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the EEOC charged. Absent an undue burden to the company, the ADA requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to a qualified individual with a disability to enable him to perform the essential functions of his job.  This includes accommodations needed to allow an employee to work without severe pain.  The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Grand Hyatt New York, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-CV-07374) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York after first attempting a pre-litigation settlement through the EEOC’s conciliation process.

“Federal law on disability accommodations is very clear – employers must provide a reasonable accommodation so long as it does not cause an undue burden,” said Kevin Berry, the EEOC’s New York District director. “Something as simple as providing a chair for an employee working at a desk is rarely burdensome.”

Under the consent decree resolving the lawsuit, Grand Hyatt will pay $85,000 and provide six weeks of paid leave to the aggrieved employee, and also will provide him a chair so he can perform his duties seated. The consent decree further requires Grand Hyatt to provide training to its employees about their rights and responsibilities under the ADA. Additionally, the company will report the outcome of future requests for accommodations and complaints of disability discrimination to the EEOC.

Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office, added, “The EEOC remains committed to protecting the rights of people with disabilities, through litigation when necessary, so that employees with disabilities can work effectively and with dignity.”

EEOC trial attorney Sebastian Riccardi said, “We are pleased to finally get relief for this employee and institute necessary changes at the Grand Hyatt. This lawsuit could easily have been avoided if Grand Hyatt New York had done the right thing initially.”

The EEOC’s New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, admin­istrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, northern New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The New York District Office located in Manhattan conducted the investigation resulting in this lawsuit.

Scrivener Error: Company Settles With EEOC Over Job Offer Recall for Pregnant Applicant

In legal circles, the phrase “scrivener’s error” refers to correction of a typo in a legal document. It’s an easy fix. But when the employer took back a job offer to a pregnant scribe, the correction is more costly.

Portland-based medical documentation service Scribe-X Northwest will pay $80,000 and make significant changes to its policies and hiring practices to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced yesterday.

According to the EEOC’s investigation, 28-year-old Brittany Frisby applied online for a scribe position, got an offer, and completed all pre-hiring screens. But when she told Scribe-X she was ex­pecting a baby several months later, the company’s CEO called her and rescinded the offer. The CEO told Frisby that she should have notified the company about her pregnancy because it would not have hired her had it known. She tried pleading for her job to no avail, the EEOC said.

Rejecting a qualified applicant because of pregnancy is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Case No. 3:17-cv-01520-SI, after an investigation by EEOC Investigator Isabel Jeremiah and after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The three-year consent decree settling the lawsuit provides Frisby with $80,000 in damages for emotional distress and lost wages, and calls for important changes to Scribe-X’s personnel practices. The company has agreed to implement policies that explain employee rights and responsibilities, provide anti-discrimination training to employees with the express commitment of leadership as well as separate training for upper management, and report to EEOC on consent decree compliance. The parties also settled the EEOC’s claim that Scribe-X failed to preserve employment-related records.

“Why assume that becoming pregnant suddenly cancels out all the strengths and skills I bring to the table?” said Frisby. “If anything, I was even more motivated to prove my value and excel at my job because of my pregnancy. I’m glad the EEOC defended my workplace rights, and happy to know Scribe-X will make significant changes to its practices.”

EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney John Stanley said, “Ms. Frisby sought to earn a steady paycheck at a stable job to support a new child. By bringing her story to the EEOC, she tried to right a wrong, and this positive outcome allows her move on and ensures positive changes for current and future employees at Scribe-X.”

EEOC Seattle Field Director Nancy Sienko added, “Pregnancy discrimination continues to be a serious workplace problem. This case raised awareness of pregnancy issues, and the settlement gives the company a chance to set the right example for all employers in the Portland Metro area.”

Scribe-X Northwest has about 140 employees and, according to http://www.scribe-x.com, serves physicians and other health care providers by providing real-time documentation of physician-patient interactions in outpatient settings.

Harassment, Retaliation Claim Sets Back Chicago Fitness Club $45K in Settlement With the EEOC

Allowing sexual harassment to go unchecked is bad enough; retaliating against the complaining employee only digs the employer a deeper hole.

Lakeshore Sport and Fitness, a fitness club in Chicago, will pay $45,000 and provide other relief to settle a sex harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced Friday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a Lakeshore employee filed a discrimination charge against the company alleging she had been sexually harassed by another employee while working in the club’s restaurant and that her complaints were ignored. The employee claimed that the company fired her for making the complaints. Two other female employees also claimed that they were sexually harassed by the same employee.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. LHC Operating LLC d/b/a Lakeshore Sport and Fitness, No. 1:17-cv-06803) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago on Sept. 20, 2017 after first trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The consent decree settling the suit, entered by U.S. Magistrate Judge Gilbert on May 9, prohibits future sex harassment and retaliation and provides that Lakeshore will pay $45,000 to three former employees; post a notice of the settlement; and train its managers and supervisors regarding employer obligations and the rights of employees under Title VII.

“Particularly in this era of #metoo, employers must recognize the importance of taking claims of sexual harassment seriously,” said Julianne Bowman, district director for the EEOC’s Chicago District.

Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District, added, “Sex harassment in restaurant environments is sadly not uncommon. Without a clear mechanism for reporting and investigating complaints, the behavior can go on unchecked. We appreciate Lakeshore’s willingness to strengthen its policies to prevent this from recurring.”

The EEOC’s Chicago District is responsible for investigating charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.