Posts Tagged ‘settlement’

Hotel Ignored Harassment, Now Must Pay Up in EEOC Settlement in Case Involving Housekeeper

This hotel turned a blind eye to sexual harassment going on right under its nose.

The DoubleTree Hotel in Jefferson City, Mo. will pay $45,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, an operator of the DoubleTree Hotel in Jefferson City violated federal law when it allowed a male room inspector to sexually harass a female housekeeper. Specifically, the EEOC alleges that Vinca Enterprises, Inc., which operates this DoubleTree Hotel in Missouri’s capital city, failed to stop the room inspector from regularly making offensive sexual comments and engaging in unwanted physical contact with a female house­keeper.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting it. The EEOC’s suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Vinca Enterprises, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:20-cv-04021-NKL) alleges that although management and an owner were aware of the inspector’s unwelcome comments and behavior, Vinca failed to investigate or take appropriate action to stop the unlawful harassment and protect the employee.

The two-year consent decree settling the suit, entered by Judge Nanette K. Laughrey, requires Vinca Enterprises to pay compensatory damages to the housekeeper. In addition, Vinca Enterprises will take steps to prevent future discrimination and harassment against employees. Vinca will hire a consultant to assess workplace risk factors associated with sexual harassment; report the consultant’s findings to the EEOC; implement stronger policies and procedures prohibiting sexual harassment and discrimination; provide all employees with and clear guidance on sexual harassment; establish investigation procedures; and report sexual harassment complaints to the EEOC.

“Employers are responsible for preventing workplace harassment. Unfortunately, housekeeping employees at hotels are particularly vulnerable to such harassment and often believe they have no recourse,” said Andrea G. Baran, the EEOC’s Regional Attorney in St. Louis. “Sexual harassment is unlawful and bad for business.”

L. Jack Vasquez, director of the EEOC’s St. Louis District office, said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The EEOC is committed to preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. But when harassment does occur, we encourage affected employees to report the harassment to their employers and, if necessary, to the EEOC to ensure the unlawful conduct does not continue.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, including sexual harassment. The St. Louis District office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and a portion of southern Illinois.

Software Publisher to Reform Training Practices, Pay $200K in ADA Hiring Settlement With EEOC

As the nation marks the 30th anniversary of the ADA, a reminder we have a ways to go to make sure qualified applicants can compete fairly for jobs.

Foster City-based software publisher Guidewire Software, Inc. will pay $200,000 and hire a consultant to facilitate changes to its policies and training practices to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Guidewire invited a qualified applicant to participate in a phone screening for a position at the company based on her online application and resume. The applicant asked to have an in-person interview to accommodate her limited ability to clearly hear sounds via telephone and computer. But after briefly discussing potential accommodations with the applicant, and despite internally approving her request for an in-person interview, Guidewire never contacted her again, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which pro­hibits employers from discriminating based on disability or perceived disability. The EEOC filed suit on Oct. 22, 2019 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, Case No. 5:19-cv-06878-LHK, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

The consent decree settling the lawsuit provides $200,000 in lost wages and compensa­tory damages to the applicant. Guidewire will also implement policies and procedures regarding reasonable accommodations, including permitting applicants to appeal denials of requests for accommodation. The company will also provide annual training to certain managers and human resource personnel, and report to the EEOC during the decree’s three-year term.

“This individual just wanted the chance to compete fairly with the other applicants for the job,” said EEOC Trial Attorney James H. Baker. “The law requires that employers provide appli­cants with disabilities with the reasonable accommodations needed to do just that.”

EEOC Director for the San Francisco District Office William Tamayo added, “Elimin­ating barriers in recruiting and hiring for individuals with disabilities is a top priority for the EEOC. We commend Guidewire’s willingness to promptly resolve this lawsuit and to imple­ment robust ADA policies and procedures.”

In fiscal year 2019, the EEOC recovered over $116,000,000 stemming from alleged violations involving the ADA.

Guidewire is a software publisher for property and casualty insurers. Founded in 2001, it employs more than 2,200 employees at dozens of locations around the world.

The Eyes Have It: Employer Settles Suit With EEOC Over Firing of Employee With Glaucoma

Having glaucoma is not a fireable offense. What matters is whether the person can do the job despite the impairment.

Brock Services, LLC, has agreed to pay $35,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced yesterday.

According to the EEOC, Brock Services forced an employee to take three eye examinations after learning he had a vision impairment related to glaucoma in one eye. Despite his glaucoma, the eight-year employee could perform the essential functions of his position.  After the third exam, Brock Services fired the employee.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) which prohibits discrimination based on an employee’s disability. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division (Civil Action No. 1:19 cv 00212) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

“The EEOC will continue to ensure employers understand their assumptions about an individual’s disability should play no role in their workplace decisions,” said Rudy Sustaita, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Houston.

The 15 month consent decree prohibits Brock Services from engaging in similar discriminatory conduct in the future. The company has also agreed to conduct disability discrimination training programs for managerial employees.

The EEOC’s Houston District Office has jurisdiction over parts of East Texas and all of Louisiana.

Broadcast Blues: CBS Affiliate Pays $215K to Settle Age Suit Over Hiring of Traffic Reporter

Be careful when hiring someone based on an amorphous “it” standard.

CBS Stations Group of Texas will pay $215,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a federal age discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced Monday.

CBS Stations Group of Texas is a division of New York-based CBS Corporation. CBS Corporation owns and operates a group of 29 television stations throughout the United States, including a Dallas/Fort Worth television station, KTXA, Inc., locally known as “CBS 11.”

The EEOC charged that CBS violated federal law when it refused to hire Tammy Dombeck Campbell for a full-time traffic reporter position at the Dallas/Fort Worth station because of her age. The EEOC said that Campbell had worked for CBS 11 as a freelance, non-staff traffic reporter.

When the station’s morning full-time traffic reporter resigned in October 2014, the company initiated a search for a replacement. The CBS job announcement stated that “the ideal candidate” would have a strong knowledge of local traffic in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and that the “applicant must have at least five years professional broadcasting experience.” The EEOC said that CBS 11 hired a 24-year-old applicant for the full-time traffic reporter position. The younger applicant was a former NFL cheerleader, and the EEOC maintained that the she did not meet the hiring criteria CBS had advertised. CBS 11 also had made an offer to a 27-year old applicant who accepted and then withdrew from the hiring process.

Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which prohibits discrimination against people age 40 or older. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. CBS Stations Group of Texas; Television Station KTXA and KTVT-TV, Civil Action No. 3:17-cv-02624) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Under the consent decree signed by U.S. District Chief Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn, resolving the suit, CBS Stations Group of Texas will pay will pay $215,000 to Ms. Campbell and commits not to engage in age discrimination. The company will also provide training on the ADEA, publish a notice of employee rights, and report to the EEOC on its compliance with the requirements of consent decree.

“Tammy Campbell was clearly qualified for the position of traffic reporter,” said Joel Clark, EEOC senior trial attorney for the Dallas District Office. “The EEOC argued to the court that CBS 11 preferred a younger, less qualified applicant, and that the employer defaulted to unfounded stereotypes about female reporters.”

EEOC Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino added, “In explaining its decision, the company relied on what was called the ‘it’ factor. The EEOC was prepared to prove that, for Ms. Campbell, ‘it’ was her age. We hope that the resolution of this case will be another step forward in moving past ageist attitudes that can limit opportunities in the field of broadcast television.”

Revelation: EEOC, Employer Settle ADA Case Over Firing of Employee For Disclosing Disability

Revealing a disability is not a fireable offense.

A Wauseon, Ohio knife manufacturer will pay $20,900 in back pay and non-economic damages and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced July 1. The EEOC charged that Busse Combat Knife Company violated federal law by discharging a worker after he revealed a disability.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the employee left work early when he experienced a problem related to his disability. After he notified his supervisor of the problem, the owner of the company asked him why he had not disclosed his disability at hire and ordered him to provide a medical note clearing him to work. The employee submitted the note, but the employer then fired him because of his disability, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which mandates that covered employers not fire employees because of a disability. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Toledo (Case No. 3:18-cv-00144) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the monetary relief, the one-year consent decree resolving the suit provides for injunctive relief including review of, and possible revisions to, Busse’s discrimination policies and training for the owner and supervisor on the requirements of the ADA.

“The ADA is clear: an employer cannot fire an employee because he reveals a disability,” said Dale Price, the EEOC attorney who handled the case. “The training and review of the policies under the consent decree provide meaningful protections for the employees of Busse Combat Knife. With this resolution, the defendant has taken a positive step towards protecting the rights of employees with disabilities in the workplace.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov. The EEOC’s Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and parts of Ohio.

Blacks, Women Beneficiaries of EEOC $568K Settlement With Illinois Temp Staffing Agencies

It’s a more level playing field now for minority and female applicants applying for jobs through these temp agencies.

Personnel Staffing Group, LLC, doing business as Most Valuable Personnel (MVP), and MVP Workforce, LLC will pay $568,500 to resolve a race and sex discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced June 29.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, temporary employment agencies MVP and MVP Workforce dis­criminated against black and female applicants and employees by refusing to send them on work assign­ments or by sending them for fewer work hours. The EEOC’s suit charges that the companies did so either on their own initiative or to honor the discriminatory requests of clients who did not want black workers or sought only men for certain assignments.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of race and sex. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago (EEOC v. Personnel Staffing Group, LLC d/b/a Most Valuable Personnel and MVP Workforce, LLC, Civil Action No. 1:20-cv-03683 on June 24, 2020. The suit involves MVP and MVP Workforce locations in Cicero, Joliet and Franklin Park, Ill. The court approved the parties’ proposed consent decree resolving the litigation on June 29, 2020.

As a result of negotiations before EEOC filed its suit, EEOC and MVP and MVP Workforce agreed on a two-and-a-half-year consent decree. Under its terms, MVP and MVP Workforce are enjoined from engaging in race or sex discrimination in their referrals and from retaliation in the future. MVP Workforce will adopt a process to identify qualified applicants or employees for temporary work assignments; inform applicants and employees how to complain of discrimination; create and maintain records of all applicant information; provide periodic reports to EEOC about its applicants, referrals, and any complaints of race or sex discrimination; and train employees who are involved in the hiring and assignment process about Title VII. MVP, which is not currently doing business in Illinois, must implement the same measures if it resumes operations in Illinois.

The monetary relief paid by MVP and MVP Workforce will also resolve similar claims of race and sex discrimination brought in the related lawsuits Cox, et al. v. Personnel Staffing Group, LLC, Case No. 16 C 11282 (N.D. Ill.); Hunt, et al. v. Personnel Staffing Group, LLC, dba MVP, et al., Case No. 16 C 11086 (N.D. Ill.); Smith, et al. v. MVP Workforce, LLC, et al., Case No. 18 C 03718 (N.D. Ill.)

“The EEOC appreciates MVP and MVP Workforce’s willingness to work with the agency to resolve this matter without protracted litigation to provide relief to victims of discrimination and undertake measures to prevent future discrimination,” said Gregory Gochanour, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago.

Julianne Bowman, EEOC’s district director in Chicago added, “Temporary agencies, like other emp­loyers, are prohibited under federal law from discriminating based on race or sex in work assignments, even if it is their clients who are making the discriminatory requests. When a temp agency complies with such requests, it violates the law.”

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

Talk to Me: Absence of Dialogue Over Disabled Employee Cited in ADA Settlement With Employer

This is ADA 101: You must engage a disabled employee in dialogue to determine if they can do the job.

ASICS America Corporation will pay $49,650 to a former employee to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced yesterday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a temporary staffing agency assigned a worker with hearing and speech disabilities to work at ASICS’s warehouse distribution center in Byhalia, Miss. After the worker completed an orientation meeting, members of ASICS’s human resources department told her the com­pany could not employ her due to her disabilities and failed to engage in the interactive process with the worker to determine whether she could perform the essential functions of the position.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, Oxford Division, Civil Action No. 3:19-cv-00227, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

ASICS will pay the former employee $10,000 in back pay and $39,650 in compensatory damages. ASICS also agreed to implement non-monetary remedies at its Byhalia, Miss. location, to: review and revise its written policy on disability discrimination to explain the process to request a reasonable accommodation; disseminate the policy to all employees and have them sign and acknowledge receipt within 90 days of entry of the decree; and train all managers and human resources employees on disability discrimination and reasonable accommodations.

“The ADA ensures that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to achieve success in the workplace,” said Faye A. Williams, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and portions of Mississippi. “The EEOC commends ASICS and its attorneys for working with the agency to resolve this lawsuit to the satisfaction of all.”

Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director of the Memphis District Office, said, “Employers should ascertain whether their employment handbooks are updated so supervisors, managers, and employees know what the ADA requires.”

EEOC, Realtor Settle Retaliation Case

Eradicating workplace discrimination will never happen if employees fear complaining about it.

George W. Morosani and Associates, LLC, an Asheville, N.C., commercial real estate company, will pay $11,000 and provide other relief to settle a retaliation discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced June 29.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the employee worked as a maintenance helper at the company’s Wellington Community Estates in Arden, N.C. On July 27, 2017, the employee complained to a managing member of the company about his supervisor’s use of language the employee believed to be racially discriminatory. Within several days of the complaint, the company fired the maintenance helper in retaliation for his complaint.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who complain about discrimination in the workplace. The EEOC filed suit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. George W. Morosani and Associates, LLC, Civil Action No 1:19-cv-00203-MR-WCM) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Asheville Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

In addition to providing monetary relief for the maintenance helper, the two-year consent decree settling the suit requires George W. Morosani and Associates to adopt an anti-discrimination policy and provide training for all managers, supervisors and employees on Title VII and its prohibition against retaliation in the workplace. The company will also provide periodic reports to the EEOC on employee complaints about discrimination and any adverse actions employees experience.

“We applaud George W. Morosani and Associates’ willingness to work with the EEOC to resolve this matter,” said Kara Haden, acting regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District. “The company has taken positive steps which will benefit its employees moving forward and emphasize the importance of the federal equal employment opportunity laws.”

$25K Settlement in EEOC Suit Against Employer Over Accommodation Denial to Deaf Employee

Deaf employees continue to confront unlawful barriers to employment.

Powerlink Facilities Management Services, a Michigan-based management and maintenance services company, will pay $25,000 and provide other relief to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced on Monday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Powerlink violated federal law by failing to provide a reason­able accommodation to a deaf employee. The company uses training videos during its employee orien­tation. Instead of providing the employee with an accommodation to participate in the orientation, Powerlink claimed she could not complete the process because its videos did not have closed-captioning for the hearing-impaired. The employee was unable to complete the orientation and start work for about two months.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). After first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process, the EEOC sued Powerlink in the Eastern District Court of Michigan (EEOC v. Powerlink Facilities Management Services, LLC, Case No. 2:19-cv-12055).

In addition to the monetary relief, the two-and-a-half-year consent decree settling the suit provides for injunctive relief, training on the ADA, and reporting to the EEOC.

“Failing to provide deaf applicants or employees a reasonable accommodation violates the ADA,” explained Nedra Campbell, trial attorney for the EEOC. “Powerlink should be com­mended for agreeing to this consent decree and taking steps to resolve this case prior to trial.”

According to its website, Powerlink Facilities Management Services was started in 2003. The company has hundreds of employees working in the United States and Canada.

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

Child’s Play: NYC Medical Practice Settles EEOC Suit Over Ouster of Jehovah’s Witness From Job

Employers don’t get to decide for employees when their time off for religious observance is justified.

Pediatrics 2000, a Manhattan private medical practice serving children and teens, has agreed to pay $68,000 and take substantial non-monetary action to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Pediatrics 2000 was aware that its worker was a Jehovah’s Witness when she was hired and initially accommodated her request not to work on Wednesdays due to her religious practices on that day. But then the company demonstrated animus toward her religion, saying that her religion was a “cult,” and placed her on probation for “missing” work on Wednesdays. When the worker requested to be excused from the company’s holiday party for religious reasons, she was fired — even though other employees were permitted to miss the party for non-religious reasons.

Such conduct violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which protects employees from discrimin­ation because of their religious beliefs in the workplace. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (EEOC v. Pediatrics 2000, Civil Action No. 19 Civ. 9076), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process. This case was litigated by EEOC trial attorney Liane T. Rice, supervised by supervisory trial attorney Kimberly A. Cruz.

On June 30, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos entered a four-year consent decree to resolve the case. The decree gives $68,000 in lost wages and other damages for the worker and grants injunctive relief, including: the creation of anti-discrimination policies and procedures that commit Pediatrics 2000 to provide equal opportunity in all aspects of employment, including religious beliefs; the appointment of equal employment opportunity coordinators to investigate and resolve discrimination complaints; training for both management and employees about their rights and obligations under Title VII; an employment reference for the employee; and periodic reporting to the EEOC.

“Accommodation of an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs is the law, and EEOC will enforce this obligation in court when necessary to bring an employer into compliance,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein.

Judy Keenan, the EEOC’s New York District director, said, “The diversity of our community demands that employers understand Title VII’s prohibitions against religious discrimination.”

The EEOC’s New York District Office 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.