Posts Tagged ‘Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’

Exposed: EEOC Says Staffing Co. Tolerated Male Supervisor’s Harassment of Female Employees

A staffing firm’s failure to move against a male supervisor who was harassing women has landed the firm in court opposite the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

An international staffing company violated federal law when it allowed a manager at a Kansas City, Kan., worksite to repeatedly sexually harass female workers on a manufacturing line, the EEOC charged in a lawsuit filed Feb. 2 in federal court.

According to the EEOC’s suit, a male account manager for Staff Management | SMX repeatedly made explicit sexual comments to female employees and demanded sexual favors. The harassment occurred at a Procter & Gamble manufacturing plant in Kansas City, Kan., where Staff Management | SMX hired and supervised employees who boxed soap for shipping.

One female employee, Jaurdai Walker, reported that the manager repeatedly called her “baby,” told her she was “sexy,” and asked her for oral sex in exchange for paid time off. She refused and reported the harassment to another supervisor, who told her she should “screw him” and take the extra pay. The harassment continued, and on one occasion the account manager exposed his genitals to Walker, according to the suit. After she reported the harassment again to a different supervisor, Staff Management | SMX conducted an investigation, but the company allowed the manager to return to work. The manager later threatened Walker and demanded to know why she reported his misconduct, the suit alleged. Other male employees also intimidated Walker because she reported the harassment. Walker was so traumatized by these actions and Staff Management | SMX’s failure to protect her that she was forced to quit her job.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects workers from sexual harassment. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, Case No. 2:18-cv-02058, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation resolution through the agency’s conciliation process.

“As the #MeToo movement has made all too clear, sexual harassment in the workplace is not limited to one industry, certain types of workers, by geographic area,” said Andrea G. Baran, regional attorney for the EEOC’s St. Louis District. “But there is one thing every case of sexual harassment has in common – that it can only be stopped when victims and bystanders speak up and break the silence.”

James R. Neely, Jr., director of the EEOC’s St. Louis District, said, “Employers – including staffing firms – are responsible for ensuring their workplaces are free from any type of sexual harassment. Companies that tolerate sexual harassment – or fail to adequately punish harassers – do so with blatant disregard for the law.”

Staff Management | SMX is a subsidiary of Tacoma, Wash.-based True Blue, Inc., which, according to its website, is the largest industrial staffing company in the United States. Staff Management | SMX provides temporary and seasonal workers to other companies throughout North America.

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Wastewater Company 0ut $150K in Settlement of “Textbook” Case of Mishandled Harassment

Here’s how not to handle a case of harassment on the job.

Aqua Resources Inc., a Delaware-based water and wastewater service company, will pay $150,000 and provide significant equitable relief to settle a federal racial harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Feb. 1.

The EEOC said that a white superintendent and white foremen at Aqua Resources’ Bear, Del., facility repeatedly made derogatory and offensive comments to and about an African-American foreman and black employees, including calling them racial epithets such as “n—-r,” “monkey,” and “boy.”

The African-American foreman complained to company management officials about the racially hostile work environment. Aqua Resources not only failed to stop the harassment, it instead promoted one of the harassers and even assigned him to supervise the African-American foreman, according to the suit. The company fired the black foreman in retaliation for complaining about the racially hostile work environment, the EEOC charged.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to harass employees on the basis of race or to retaliate against employees who complain about discrimination. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Aqua Resources, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:17-cv-04346) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $150,000 in monetary relief to the African-American foreman and class members, the two-year consent decree resolving the suit enjoins Aqua Resources from engaging in discrimination based on race or unlawful retaliation in the future. The company will provide training on federal anti-discrimination laws, including preventing harassment. Aqua Resources will implement and disseminate to all employees a revised anti-harassment policy, and will also post a notice regarding the settlement. The company will also provide the black foreman with a neutral reference letter.

“This is almost a textbook case on how not to handle a harassment complaint,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Office Director Jamie R. Williamson. “Employers must take prompt action to stop harassment — not reward a wrongdoer by promoting him and punish the victim by firing him.”

$80K Settlement Extricates Caregiver From Pregnancy Bias Suit Over Light-Duty Denial

Had this employer given a pregnant worker a light-duty assignment, it would have kept the EEOC at bay and saved itself some money.

Silverado, a network of memory care, at-home care, and hospice care centers, will pay $80,000 and provide other relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced Jan. 29.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Silverado discriminated against Shaquena Burton, a caregiver at the Silverado Oak Village facility in Menomonee Falls, Wisc., when it fired her rather than accommodate her pregnancy-related medical restrictions, which it could have done by putting her on light duty assignment.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which protects employees from discrimination based on pregnancy. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Silverado Menomonee Falls, LLC d/b/a Silverado Oak Village and Silverado Senior Living, Inc., Case No. 2:17-cv-1147) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in Milwaukee on August 22, 2017, after first trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The consent decree settling the suit, entered by U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller on January 29, prohibits future discrimination, prohibits retaliation, and provides that Silverado will pay $80,000 to Burton. Silverado must also post notices of the settlement, revise its anti-discrimination and record-keeping policies, report any requests for light duty or other job modifications periodically to the EEOC, and train its managers regarding those rights, obligations, and procedures.

“We thank Silverado for its commitment to settle this case before the sides incurred significant costs and its willingness to ensure a level playing field for its pregnant employees seeking job modifications, including light duty work, otherwise available to non-pregnant employees,” said EEOC Chicago Regional Attorney Gregory M. Gochanour. “The EEOC will continue to enforce the federal laws so that all pregnant employees have the same opportunities as non-pregnant employees to contribute to our thriving economy,” said Julianne Bowman, the EEOC’s District Director for the Chicago District Office.

Hospital Coughs Up $89K Over Firing of Workers Who Objected on Religious Grounds to Flu Shots

It may be sound medical practice to require your workers to get flu shots, but you can’t force shots on employees who object to them on religious grounds. At least not without first trying to accommodate those objections.

Mission Hospital, Inc., a North Carolina corporation based in Asheville and the main hospital of Mission Health System, has agreed to pay $89,000 and furnish other relief to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced Jan 12. The EEOC had charged that Mission Hospital violated federal law when it refused to accommodate and fired employees who declined flu vaccinations based on their religious beliefs.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, Mission Hospital requires employees to receive a flu vaccination annually by a date certain. An employee may request an exemption to the vaccination requirement based on religious beliefs, but the hospital requires that the request be made by Sept. 1, or it is subject to being denied. The EEOC alleged that Christine Bolella, Melody Mitchell and Titus Robinson requested religious exemptions to the vaccination requirement because of their various sincerely held religious beliefs, after the Sept. 1 deadline, and their requests were denied. Mission Hospital subsequently fired all three claimants.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to make a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs as long as doing so does not pose an undue hardship on the employer. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Asheville Division (EEOC v. Mission Hospital, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:16-CV-00118) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to providing monetary relief to claimants Bolella, Mitchell and Robinson, Mission Hospital entered into a two-year consent decree which requires it to, among other things, revise its immunization policy to permit employees to request an exemption during the same period in which flu vaccines are to be received. Mission Hospital must also conduct annual training for supervisors and managers on Title VII and an employer’s obligations with respect to religious accommodations; post an employee notice about the lawsuit; and provide periodic reports to the EEOC concerning requests for religious exemption from the flu vaccination requirement.

“Title VII requires employers to make a real effort to provide reasonable religious accommodations to employees who notify the company that their sincerely held religious beliefs conflict with a company’s employment policy,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “As a result of this lawsuit, Mission now has practices in place to better ensure that this happens.”

Island Breezes: Hawaiian Car Dealership Makes EEOC’s Retaliation Suit Disappear for $30,000

It’s elemental federal law that retaliating against an employee because she encourages other to fight employment discrimination is prohibited.

But this Hawaiian car dealership apparently forgot that truism.

Aloha Auto Group, Ltd. will pay $30,000 and provide other relief to settle a lawsuit for retaliatory discrimination filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Jan. 10.

The EEOC’s suit alleged that Aloha Auto Group fired Daniel Young because he encouraged a group of Asian-American and Pacific Islander employees at Aloha Auto Group’s Harley-Davidson dealership on Kauai to complain about a racially discriminatory comment.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit against Aloha Auto Group, Ltd. (EEOC v. Aloha Auto Group Ltd, Case No: 1:16-cv-00521-KSC) in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii in 2016 after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The consent decree settling the suit provides $30,000 in damages to Young and requiring Aloha Auto Group, Ltd. to designate an equal employment opportunity (EEO) monitor to ensure the company’s compliance with Title VII and anti-retaliation policies and procedures.

The decree also requires a complaint process and impartial investigations, together with a centralized tracking system for discrimination and retaliation complaints and provisions holding employees accountable for discrimination and retaliation. Annual training on race-based discrimination and retaliation will be provided for those involved in human resources and at the management level to educate them on their rights and responsibilities on race-based discrimination and retaliation, with the goal of preventing and deterring any discriminatory practices in the future.

“The EEOC takes retaliation seriously because it undermines the integrity of the federal process for reporting and preventing discrimination,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC’s Los Angeles District, which includes Hawaii in its jurisdiction.

Glory Gervacio Saure, director of EEOC’s Honolulu Local Office, added, “This settlement reinforces the EEOC’s unwavering commitment to ensuring that race-based discrimination has no place in today’s workplaces.”

According to the company’s website, www.aaghi.com, Aloha Auto Group owns and operates a chain of car and motorcycle dealerships throughout the islands of Hawaii.

Foul Fish: Wash. Seafood Company Unwraps $75K to Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

With the media fixated on sexual harassment by celebrities, it’s wise to remember that this illegal behavior also occurs in less reknowned settings.

Northwestern Washington-based Trans Ocean Seafoods, Inc., doing business as New England Shellfish, will pay $75,000 to three female former employees and implement other relief to settle a federal lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, a male employee made sexually explicit comments about and in front of female workers, including a 17-year-old and her mother. He targeted them on a near-daily basis despite numerous requests to stop, the agency alleges, and his words caused some of the women to fear he would sexually assault them.

One of the women reacted to the male employee’s conduct with nightmares and problems sleeping, and said that even years later, “I am not the same person as before.” Another said, “I just had to fight a lot to be me again. And I feel like Trans Ocean, they took away part of me…It’s something that I have to live with.”

Sexual harassment violates Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (EEOC v. Trans Ocean Seafoods, Inc., dba New England Shellfish, 2:15-CV-01563-RAJ), after an investigation by EEOC Investigator Annalie Greer and after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process.

Under the consent decree resolving this case, Trans Ocean Seafoods has also agreed to implement new policies, conduct extensive training for employees and management, post an anti-discrimination notice at the workplace, and report compliance to the EEOC for a two-year period.

“We have seen how hard it can be even for women with education, celebrity and power to speak out against sexual harassment,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Carmen Flores. “Imagine how difficult it was for these women, two of whom do not read or write and can only speak Mixtec. No one should have to endure sexual harassment just to feed and shelter themselves and their families.”

Nancy Sienko, Seattle field director for the EEOC’s San Francisco District, added, “Protecting vulnerable workers and addressing systemic harassment are both top priorities for the EEOC. We hope that this case sends a clear message that the EEOC will hold accountable employers who fail to protect their employees from workplace harassment.”

Trans Ocean Seafoods has a business office in Bellingham, Wash., and a processing plant in Mt. Vernon, Wash.

EEOC Recovers $50K for Female Employee Barred From Returning to Work Following Birth

Manhattanites pride themselves on their sophistication, but this clothing company evidently had a simplistic view of a new mother’s rights.

Manhattan-based apparel company R. Siskind & Company, Inc., doing business as Siskind Group, will pay $50,000 and implement revised anti-discrimination policies and procedures to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Siskind Group fired a customer service employee because of her pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions that included the effects of an emergency caesarean section. Although Siskind Group purported to grant the employee maternity leave, when she tried to return to work, she was informed that she no longer had a position for reasons that the EEOC said were pretexts for discrimination.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. The EEOC filed suit in July in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (EEOC v. R. Siskind & Company, Inc., Civil Action No. 17-cv-5175), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The consent decree resolving the suit was entered by U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest on Nov. 27. It provides that Siskind pay $50,000 in lost wages and damages to the former employee. The decree also requires multiple steps to prevent future discrimination, including anti-discrimination policies, training, and leave and accommodation procedures, which will be monitored by the EEOC for three years.

“We are pleased that because of this settlement, Siskind Group will institute policies and provide training so that its management will better recognize and protect the rights of women in the workplace going forward,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein.

EEOC New York District Director Kevin Berry added, “This case exemplifies the EEOC’s commitment to enforcing the law’s protections for women in the workplace, including pregnancy and childbirth.”