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

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.

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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.”

$105K Owed to Female Sales Rep at Calif. Company Who Was Paid Less Than Male Rep

It took a year for a California company to make good on its obligation to pay a female salesperson the same as her male counterpart.

Spec Formliners, Inc., a Santa Ana, Calif.-based business, will pay $105,000 and provide other relief to settle an equal pay lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced on Wednesday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, filed in November 2016, Spec Formliners paid a female sales representative less than a male sales representative in base pay. The EEOC also contended that the company required the female sales representative to sell more to earn the same commission as her male colleague.

Such alleged conduct violates the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed its lawsuit on Nov. 17, 2016 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (EEOC v. Spec Formliners, Inc., Case No. 8:16-cv-02066-BRO-AJW) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

As part of the consent decree settling the suit, Spec Formliners will pay $105,000 to the former employee. In addition to the monetary relief, Spec Formliners also agreed to retain external equal employment opportunity consultants who will assist the company in creating, reviewing and revising its policies and practices to ensure compliance with Title VII and the EPA. The external EEO consultants will also assist the company in conducting fair pay audits, reviewing and revising its recruitment practices, and preparing annual reports for the EEOC on the company’s progress. Spec Formliners further agreed to conduct anti-discrimination training and distribute the revised policies to all employees. The EEOC will monitor Spec Formliners’ progress with the 2.5-year decree.

“We commend Spec Formliners for agreeing to put measures in place that will help remove barriers for female sales representatives and ensure equal pay for equal work,” said Anna Park, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, which includes Orange County in its jurisdiction. “Employees will do their best work when they know that their efforts are fairly compensated.”

Rosa Viramontes, director of the agency’s Los Angeles District Office, added, “The changes that will be implemented as part of this settlement will ensure that female sales representatives will receive fair compensation for sales equal to those of their male counterparts. This not only benefits female employees, but also the company as a whole.”

According to the company’s website, www.specformliners.com, Spec Formliners creates and customizes form liner patterns for concrete projects.

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.”

Staffing Firm in EEOC’s Glare After Firing of Woman Who Complained of Harassment

A staffing agency only made things worse when one of its employees complained she’s been sexually harassed by a co-worker, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Anchor Staffing, a Chicago-based staffing agency, violated an employee’s federal civil rights when it failed to respond adequately to her complaint about sexual harassment, removed her from her work assignment, and denied her any future work, the EEOC charged in a lawsuit it filed on November 1.

According to Julianne Bowman, the EEOC’s district director in Chicago, the EEOC’s pre-suit investigation revealed that a female employee, whom Anchor Staffing assigned to work as a telephone operator at the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), was sexually harassed on her first day of work by another Anchor Staffing employee assigned to IDHS.

“After she complained to Anchor Staffing about the harassment, Anchor immediately removed the employee from her assignment at IDHS and failed to provide her any other work assignments, effectively firing her,” Bowman said. “Punishing a harassment victim for standing up for her rights is unconscionable and unlawful, and the EEOC will fight such misconduct.”

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination (including sex harassment) as well as retaliation in employment. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case, EEOC v. Anchor Staffing, Inc., Civil Action No. 17-cv-7899, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, and has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Andrea R. Wood.

The EEOC’s regional attorney for the Chicago District, Greg Gochanour, said, “Employees of staffing agencies, who constitute a large and growing share of the American workforce, are protected by federal civil rights laws. Like any employer, staffing agencies must react appropriately to complaints of sexual harassment. Here, Anchor Staffing responded unlawfully to an employee complaint by making her worse off when it terminated all her work assignments, both present and future.”

The EEOC seeks full make-whole relief, including back pay, future employment opportunities, compensatory and punitive damages, and non-monetary measures to correct Anchor Staffing’s practices in the future. The government’s litigation effort will be led by EEOC Trial Attorneys Brad Fiorito and Rich Mrizek and supervised by EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Diane Smason.

Water Company Turned Blind Eye to Harassment, Retaliation Against Black Employees, EEOC Says

It’s going to take a concerted effort by all concerned–employees, managers, company executives–to extinguish racial harassment from the workplace. Here’s a case in point where management fell down on the job and the alleged harassment continued.

Aqua America, Inc., doing business as, Aqua Resources Inc., a Pennsylvania-based water company, violated federal law by subjecting black employees to a racially hostile work environ­ment and firing a foreman in retaliation for complaining about the harassment, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced on Oct. 4.

According to the suit, Aqua hired Henry Blue, who is African-American, in January 2015 as a foreman at its Bear, Del., facility. The EEOC charged that his supervisor, a white superintendent, and other white foremen repeatedly made racially offensive jokes and derogatory comments, including calling Blue and other black employees racial slurs such as “n—-r,” “monkey” and “boy.” The superintendent also told a white employee “not to n—-r the truck up,” the EEOC said.

Blue complained to company management officials about the offensive racial comments to which he and other black employees were subjected. Aqua not only failed to stop the harassment, but it even promoted one of the wrongdoers and assigned Blue to work under his supervision on a project, the EEOC said.  In May 2016, Aqua fired Blue 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 individuals who complain about discrimination. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Aqua America, Inc., d/b/a 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. As part of the suit, the EEOC is seeking back pay on behalf of Blue and compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of Blue and other class members, as well as broad injunctive relief.

“All employees have the right to earn a living without being subjected to racial epithets and derogatory comments,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Office Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.

EEOC District Director Kevin Berry added, “Aqua was put on notice about the vile harassment but punished one of the victims instead of the wrongdoers. The EEOC has provided detailed recommendations and resources to assist employers in preventing workplace harassment, but will take strong enforcement action when employers choose to ignore their legal obligation to have a workplace free from harassment and retaliation.”

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.”