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

Ford Pays Big to Settle Harassment Lawsuit

Even for a major car manufacturer, $10 million is alot to pay to settle allegations of harassment.

Ford Motor Company has agreed to pay up to $10.125 million to settle sex and race harassment for a group of individuals which was investigated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) at two Ford plants, the federal agency announced yesterday.

In its investigation, the EEOC found reasonable cause to believe that personnel at two Ford facilities in the Chicago area, the Chicago Assembly Plant and the Chicago Stamping Plant, had subjected female and African-American employees to sexual and racial harassment. The EEOC also found that the company retaliated against employees who complained about the harassment or discrimination.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Ford chose to voluntarily resolve this issue with the EEOC, without admission of liability, to avoid an extended dispute.

The conciliation agreement provides monetary relief of up to $10.125 million to those who are found eligible through a claims process established by the agreement. The agreement also ensures that during the next five years, Ford will conduct regular training at two of its Chicago-area facilities; continue to disseminate its anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies and procedures to employees and new hires; report to EEOC regarding complaints of harassment and/or related discrimination; and monitor its workforce regarding issues of alleged sexual or racial harassment and related discrimination.

“Ford Motor Company has worked with the EEOC to address complaints of harassment and discrimination at these two facilities and to implement policies and procedures that will effectively prevent future harassment or provide prompt action when harassment complaints arise. Ford has taken its responsibilities seriously and is committed to providing its employees with a work environment free of discrimination and harassment,” said the EEOC’s Chicago District Director, Julianne Bowman.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.

EEOC: Harassment Pervasive Against African American Employee at Sporting Goods Store

No one should have to put up at work with what an African American employee at a Washington State sports retail store had to put up with.

One of the Western United States’ largest sports retailers, Big 5 Sporting Goods, violated federal law when it allowed ongoing racial harassment, including death threats, and retaliatory discipline against a black manager trainee at its Oak Harbor, Wash., store, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit filed on July 20.

Robert Sanders was the only African-American employee at Big 5’s location on Whidbey Island. According to the EEOC’s investigation, the store manager and various assistant managers called Sanders “spook,” “boy” and “King Kong” and told him that he had the “face of a janitor.” The agency found that even though Sanders repeatedly reported this conduct to upper management, the company failed to act and Sanders instead faced escalated harassment as well as retaliation in the form of increased workloads, denial of breaks, and unwarranted discipline. After he was forced to take several leaves due to stress, one assistant manager told Sanders, “We will hang you, we will seriously lynch you if you call in again this week.” Another assistant manager asked Sanders if he was “ready to commit suicide,” offering “assistance” when he was ready to do so.

“I came prepared to work hard and put in my dues to become a manager,” Sanders said. “But I was met with comments about my race: ‘You’re the perfect definition of ‘spook’ because your skin is so dark, but your teeth are so white.’ And it went downhill from there, to being taunted by another manager trainee about ‘ending up in a river, dead.’ Whidbey Island is a small place, and I didn’t want to leave my house. I felt like Big 5 took away my ability to not just succeed at work, but to simply live my life with dignity and without fear.”

Racial harassment and retaliation violate Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964. After first attempting to reach a prelitigation settlement through its conciliation process, the EEOC filed its lawsuit (EEOC v. Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp., Civil Number 2:17-CV-01098.) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The EEOC seeks monetary damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief to remedy and prevent harassment and retaliation in the workplace.

EEOC Trial Attorney Carmen Flores said, “Mr. Sanders simply wanted to come to work and earn a living. Instead, his promising career opportunity was poisoned by hate and threats from his managers and coworkers. I hope that our lawsuit in this case will send a message to all employers that they need to take swift action when alerted to workplace harassment.”

Nancy Sienko, field director for the Seattle office of the EEOC’s San Francisco District, added, “The delay by Big 5 to take action to investigate and stop the racial harassment and retaliation is in­excusable. The slurs and threats that Mr. Sanders faced have a terrible history and should never be tolerated. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that all employees can work in a safe environ­ment free from racial hostility so they can succeed to their highest potential.”

Big 5 Sporting Goods is headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., and operated 433 stores as of Jan. 1, 2017, with9,000 full-time employees.

EEOC Outs Parking Mgmt. Co. For Rejecting Applicant Because of “Physicality of Job”

Stereotypes about age and gender were factors in the decision by a Georgia parking management company to reject a 60-year-old female applicant for a valet job, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it recently filed.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, on or about Jan. 12, 2016, 60-year-old Valencia Hayden applied for a valet position with Eagle Parking. During her interview, the operations manager looked at Hayden’s application and told her that she would not be successful as a valet because of the “physicality of the job.”  Instead, the operations manager told Hayden that she would be perfect for a customer service position and told Hayden to come back the following week to attend orientation. The day before she was scheduled to begin her new positon, Hayden called to ask what time she should report. However, the operations manager told Hayden that the job had already been filled. Eagle Parking’s records show that, after Hayden was interviewed, it hired several male valets and customer service employees who were substantially younger than Hayden.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC filed suit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Eagle Parking, LLC, Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-2904-TWT-CMS) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The federal agency seeks back pay, compensa­tory damages, punitive damages and liquidated damages for Hayden, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination in the future.

“This suit sends a strong message to employers that applicants must be judged strictly on their ability to perform the job, and not on stereotypes associated with their gender and age,” said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director of the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office.

Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the Atlanta District Office, added, “What is most disturbing about this case is that the hiring official automatically assumed that Ms. Hayden was not qualified to work as a valet or customer service parking manager because of her age and the fact that she is a woman. Such managerial behavior is not legal or acceptable in the 21st century.”

Houston Company Gave no Consideration to NonHispanic Applicants, EEOC Alleges in Suit

A Houston-area company might as well have put up a sign saying “NonHispanics need not apply.”

Champion Fiberglass, Inc., a Houston-area manufacturing company, violated federal anti-discrimination laws by engaging in systemic discrimination against non-Hispanic applicants, according to a lawsuit filed on July 20 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today. The lawsuit charges that a class of non-Hispanic applicants for employment were not hired or even con­sidered for employment by Champion because of their race and/or national origin.

According to the lawsuit, Champion engaged in a pattern or practice of intentionally failing to hire non-Hispanic applicants and job seekers for laborer positions. The EEOC also maintains that Champion maintained a preference that its laborers speak Spanish, which violated Title VII because it had a disparate impact on non-Hispanic applicants.

The EEOC also alleges that Champion’s word-of-mouth recruiting had an adverse impact on non-Hispanic applicants and job seekers. The EEOC maintains that Champion’s illegal policies and practices resulted in an almost exclusively Hispanic laborer workforce within the company.

Such alleged conduct violates violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 4:17-cv-02226) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks an injunction prohibiting such actions in the future, as well as back pay with pre-judgment interest, and compensatory and punitive damages in amounts to be determined at trial.

“Refusing to hire or even consider an applicant or job seeker for a laborer position because of his or her race or national origin unlawfully and unconscionably deprives people of equal opportunities within the workplace,” said Rayford O. Irvin, district director of the EEOC’s Houston District Office.

Rudy L. Sustaita, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Houston, explained, “Title VII prohibits an employer from relying on non-job related criteria that it knows will exclude persons because of their race or national origin. The EEOC will defend victims of this sort of discrimination.”

The EEOC’s senior trial attorney in charge of the case, Connie Gatlin, added, “By refusing to permit job seekers who do not speak Spanish to even apply for a position, without a valid, justifiable reason for doing so, an employer engages in discriminatory practices that violate Title VII.”

Champion Fiberglas manufactures fiberglass conduit, struts and hangers for the industrial, electrical and mechanical markets.

EEOC Files Title VII Suit Against Cafe Over Pants Requirement for Female Pentecostal Employee

We take a break today from disability discrimination cases to bring you news of a religious discrimination lawsuit filed against an employer who insisted on strict application of its dress code, at the alleged expense of an employee’s right to a religious accommodation.

Sleneem Enterprises, LLC, a franchise operator of Tim Horton’s Café and Bake Shop in Romulus, Mich., violated federal law by refusing to permit an employee to wear a skirt instead of pants in accordance with her religious beliefs, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged in a lawsuit filed on June 19.

In its suit, the EEOC charged that employee Amanda Corley wore a skirt to work at the Tim Horton’s Romulus location instead of the standard uniform pants. She did so pursuant to her Pentecostal Apostolic faith. When she attempted to present a letter from her pastor explaining why she could not wear pants, management refused to accept the letter and informed her she was fired.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which requires employers to provide reasonable religious accommodations to employees. The EEOC filed suit (Case 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 EEOC is seeking injunctive relief prohibiting Sleneem from discriminating against other employees who need religious accommodations in the future as well as lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages and other affirmative relief for Corley.

“Sleneem’s refusal to accommodate Corley and the decision to instead fire her were completely unjustified and unlawful,” said EEOC Indianapolis Regional Attorney Kenneth Bird, whose jurisdiction includes Michigan. “It would have been simple to allow Ms. Corley to wear a skirt, and would not have negatively impacted the business in any way. Employers have an obligation to provide these types of reasonable religious accommodations, and when they fail to, the EEOC will step in.”

EEOC: Janitorial Service Wouldn’t Hire Blacks

An East Coast janitorial service provider is in hot legal water with the federal government over its hiring practices.

Janitorial Service Provider Diversified Maintenance Systems, LLC violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by discriminating against a class of African-American candidates because of their race, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit it filed today. Additionally, the EEOC said the Tampa-based company subjected a black employee to racial slurs, subjected him to other discriminatory practices and retaliated against him for opposing it.

In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that since at least Jan.1, 2012, Diversified engaged in an ongoing pattern or practice of race discrimination against African-American job applicants in Maryland and the Washington D.C. and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. The company refused to hire blacks for custodian, lead custodian or porter positions, the EEOC said.

Diversified’s district managers for these areas allegedly instructed area managers not to hire African-American applicants unless special permission was granted. Area managers were also instructed to deter black applicants by repeatedly emphasizing to them that the company performed criminal background checks. African-Americans subsequently withdrew from the hiring process as a result, the EEOC said.

During a hiring fair in Waldorf, Md., in 2014, a district manager knowingly and falsely told blacks who had just been hired that the company did not have any openings at the time, and then revoked their employment offers, the EEOC said.

The EEOC also charged that district managers subjected African-American janitorial supervisor Dana Fields to severe and repeated acts of race harassment, including calling him the “N” word and other abusive language in the presence of customers and employees. Fields supervised janitors assigned to numerous big box retail stores throughout southern and central Maryland. Despite Fields’s complaints to upper management and the human resources department, no remedial action was taken.

On the contrary, Fields was allegedly subjected to retaliatory treatment in being demoted; having his workload increased far in excess of his counterparts; and being denied the tools and staff necessary to perform his job duties. This resulted in his frequently working 18-hour days, having to clean the floor of a large retail store on his hands and knees in an attempt to meet the company’s demands, and being subsequently fired while hospitalized due to the stress of these physical exertions imposed on him.

“An entire class of black candidates were denied hire because of the color of their skin,” said EEOC District Director Spencer H. Lewis. “And under federal law, workers who stand up to employers and to oppose their discriminatory practices may not be punished for doing so.”

Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, “Race-based barriers to employment will not be tolerated and we will strongly advocate for the rights of those who suffer such mistreatment.”

The lawsuit was commenced by EEOC’s Baltimore Field Office, one of four component offices of EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office. The Philadelphia District Office is responsible for cases originating in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.  Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.

$1.9M Settlement in EEOC Suit Charging Chicago Restaurant With Not Hiring African Americans

“Rosebud” was the last word spoken by the lead character in Citizen Kane, in reference to his beloved sled from his boyhood. But Rosebud means something else for African Americans in and around Chicago, as a business that won’t hire them.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced today that Rosebud Restaurants, Inc. will pay $1.9 million and furnish other relief to settle a class race discrimination lawsuit filed by the commission.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, 13 Italian restaurants operated by Rosebud in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs refused to hire African-Americans because of their race. The EEOC also charged that managers, including Rosebud owner Alex Dana, used racial slurs to refer to blacks.  At the time EEOC began investigating Rosebud’s hiring practices, many of its restaurants had no African-American employees at all.

The EEOC also asserted that Rosebud violated federal regulations by failing to maintain employment applications for one year and by failing to file employer information reports providing employment data by job category, race, ethnicity, and gender.

Race discrimination in hiring violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The EEOC filed suit against Rosebud on Sept. 17, 2013 (case number 13-cv-6656) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its concili­ation process. The suit resulted from a charge of discrimination filed by former EEOC Commissioner Constance Barker.

The consent decree settling the suit, approved by Magistrate Judge Mary Rowland, calls for Rosebud to pay $1.9 million to African-American applicants who were denied jobs.  Additionally, Rosebud has agreed to hiring goals for qualified black applicants, with the aim that 11% of Rosebud’s future workforce be African-American.  In addition, the decree enjoins Rosebud from engaging in race discrimination or retaliation in the future. It also requires Rosebud to recruit African-American applicants, train employees and managers about race discrimination and retaliation, provide periodic reports to EEOC on compliance with the decree’s terms for four years, and post notices informing employees of the decree’s terms.

The restaurants covered by the suit include The Rosebud; Carmine’s; Rosebud on Rush; Rosebud Prime; Mama’s Boy; Rosebud Steakhouse; Rosebud Deerfield; Rosebud in Naperville; and the closed restaurants Rosebud Old World Italian; Rosebud Theatre District; Rosebud of Highland Park; Rosebud Burger & Comfort Foods; Rosebud Trattoria; Joe Fish; EATT; Bar Umbriago; and Centro.

EEOC Chicago District Director Julie Bowman said that she was pleased with the cooperation between EEOC and Rosebud in resolving the suit.

“Although it has been several years since the EEOC filed suit, the case was resolved after a lengthy negotiation process that occurred before any depositions were taken in the case and without significant pre-trial motions, sparing both sides from incurring substantial litigation expenses,” said Bowman.

EEOC Chicago Regional Attorney Gregory Gochanour noted, “African-Americans have faced and still face barriers in being hired at upscale restaurants, especially in visible, and often well-paid, positions such  as server. That is why the recruiting and hiring relief in this decree is so important. It will lead directly to qualified blacks being hired for front- and back-of-the-house positions, helping to remedy past discrimination by Rosebud and ensuring equal employment opportunities for future African-American applicants.”