Posts Tagged ‘Title VII violation’

$30K Settlement Closes EEOC’s Religious Bias Suit for Rastafarian Employee at Orlando Resort

Grooming standards sometimes have to give weigh to religious accommodation in order to avoid violating Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Latest case in point: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced yesterday that an Orlando staffing company dedicated to Central Florida’s massive hospitality industry will pay $30,000 and implement a company-wide accommodation policy to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit

The EEOC’s lawsuit filed last July charged that HospitalityStaff violated religious discrimination law by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation to Courtnay B. Joseph, a Rastafarian, when it required him to cut his dreadlocks to comply with its client’s grooming standards in order to keep his position at an Orlando-area hotel. The EEOC said that HospitalityStaff took Joseph off his assignment and never reassigned him.

Rastafarians wear dreadlocks as part of their sincerely held religious belief, and making an employment decision because of such a religious practice violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Under the decree, which was agreed to soon after EEOC filed its lawsuit, HospitalityStaff agreed to pay Joseph $30,000 in damages. The company will also amend its employee handbook and policy manual to include a clear policy providing for reasonable accommodations covering both disability and religious-based requests. Further, HospitalityStaff agreed to provide training to its managers and human resources personnel, and to voluntarily provide information to EEOC concerning its handling of religious discrimination complaints for three years.

“HospitalityStaff’s decision to provide training and to implement policy changes relating to reasonable accommodations should be commended,” said Kimberly A. Cruz, supervisory trial attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District Office. “These policy changes demonstrate the company’s commitment to providing reasonable accommodations to its employees with sincerely held religious beliefs.”

“The Supreme Court’s opinion in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch reminds us that we must be vigilant in protecting sincere religious expression in the workplace,” said Robert Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District Office. This is particularly important where the Commission has recognized ‘the increasing complexity of employment relationships and structures, including temporary workers, staffing agencies, and independent contractor relationships’ in an ever more on-demand economy.”


A Real Pain: Dental Trade Association Shells Out $1.95M to Settle Title VII, ADA Retaliation Charge

Ouch! The American Dental Association might need to take an anesthetic for this one.

The association will pay $1.95 million to resolve charges that it violated Title VII of 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act by retaliating against its former chief legal counsel and HR director because they complained about discrimination to the association’s board of directors, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced on Friday.

The statement on the settlement from the association read:

The American Dental Association is pleased to be able to reach this amicable resolution of the allegations raised by Tamra Kempf and the former director of HR, and sincerely regrets the events that led to this dispute. Ms. Kempf and the former director of HR were dedicated and loyal employees whose primary motivation was the protection and furtherance of the interests of the association. As sometimes happens in business, differences arose between them and other members of the management team as to how various issues should be approached and handled, but this does not diminish the value of the many contributions that each made to the American Dental Association during their tenure. The associ­ation regrets that its actions led them to believe that they were retaliated against, and apologizes for any conduct that they may have construed as retaliation.

“The position of EEOC is that human resources professionals and in-house lawyers who advise their employers to abide by anti-discrimination laws are engaged in protected activities, and any retaliation against them for doing so is illegal,” said Julianne Bowman, director of EEOC’s Chicago’s District Office which oversaw the investigation.

EEOC Charges Manufacturing Company With Retaliating Against Sexual Harassment Complaint

The outcome of a retaliation lawsuit against an employer could depend on whether it can make its case that the employee filed a false claim of sexual harassment.

The EEOC filed this Title VII lawsuit against HP Pelzer, a company that manufactures automotive components in Athens, Tennessee.

According to the EEOC, a female employee alleged that a human resources manager at the Athens plant made unwelcome comments that the employee believed constituted sex harassment. Although the woman reported the comments to the plant manager, he delayed in investigating the allegation. The female employee reported the harassment to a higher official in the company, who ordered the plant manager to conduct an investigation. After completing the investigation, the plant manager informed the female employee that the company could not substantiate her complaint. The company then fired the employee, supposedly for violating its harassment policy. Specifically, the company claimed the employee “purposefully falsified a claim of harassment” in violation of company policy.

“Management officials may not retaliate against employees for their reasonable good-faith belief that the company subjected them to harassment in the workplace,” said Katharine W. Kores, district director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and portions of Mississippi. “Such a policy creates a chilling effect for employees in the workplace. The EEOC will continue to enforce the retaliation provision of Title VII.”

Tex-Mex Restaurant Sued By EEOC Over Alleged Harassment of Four Female Servers by Owner

An employer’s biggest sin when sexual harassment occurs is not taking action to stop it.

Because it allegedly took no action to stop ongoing harassment by its male owner of four female servers,  a Tex-Mex restaurant in Greensboro, Ga. find itself on defense in a federal district court.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced last Friday that it had file suit against El Chaparro.

According to the EEOC, in 2013 and 2014, El Chaparro’s general manager and co-owner showed the four servers pictures and videos containing sexual images, talked about the servers’ sex lives, and showed the servers shirtless photos of himself on a regular, sometimes daily, basis. The servers complained about the sexual harassment to the restaurant’s co-owner, but the company failed to take any action to stop the harassment. The four women are no longer employed by El Chaparro.

“Sexual harassment in the restaurant industry is a form of misconduct that, unfortunately, EEOC sees regularly,” said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, district director for EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “The fact that it was a proprietor of the restaurant who allegedly subjected the four servers to sexual harassment makes the conduct even more intolerable.”

Motel 6 Unlawfully Placed Pregnant Employee on Leave of Absence, EEOC Charges in Title VII Suit

Motel 6 goes by the slogan “we’ll keeps the lights on for ya” but for a pregnant employee at a Motel 6 in New Orleans the employment situation became very dim, according to a just-filed federal court lawsuit.

In a suit filed Aug. 31 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the hotel stands accused of forcing the employee to take a leave of absence because of her pregnancy.

As detailed in the lawsuit, Adrian Johnson, who worked at a New Orleans Motel 6, informed management that she was pregnant and that her pregnancy was considered high-risk.

On March 1, 2015, Johnson called her manager to inform him that she would be unable to work that day due to a pregnancy-related illness. The manager told Johnson that he was modifying the work schedule and taking her off the schedule for the entire week, despite the fact that she only needed one day off.

Six days later, Johnson attempted to call the manager to ask when she would be placed back on the schedule. Later that day, she received a text message from him stating that she was being placed on a leave of absence until her pregnancy was over. Johnson did not request to be placed on a leave of absence.

This violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which makes it illegal to discriminate in terms, conditions or privileges of employment because a worker is pregnant, the EEOC contends.

“This lawsuit should remind everyone unmistakably that federal law protects pregnant workers from such treatment,” said Jim Sacher, regional attorney for EEOC’s Houston District. “The fact that a manager would send a text explicitly suspending an employee because she is pregnant highlights the need for EEOC to continue its vigorous enforcement of pregnancy discrimination law – and that’s what we’ll do.”

If these allegations are true, then the motel would be wise to settle.

Let’s hope for the hotels sake this is an isolated incident and not evidence of hostility toward pregnant women throughout the chain.

6 Hospitality owns, operates and franchises over 1,300 economy lodging locations under the Motel 6 brand and the Studio 6 Extended Stay Brand. Headquartered in Dallas, G6 Hospitality employs more than 10,000 team members across the United States and Canada.

Here’s the EEOC’s announcement of the lawsuit.



Brokerage Firm in Court Opposite EEOC Over Taking Back Job Offer From Pregnant Applicant

A brokerage company that rescinded a job offer to a pregnant job applicant after she inquired about maternity benefits has been sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for pregnancy discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

According to the EEOC, Brown & Brown, a Daytona Beach-based insurance brokerage firm extended a job offer to the applicant with two proposed starting dates. Upon receipt of the offer letter, the applicant emailed the department leader, affirming her interest and seeking to ask a few questions regarding the offer. About two hours later, the applicant spoke with the department leader’s assistant and inquired about maternity benefits because she was pregnant. The assistant immediately advised the department leader of the applicant’s pregnancy and, minutes later, the applicant received an email rescinding the job offer because, according to Brown & Brown, it “had a very urgent need to have somebody in the position long term …We appreciate you telling us beforehand.”

The bottom line: “Pregnant women have the right to seek jobs and not be denied employment because they are pregnant,” said Robert Weisberg, EEOC’s Miami regional attorney.

Here’s the EEOC’s announcement of the lawsuit.

Fired Ambulance Technician to Recover $55K in Settlement of Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

Another employer has learned the hard way that refusing to accommodate a pregnant worker will hit it in the pocket book.

The employer in the EEOC’s crosshairs this time is First Call Ambulance Service, LLC, a Nashville-based company that provides non-emergency medical transport and ambulance services throughout Tennessee, Ohio and Virginia.

The EEOC charged in a Title VII lawsuit against the company that after a female technician informed First Call of her pregnancy and presented a doctor’s note that restricted her from lifting patients greater than 200 pounds without assistance, the company refused to accommodate her. First Call removed the employee from the work schedule, told her she could not work because of her pregnancy and forced her to take unpaid leave.

At the same time, First Call allowed non-pregnant employees to use a power cot to lift patients. EEOC charged that the company maintained an unlawful policy of refusing to accommodate female employ­ees with lifting restrictions due to pregnancy, while providing comparable accommodations to non-pregnant employees.

EEOC said First Call agreed to pay $55,000 to settle the lawsuit.

Here’s the EEOC’s announcement of the settlement.