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Beware: Discrimination Resulting From Layoffs


In June 2009, EEOC settled two major lawsuits evolving from layoffs.  Schott North America (Elmsford, NY) will pay $1,450,000 and sign a 3-year consent decree enjoining Schott from engaging in unlawful discrimination or retaliation under Title VII; and requires annual anti-discrimination training for all supervisors and managers at the Duryea, PA facility; and the posting of a settlement notice.  EEOC charged that Schott laid off women because of their sexafter a company reorganization in October 2004 in its specialty glass plant in PA.  Six plaintiffs and five class members were involved in the lawsuit.  As part of the reorganization, the company created a new position and used a "skills matrix" to determine who would obtain these new positions.  The company laid off employees whodid not select for this new position.  EEOC charged that the skills matrix system benefited male employees and did not accurately measure the skills truly needed to perform the new position and had an adverse impact on female applicants who were selected for layoff at a significantly higher rate than male employees.  According to EEOC Philadephia District Director Marie M. Tomasso, "Companies must make hiring and layoff decisions based on the indiviudal's qualifications and abilities, and not because of gender".

Area Erectors, Inc. (Rockford, IL) will pay $630,000; offer reinstatement, and sign a 3-year consent decree which enjoins the company from engaging in future discrimination; requires the implementaton of a policy and a complaint procedure for handling compliants against race discrimination and retaliation; mandates training to employees; and periodic reporting to EEOC regarding layoffs and complaints.  EEOC charged that Area Erectors terminated a class of 23 Black employees because of their race and retaliated against Giles Jefferson as retaliatory measures after learning that he had filed a lawsuit against another employer for race discrimination.  EEOC found "that Area Erectors had a practice of laying off Black employees after they had worked for the company for short periods of time but retained white employees for long-term employment".