EEOC Litigation Activity – June 2019

Date: 8/1/19
Title: EEOC Litigation Activity – June 2019

June was a busy month for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  They filed 16 lawsuits and settled nine during the month.  Disability and retaliation discrimination were the most prevalent types of discrimination with three disability and five retaliation lawsuits filed.   EEOC also settled three disability and two retaliation cases.

Summary of lawsuit by type

Age

  • Liberty Support Services, inc. [6/25/19] EEOC alleged that company either fired or failed to rehire several older workers based on their age.  The company employed several rest area attendants for a rest area that was temporarily closing for renovations.  During the time, they were laid off but were not told that they were being discharged.  Five months later, the employees, all over age 40, learned that they were discharged and replaced with younger employees, under the age of 40.  The company also failed to maintain employment records.

Disability

  • Rogers Behavioral Health [6/27/19] EEOC alleged that the inpatient residential facility rescinded an applicant’s job offer because she tested positive for a prescribed medication.  When asked to take a physical and a drug screen, the applicant disclosed that she had a prescription for anxiety medicine and revealed other medical impairments.  She tested positive for the disclosed medicine and the doctor found her medically acceptable to work. 
  • M&M Limousine Service [6/24/19] EEOC alleged that the company refused to hire or consider potential accommodations for a qualified deaf applicant.  M&M told the applicant that it could not hire him because he is deaf, despite his qualifications. 
  • Bluelinx Corp / Lake State Lumber [6/12/19] EEOC alleged that the company fired an employee because of his perceived disability.  The employee went on leave to have heart surgery but was released by his doctors to return to work with no restriction.  However, the company placed restrictions on his ability to work and assigned him a different job.  Nine days later, he was fired. 

Pay

  • Davis & Davis Enterprise, Inc. aka All Secure Security [6/3/19] EEOC alleged that the company paid a class of 11 female security guards less than their male counterparts, despite performing equal work under similar working conditions at events.
  • Asset Strategies International, Inc. [6/3/19] EEOC alleged that the company paid a female manager lower wages than males performing equal or less demanding work.  The female was promoted, trained and supervised six to eight representatives and performed additional administrative duties, in addition to her sales duties.  Even though she received a salary increase and was promised another one in six months, her salary was lower than other male managers and $5,000 lower than a newly hired representative whom she trained and supervised.  Even future salary increases resulted in lower earnings than male employees.

Pregnancy

  • Cassone Leasing [6/26/19] EEOC alleged that a pregnant employee was dismissed when the company learned of her pregnancy.  Upon hire, the employee was 12 weeks pregnant but did not disclose it.  During her 30-day review, she received a performance rating of “89” or “above satisfactory.”  However, the next day when the operations manager became aware of her pregnancy, he made the decision to fire her for pretextual reasons.

Religion

  • Greyhound Lines, Inc. [6/4/19] EEOC alleged that the company refused to accommodate the religious beliefs of a bus driver who was a practicing Muslim.  The employee applied for a driver position at another facility and during his interview the driver told the supervisor for driver operations and safety that her religious beliefs require her to dress modestly by wearing a headscarf and an abaya, a loose-fitting ankle-length overgarment that conceals the outline of her body.  She was offered the position and was told by the supervisor that the company would accommodate her beliefs but later refused to allow her to wear the abaya, claiming that it would be a safety hazard and proposed she wear a knee-length skirt over pants.  The driver quit claiming the proposal conflicted with her religious practice.

Retaliation (Race Discrimination)

  • Global Ministries [6/28/19] EEOC alleges that the Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church in Atlanta fired an employee for reporting race discrimination and retaliation.  The employee complained several times to human resources about the treatment.
  • Proctor Financial, Inc. [6/28/19] EEOC alleges that the company suspended a black employee for complaining about race discrimination.  The employee filed a charge with EEOC alleging that she was denied a promotion due to her race.  She amended her charge several months later to include a claim of race-based pay disparities when she learned that the company hired a white female at a higher hourly wage.  Shortly thereafter, she was disciplined whereas similarly situated employees who had not opposed discrimination were not disciplined.
  • George W. Morosani and Associates [6/26/19] EEOC alleged that a black employee was fired after he complained that his supervisor used racial slurs.  The maintenance helper alleged that the maintenance supervisor called him the N-word and accused him of complaining about being assigned “N-word work.”  He complained to a senior manager on the same day and was told that they would look into the matter; however, several days later he was discharged. 

Retaliation (Sexual Harassment)

  • Hat World, Inc. dba “Lids” and Genesco, Inc. [6/13/19) EEOC alleged that the company retaliated against a store manager who reported sexual harassment and filed a discrimination charge with EEOC.  The store manager complained about being sexually harassed by her district manager.  After being transferred to another store, she made another complaint and filed the charge.  She was fired shortly thereafter.

Retaliation

  • Legacy Land Management and Southern Coal and Affiliates [6/5/19] EEOC alleged that the two companies retaliated against a coal truck driver who opposed his former employer’s unlawful discrimination.  When his supervisor learned that he was testifying against another coal company, he took a series of retaliatory actions against him, including telling him that he should never testify against a coal company, giving him the ultimatum of transferring to a remote work site or to leave his job.  He was ultimately terminated. 

Sexual Harassment

  • Hunter Auto & Wrecker Service [6/26/19] EEOC alleged that the company subjected a female employee to a sexual hostile work environment.  One month after being hired male employees made unwelcome sexual comments or engaged in sexually offensive conduct almost daily.  Management ignored her complaints and six months later she quit.
  • Element Plastics Mfg. [6/20/19] EEOC alleged that the company creating a hostile work environment by subjecting a female employee to sexual comments, unwelcome touching and other improper and sexually hostile conduct by her supervisor and another employee.  Several weeks after complaining to her direct supervisor and a manager, she was fired in retaliation of her complaints. 

Summary of settlements by type

Age (Retaliation)

  • State of New Mexico, Corrections Department [6/10/19] entered into a pre-trial conciliation agreement and will pay $700,000 to several employees to resolve an age discrimination and retaliation lawsuit.  Several employees were denied promotions and job assignments, along with other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment because of their ages, over 40.  

Disability

  • Georgia Retail Company and Georgia Thrift Stores aka Value Village [6/20/19] entered into a three-year consent decree and will pay $45,000 in lost wages and compensatory damages to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit.  The company denied an employee’s requests for accommodation due to her disabling medical conditions and forced her to quit her job.  The store was aware of her medical conditions but failed to approve repeated requests for use of a portable oxygen tank and to be transferred to a less strenuous position. 
  • Illinois Action for Children (IAFC) [6/20/19] entered into a two-year consent decree and will pay $60,000 to a former employee to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit.  The company fired an employee who was on leave receiving treatment for breast cancer instead of granting her request for additional leave for more treatment.
  • L-3 Communications [6/11/19] entered into a consent decree and will pay $75,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit.  After working successfully for six years as an engineer the employee suffered two depressive episodes at work and went on medical leave.  He was released to return to work by his physician but L-3 required him to submit a fitness-for-duty exam before deciding whether he could return to his position.  Even though he passed the fitness-for-duty exam, L-3 gave him the option of resigning or being fired. 

Harassment and Retaliation

  • Alliance Ground International [6/20/19] entered into a consent decree and will pay $135,000 to four former employees to settle a sex harassment and retaliation lawsuit.  One employee filed a discrimination charge claiming that she was sexually harassed by her supervisor and her complaints were ignored.  The EEOC investigation uncovered at least two more females who were harassed by the same supervisor.  Also, a male witness who spoke up about the harassment was terminated.
  • Staff Management | SMX [6/17/10] entered into a three-year consent decree and will pay $50,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit.  EEOC alleged that a male manager made explicit sexual comments to female employees, demanded sexual favors from them, and exposed himself to one victim.  After receiving the complaint, the company conducted an investigation but allowed the manager to continue to work.  During that time, he threatened the woman and demanded to know why she reported his misconduct which led her to quit. 

Race (Harassment)

  • Aaron’s, Inc. [6/4/19] entered into a consent decree and will pay $425,000 to settle a racial harassment lawsuit.  Aaron’s subjected black employees to a race-based hostile work environment which included the use of the “n-word” by managers and calling them “monkeys.”  Black employees were also assigned more difficult tasks and longer delivery routes than others.

Religion

  • Memorial Healthcare [6/25/19] entered into a consent decree to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit.  As part of the decree, the company will pay $74,418 for refusing to hire an applicant because of her sincerely held religious beliefs to forgo inoculations.  She offered to wear a mask during flu season, an acceptable alternative practice under hospital policy for individuals with problems with the flu shot, but instead the offer was rescinded. 

Sex Discrimination

  • Northern Star (Pogo) LLC [6/13/19] entered into a three-year consent decree and will pay $690,000 in lost wages and compensatory damages to resolve a sex discrimination lawsuit.  One of the few woman underground miners was denied promotions while male colleagues with less seniority or training were promoted.  When she complained she was retaliated against by imposing additional training requirements, whereas male miners were able to advance without meeting the same requirements.

Sexual Harassment

  • Skyline Ultd [6/26/19] entered into a 2 ½ year conciliation agreement and has agreed to pay $2,500 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation charge.  Skyline will also provide anti-discrimination training to all employees and revise its policies against harassment and discrimination in the workplace. 

The foregoing has been prepared for the general information of clients and friends of Workplace Dynamics LLC and is not being represented as being all-inclusive or complete. It has been abridged from legislation, administrative ruling, agency directives, and other information provided by the government. It is not meant to provide legal advice with respect to any specific matter and should not be acted upon without professional counsel.