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EEOC SUES ASHLEY DISTRIBUTION SERVICES, LTD. FOR DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION (Apr. 2018)

Sunday, April 29th, 2018

Distribution and Delivery Company Refused to Hire Truck Driver with a Perceived Disability, Federal Agency Charges

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Ashley Distribution Services, Ltd., a Wisconsin corporation doing business in Advance, North Carolina, violated federal law when it refused to hire a truck driver because the company regarded him as disabled, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, Farrell Welch applied for a position as a yard driver at the Ashley Distribution Services, Ltd. facility in Advance, North Carolina around July 30, 2016. The EEOC alleges Ashley Distribution offered Welch the position on the condition that he obtain a Department of Transportation (DOT) medical certification, meet the physical requirements for the job, and show that he could perform the required job duties. Although Welch already had a valid DOT medical certification at the time of his application, he successfully completed a second DOT medical exam at Ashley Distribution’s request and successfully completed the company’s driving test. The company was concerned that Welch could not safely enter and exit a truck due to a rotator cuff injury Welch disclosed during his DOT medical exam, and the company required Welch to undergo a fit-for-duty exam. The EEOC said that Ashley Distribution did not hire Welch even though he was capable of performing the yard driver job.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities, including perceived disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, (EEOC v. Ashley Distribution Services, Ltd., Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-00338) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.

“An employer cannot refuse to hire an applicant based on fears or other assumptions about the applicant’s ability to safely perform the duties of the job, simply because the employer presumes an applicant has a disability,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC’s Charlotte District. “The EEOC will continue to litigate cases where disabled persons, including those who are regarded as being disabled, are denied jobs for which they are qualified.”

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.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Weekly Digest Bulletin: Disability, Sex, Sexual Harassment (Apr. 2018)

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

DDZ TO PAY $625,400 TO SETTLE EEOC SEX DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT

Louisville Printer Shunned Women for Hire Into Boxer/Packer Jobs for Nearly Three Years and Created Hostile Environment for Women, Federal Agency Charged

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – DDZ, Inc., doing business as DDZ CA, Inc., formerly known as Zoo Printing, Inc., will pay $625,400 to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Zoo Printing failed to hire female applicants for the position of boxer/packer at its Louisville facility between January 2013 and December 2015. The EEOC also alleged that female employees were subjected to a hostile work environment because of their sex.

Failing to hire applicants because of their sex and subjecting employees to a hostile work environment because of their sex violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit against DDZ, Inc., dba DDZ CA, Inc. in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Louisville Division (EEOC v. DDZ, Inc., dba DDZ CA, Inc., formerly known as Zoo Printing, Inc., Case No. 3:18-cv-199 (JHM-CHL)) on March 30, 2018. The parties reached agreement and filed a joint motion to approve a consent decree that same day. The motion was approved by the court and the consent decree was entered on April 13, 2018.

Under the consent decree settling the suit, DDZ is required to pay $625,400 to women who unsuccessfully sought employment as boxer/packers at the Louisville, facility between January 2013 and December 2015, and to women who were employed at the facility and determined by the EEOC as having been subjected to gender harassment.

The assets of Zoo Printing, Inc., including its name and Kentucky operations, were purchased by PrintBuyer, LLC in an asset purchase transaction in November 2016. PrintBuyer, LLC subsequently closed the Kentucky operations of Zoo Printing, Inc. in 2017. PrintBuyer, LLC is not a party to the consent decree.

“We are pleased the parties were able to resolve this matter without prolonged and expensive litigation,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Kenneth Bird. “This case demonstrates the EEOC’s ongoing commitment to eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring. We hope this settlement furthers the public’s understanding that hiring decisions need to be based on the applicant’s ability to do the job, regardless of gender.”

Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring that discriminate against women or other protected groups is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan.

The Louisville Area Office is part of the EEOC’s Indianapolis District, whose jurisdiction includes Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and parts of Ohio.

PRUITTHEALTH SUED BY EEOC FOR PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION
Raleigh Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Refused to Accommodate Pregnant Nursing Assistant and Forced Resignation, Federal Agency Charges

RALEIGH, N.C. – PruittHealth-Raleigh, LLC, a Georgia corporation doing business as a nursing and rehabilitation center in Raleigh, violated federal law when it refused to accommodate the preg­nancy-related work restriction of a certified nursing assistant and forced her to resign, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, PruittHealth offered light duty or job modifications to accommodate the temporary restrictions of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) who were injured at work. However, the company refused to grant similar accommodations or modifications to a CNA who experienced a pregnancy-related work restriction. The EEOC says that in October 2016, the company refused to accommodate the pregnancy-related 20-pound lifting restriction of CNA Dominique Codrington. Instead, the company’s assistant director of nursing and a human resources representative forced Codrington to resign or be fired.

The EEOC said that at all relevant times, the company had lifting devices and transfer belts available to help lift patients and did not prohibit CNAs from seeking the assistance of co-workers to lift patients manually. The EEOC contends that by refusing to accommodate Codrington’s pregnancy-related lifting restriction and forcing her to resign, the company violated the law.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits employers from discriminating against employees due to pregnancy, including preg­nancy-related conditions. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. PruittHealth – Raleigh, LLC, Civil Action No 5:18-CV-00165-D) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its concili­ation process. The EEOC seeks injunctive relief, including policy changes at the company, as well as back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Codrington.

“Employers must generally treat the work restrictions of pregnant employees just like those of non-pregnant employees,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “Companies must be careful not to violate federal anti-discrimination law when they pick and choose which employees to accommodate.”

MACY’S TO PAY $75,000 TO SETTLE EEOC DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT
Retailer Refused to Excuse Asthmatic Employee’s One-Day Absence and Fired Her, Federal Agency Charged

CHICAGO – Macy’s will pay a former long-term employee $75,000 to settle a disability discrim­ination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

The EEOC’s lawsuit charged Macy’s with firing an asthmatic employee, rather than excuse a one-day absence the employee needed to address emergency complications arising from her disability. This alleged conduct violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Macy’s, Inc/Macy’s Retail Holdings, Inc.; Civil Action No. 17-cv-05959) on Aug. 16, 2017 after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the EEOC’s conciliation process.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the asthmatic employee worked for Macy’s for nearly eight years, but she was fired after a one-day absence due to needing immediate medical attention for her asthma. Macy’s policy permits absences for disability-related reasons. However, in this case, Macy’s denied the employee’s request to excuse the absence, even though she had to be seen in a hospital emergency room, and fired her three weeks later.

Macy’s will pay $75,000 in monetary relief to the employee as part of a consent decree settling the suit and will provide additional relief intended to improve Macy’s workplace for employees with disabilities. Under the decree, Macy’s will train certain employees on disability law and accommodation requirements under the ADA. Macy’s will also monitor requests for accommodation and complaints of disability discrimination at its two Chicago stores and report those to the EEOC.

“The ADA requires employers to reasonably accommodate disability-related absences that enable their employees to perform their job,” said Julianne Bowman, EEOC’s district director in Chicago. “Here, a one-day absence would have enabled the employee to return to the job she held for almost eight years. We are pleased with today’s settlement which will compensate the victim and monitor Macy’s accommodation practices with respect to the ADA.”

Greg Gochanour, the regional attorney of EEOC’s Chicago District Office, said, “Macy’s response to the employee’s absence was not reasonable. The employee found herself in a potentially life threatening circumstance and phoned Macy’s to explain her absence before going to the hospital. The following day, she provided Macy’s documentation from the hospital showing she was treated for asthma. Rather than accommodate the employee, Macy’s fired her.”

The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with area offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

EEOC SUES ECOLOGY SERVICES, INC. FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT
Waste Management Company’s Physical and Verbal Harassment Forced Female Garbage Truck Driver to Quit, Federal Agency Charges

BALTIMORE – Ecology Services, Inc., a waste management services company headquartered in Columbia, Md., violated federal law when it subjected a female employee to a sexually hostile work environment which forced her to resign, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Com­mission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a female garbage truck driver, who began working for Ecology Services in Columbia in May 2016, was sexually harassed by a male helper who was frequently assigned to work with her. The EEOC charges that the helper repeatedly engaged in unwelcome sexual conduct and comments, including forcibly smacking and grabbing her buttocks; grabbing her breasts; forcing her to touch his genitals; and often making sexual comments and gestures.

The driver complained to her supervisor about the egregious harassment, but Ecology Services not only failed to stop the harassment, it continued to assign her to work with the harasser. The EEOC said that the driver was forced to resign in November 2016 due to the severe harassment.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits harass­ment based on sex. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Ecology Services, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-01065) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. As part of the suit, the EEOC is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of the driver, as well as broad injunctive relief.

“Preventing sexual harassment is an enforcement priority for the EEOC,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “No one should have to endure sexual assaults or crude sexual comments in order to earn a living.”

EEOC District Director Jamie R. Williamson added, “As the #Metoo movement has made all too clear, sexual harassment remains a serious problem in the workplace. The EEOC stands ready to protect workers, including women in non-traditional jobs, from pervasive sexual harassment if their employers fail to do so.”

The EEOC’s Baltimore Field Office is one of four offices in the Philadelphia District Office, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the Philadelphia District Office also pros­ecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.

Justice Department Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim Against Texas Company (Apr. 2018)

Saturday, April 21st, 2018

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced that it has reached a settlement with Themesoft Inc. (Themesoft), a Texas-based company that provides consulting and staffing services to technology clients. The settlement resolves the Department’s investigation into whether the company discriminated against a work-authorized immigrant by refusing to allow him to continue in the hiring process, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The Department’s investigation, initiated based on a worker’s complaint, revealed that Themesoft engaged in citizenship status discrimination against an asylee by refusing to process his application because he was not a lawful permanent resident, U.S. citizen, or H-1B visa holder. Asylees have permanent work authorization, like U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, refugees, and lawful permanent residents, so employers are generally prohibited from discriminating against them based on their citizenship status. The investigation also revealed that Themesoft requested specific immigration documentation from the worker because of his citizenship or immigration status even though the INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits such conduct.

Under the settlement agreement, Themesoft will pay civil penalties for the alleged citizenship status discrimination and the unfair documentary practices. Themesoft will also post notices informing workers about their rights under the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, train its staff, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements for three years. During the Department’s investigation, Themesoft agreed to pay the worker back pay and offered him a job. The Department’s agreement requires Themesoft to timely pay the worker the remainder of the $12,000 in back pay it still owes him.

“Employers must not engage in unlawful discrimination against asylees,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “This settlement serves as a reminder that companies that refer workers to third-party clients should be mindful of their non-discrimination obligations.”

The Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. Among other things, the statute prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation and intimidation.

For more information about protections against employment discrimination under immigration laws, call IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); sign up for a free webinar at www.justice.gov/crt/webinars; email IER@usdoj.gov; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites.

Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to retaliation; different documentary requirements based on their citizenship, immigration status or national origin; or discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee, should contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Weekly Digest Bulletin: Sexual Harassment, Disability Discrimination, and Retaliation (Apr. 2018)

Sunday, April 8th, 2018

COURT ORDERS SCOTTSDALE WINE BAR TO PAY $100,000 IN EEOC SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND RETALIATION SUIT

PHOENIX — A federal district court on March 21 ordered a Scottsdale, Ariz., wine bar to pay $100,000 for sexual harassment against two servers because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and for retaliation against one for complaining about it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which filed the suit, announced today. The court also ordered injunctive relief against Scottsdale Wine Café, LLC, doing business as 5th & Wine.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, 5th & Wine allowed its management and line staff to harass Wyatt Lupton and Jared Bahnick, including egregious name calling, comments, innuendos and touch­ing. Although the two employees complained to their super­visors, the supervisors did nothing about the conduct, and, in some instances, actually participated in the harassment, according to the federal agency. When Lupton mentioned that he planned on taking legal action against 5th & Wine, the company fired him, the EEOC said.

Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona (Civil Action No. CV-17-00182-PHX-JJT), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

After 5th & Wine failed to defend itself in court, the district court held a default judgment hearing on Feb. 6, where the judge found 5th & Wine liable for sexual harassment and retaliation. On March 21, the court granted the EEOC’s request to award Lupton and Bahnick compensatory and punitive damages totaling $100,000. The court also granted injunctive relief against 5th & Wine, including enjoining the company, its officers, agents, successors and other persons in active concert or participation with it from engaging in employment practices that discriminate on the basis of sex, including harassment because of sexual orientation, and retaliation in the future. The injunctive relief also required 5th & Wine and any successors draft and distribute policies regarding sex discrimination and retaliation, post equal employment opportunity notices and provide training on sex discrimination and retaliation.

“These two men were subject to absolutely unacceptable slurs and abuse at 5th & Wine, and we are proud that the district court understood the need to compensate them and to make sure that the company will take steps to prevent discrimination against others,” said EEOC Phoenix District Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “Employers must understand that this kind of misconduct will not be tolerated.”

EEOC Phoenix District Director Elizabeth Cadle added, “This company should have acted right away to put a stop to this unlawful behavior. Instead, it made a bad situation worse by punishing one of the victims. Employers may not discriminate against employees because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation – or retaliate against them for complaining about it.”

The EEOC’s Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and part of New Mexico (including Albuquerque). More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

STEMILT GROWERS AND AG SERVICES TO PAY $95,000 TO SETTLE EEOC HARASSMENT, RETALIATION SUIT
Latina Demoted After Refusing Supervisor’s Sexual Advances, Federal Agency Charged

SEATTLE — The largest grower of organic tree fruit in the United States, Wenatchee, Wash.–based Stemilt Growers and its wholly owned subsidiary Stemilt Ag Services, will pay $95,000 to a Latina tractor driver and implement preventative measures to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation dis­crimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Com­mission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Heidi Corona, the only female tractor driver at Stemilt’s Wenatchee orchard, faced sexual harassment by her direct supervisor on her second day at a new location. He drove her to a remote area and made sexually explicit comments, propositioned her for sex, and attempted to kiss her. Trapped in a moving vehicle at an unfamiliar and remote location with no cell service, Corona asked him to stop and stated that she was only there to work. When she reported the harassment to upper management, Corona was given a choice of continuing to work under that supervisor or transferring to a warehouse for a lower-paying job sorting fruit. To avoid further contact with the supervisor, Corona took the sorter position.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which requires employers to prevent and remedy sexual harassment and prohibits them from retaliating against an employee who reports harassment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Stemilt Growers, LLC and Stemilt AG Services, LLC, 2:17-cv-00210-TOR) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington after an investigation led by the EEOC’s Seattle Field office and after attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the agency’s conciliation process.

Under the consent decree, Stemilt will pay Corona $95,000 and will provide an anti-discrimination policy and annual training to all management and staff. The company also agreed to institute complaint-handling procedures and to hold management and supervisors accountable for how they respond to these matters. In addition, Stemilt will post a notice on the case, and report annually to the EEOC for a three-year period.

“I hope that as a result of this settlement, Stemilt will listen to a woman who reports harassment and will give her support and not punishment,” Corona said. “My message for other women workers is, ‘Don’t be afraid to use your voice, don’t stay silent.’ There are people at Northwest Justice Project and the EEOC who will help you find justice. The truth will come to light.”

Nancy Sienko, director of the EEOC’s Seattle Field Office, said, “Sexual harassment dominates the national conversation. Now more than ever, employers must show leadership, demonstrate accountability to all employees, and foster civil workplaces where everyone is shown respect.”

Carmen Flores, EEOC senior trial attorney, noted, “Ms. Corona just wanted to drive her tractor, a rare position for a woman to hold in that industry. Instead, she was forced to give up a job she loved and take a pay cut to avoid harassment, an all-too-familiar pattern for workers across industries as seen from #MeToo accounts. We hope this settlement sends a clear message that EEOC can be a key resource in the fight to end workplace sexual harassment.”

Wenatchee-based Stemilt Growers LLC and its wholly-onwed subidiary Stemilt Ag Services LLC operate and manage over 150 orchard in Eastern Washington.

SALVATION ARMY TO PAY $55,000 TO SETTLE EEOC DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT
Aid Organization Refused to Hire Qualified Applicant at Wasilla Store Due to His Intellectual Disability, Federal Agency Charged

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Global humanitarian organization The Salvation Army will pay $55,000 and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, The Salvation Army refused to hire Eric Yanusz as a donation attendant, an entry-level position, at its Wasilla, Alaska thrift store. The position required no prior experience and involved accepting and sorting donated clothing, furniture and household goods. Yanusz, who has an intellectual disability, had completed high school and a follow-up job readiness program, finished three internships at medical centers, and held a part-time job at a local church by the time he applied for the attendant position in spring 2014. After a successful first interview, the EEOC found that Salvation Army imposed a highly unusual second interview on Yanusz and ultimately rejected him due to unfounded concerns about his ability to interact with the public.

“I wanted to have a job and make money like everyone else,” said Yanusz. “I felt really good after my interview and thought I got the job.”

His mother, LuAnn Yanusz, added, “Eric was embarking on a new chapter in his life where the focus was on what he could do, rather than on his limitations. It was a big blow for him when he was rejected due to unfounded fears about his disability.”

Failing to hire a person based on disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska at Anchorage (Case No. 3:16-cv-00240-SLG) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. Yanusz was also represented by private counsel, Joanna Cahoon, from Disability Law Center of Alaska in Anchorage.

The three-year consent decree settling the lawsuit provides $55,000 to Yanusz in lost wages and compensatory damages. The decree also requires Salvation Army to train its corps officers and human resources personnel on hiring obligations and assessing reasonable accommodations under the ADA. The Salvation Army will also implement and disseminate a modified ADA policy, and will post a notice for employees about the consent decree and employees’ rights under the ADA.

EEOC attorney May Che said, “The ADA was enacted to ensure that employers evaluate candidates based on individual merit rather than general stereotypes about what people with intel-lectual disabilities can or cannot do. This settlement helps ensure that all workers have a level playing field and can participate in the workforce to their fullest ability.”

Nancy Sienko, field director for the EEOC’s Seattle Field Office, commented, “We are very pleased with the outcome of this lawsuit. The changes that will be implemented as part of this settle-ment will go a long way in reaffirming The Salvation Army’s mission.”

According to publicly available information and its website, www.salvationarmyusa.org, the Salvation Army employs over 100,000 people and serves over 120 countries worldwide.

EEOC SUES MERRITT HOSPITALITY, HEI HOTELS AND RESORTS LLC FOR DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION
Company Failed to Provide Ventilated Space for Employee With Asthma, Federal Agency Charges

SAN DIEGO — Merritt Hospitality, LLC and HEI Hotels and Resorts LLC, who together operate the Embassy Suites San Diego Bay, a San Diego hotel that has over 300 guest rooms, violated federal law when they denied a reasonable accommodation to an employee with asthma, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed Friday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the employee’s workspace at the hotel was in a room with no windows and no ventilation. These conditions triggered severe respiratory problems, which resulted in the employee being hospitalized overnight. Instead of engaging in the legally required interactive process to determine whether a reasonable accommodation, such as an air conditioning unit or different work space, could be provided, the hotel fired the employee, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (EEOC v. Merritt Hospitality, LLC, et al., Case No. (3:18-cv-0654 MMA-AGS) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC’s suit seeks monetary damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent and correct discrimination.

“The interactive process is at the heart of the ADA,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, whose jurisdiction includes San Diego County. “A good-faith dialog with an employee enables an employer to identify possible reasonable accommodations and prevents the employer from violating the ADA.”

Christopher Green, director of the EEOC’s San Diego Local Office, added, “Many accommodations for disabilities are low-cost or no-cost, causing little or no disruption to the business. Employers are required to explore such possibilities for good reasons.”

CORAL GABLES TRUST COMPANY TO PAY $180,000 TO SETTLE EEOC SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND RETALIATION SUIT
Male Supervisor Harassed Female Executive Assistant and Marketing Officer and Retaliated After She Complained, Federal Agency Charged

MIAMI – Coral Gables Trust Company (CGTC), a South Florida-based privately held trust company that provides wealth investment management and trust services throughout Florida, will pay $180,000 and provide significant equitable relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a female executive assistant and marketing officer was subjected to a hostile work environment based on her gender and then retaliated against after she complained. The hostile work environment included verbal and physical harassment based on her sex at CGTC’s Coral Gables office and at various locations throughout South Florida that the executive assistant visited on business trips.

Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit against CGTC in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division (Case No. 1:18cv21148-JAL/JJO) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through EEOC’s conciliation process.

The EEOC and CGTC reached an agreement to resolve the suit through a consent decree that requires the company paying $180,000 to the discrimination victim and providing her with a positive job reference. In addition, the decree requires that CGTC retain an independent equal employment opportunity consultant to investigate all complaints of sex-based harassment, discrimination or retaliation. The company must also distribute a revised policy against sex discrimination; post a notice informing employees about the suit; provide anti-discrimination training to all managers and employees; and provide individual training to the company’s chief wealth advisor. Further, CGTC agreed to designate two board members to receive future complaints of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation.

“The EEOC has long recognized the role that power imbalances in the workplace, such as those between managers and their direct subordinates, can play a role in permitting and perpetuating sexual harassment,” said Michael Farrell, district director for the EEOC’s Miami District Office. “Sexual harassment is plainly illegal under federal law, and the EEOC will continue to combat it.”

EEOC Miami District Office Regional Attorney Robert E. Weisberg added, “The EEOC will not only keep enforcing federal anti-harassment laws, it will also continue to encourage employers to implement and maintain robust training in order to prevent harassment from occurring in the first place.”

The EEOC’s Miami District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and conducting agency litigation in Florida, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Weekly Digest Bulletin Topics Include Pregnancy, Retaliation, Sexual Harassment (Apr. 2018)

Sunday, April 1st, 2018

EEOC SUES SIMPLICITY GROUND SERVICES FOR PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION
Pregnant Employees Forced on Unpaid Leave After Reporting Pregnancies, Federal Agency Charges

DETROIT – Simplicity Ground Services, P.C., an airline-ramp and cargo-handling company in Detroit, violated federal law by forcing an employee onto unpaid leave because of her pregnancy, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Raylynn Bishop was employed as a tow team driver for Simplicity Ground Services, a company responsible for transferring baggage on and off commercial flights at Detroit’s Metropolitan Airport. As a tow team driver, her job primarily consisted of driving a vehicle, and her job description contained no lifting requirement. The EEOC alleged that upon learning that Bishop was pregnant and had a 20-pound lifting restriction, Simplicity informed her she must go on unpaid leave and attempted to make her sign an amended job description which added a 70-pound lifting requirement. Simplicity also forced other pregnant employees to take unpaid leave because they were pregnant and refused to accommodate their pregnancy-related lifting restrictions with light-duty work. Non-pregnant employees with similar restrictions, however, were routinely granted light duty.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 2:18-cv-10989 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The federal agency seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Bishop and the other pregnant employees, as well as injunctive relief designed to end the discriminatory practice for the future.

“The EEOC’s investigation showed that pregnant employees were repeatedly treated as ineligible for light-duty assignments, a benefit that was otherwise a possible solution for temporary work restrictions,” said Kenneth Bird, regional attorney for the Indianapolis District Office. “This case presents an opportunity to remind employers that they cannot exclude pregnant workers from a benefit available to others with similar work limitations, unless there is a legitimate, non-discriminatory justification for doing so.”

The EEOC’s Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and parts of Ohio.

EEOC AND THE PHILIPPINES RENEW HISTORIC NATIONAL PARTNERSHIP AND OUTREACH AGREEMENT TO FIGHT JOB DISCRIMINATION
Pact Advances Ongoing Collaboration to Combat Job Bias

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines have officially committed to continuing to work together to combat employment discrimination, the EEOC announced today. In a ceremony at the Philippine Embassy today, EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic and Philippine Ambassador to the United States José Manuel G. Romualdez signed the renewal of the national memorandum of under­stand­ing (MOU), first signed on Feb. 12, 2015, continuing the partnership between local consulates and EEOC field offices nation­wide. Under its terms, the EEOC and the Philippine Embassy will work together to regu­larly provide information on workplace discrimination through joint educational sessions to Philippine nationals.

“Filipinos and Americans share the crucial core values of freedom and fairness,” said EEOC Acting Chair Lipnic. “That’s why the EEOC and the Philippine government are renewing this agreement to cooperate to fight employment discrimination and advance justice and opportunity for Filipinos in this country.”

Ambassador Romualdez remarked, “We value this partnership as a vital component of our efforts to assist the over 3.9 million Filipinos and Filipino-Americans in the United States in protecting their rights and facilitating the creation of safer and fairer work environments. The Embassy looks forward to furthering our cooperation with the EEOC in ensuring that Filipino workers in the United States are treated fairly and accorded the rights due them under U.S. law.”

The agreement will carry forward the ongoing collaborative relationship between these two entities to provide Philippine nationals with information, guidance and access to education and training resources to help them exercise their workplace rights.

OFF THE AIR, II, INC. SETTLES EEOC PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION SUIT
Nick’s Sports Grill Fired Pregnant Bartender When She Couldn’t Fit Into Hot Pants, Federal Agency Charged

DALLAS — Off the Air, II, Inc., which does business as Nick’s Sports Grill, a sports bar in Rowlett, Texas, will pay $24,000 and provide other relief to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, the mandatory uniform at Nick’s Sports Grill consisted of a tight, body-hugging shirt and short hot pants. The suit alleges that when Taylor King, a bartender, started wearing capri pants instead of the usual hot pants uniform and added a second layer of clothes to the usual tight top because of her pregnancy, the general manager told her that the owner would not approve, and forced her off the job.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, Case No 3:16-CV-3328, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The three-year consent decree settling the suit, entered by U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade on March 27, 2018, prohibits future discrimination and retaliation for complaining about it. Also, in addition to the monetary relief for King, the decree requires the company to disseminate specific parts of its employee handbook to all employees; provide annual training on pregnancy and other forms of discrimination; report all complaints of discrimination to the EEOC for the decree’s term; impose discipline up to termination on any manager who discriminates based on sex or permits such conduct to occur under his or her supervision; and post a notice on employee bulletin boards about the decree, explaining procedures for reporting discrimination.

“Even bars and clubs with provocative uniforms cannot discriminate by using the dress code requirement to oust a pregnant employee,” said EEOC Trial Attorney Toby Wosk Costas. “When the short, tight outfit no longer worked, Taylor King no longer had a job. She could have continued to work at Nick’s had she not become pregnant. Under civil rights laws, that’s pregnancy discrimination, which is a form of discrimination based on sex.”

King said, “Just because you look different as a pregnant woman, it doesn’t mean you can’t do your job. I want people to know that if you feel you are being discriminated against, you should do something about it.”

Robert A. Canino, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Dallas District Office, added, “Expecting mothers typically need to continue to earn an income as their family grows. This is another example of how myopic views by some employers about the value of women in the workplace operate to limit opportunities to females who are perfectly qualified and able to work.”

The EEOC’s Dallas District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Texas and parts of New Mexico.

EEOC SUES WATERFORD SCHOOL DISTRICT FOR RETALIATION
School District Failed to Recall Teacher in Retaliation for His Age Discrimination Complaint, Federal Agency Charges

DETROIT— The Waterford Public School System, a school district located in Waterford, Mich., violated federal law when it failed to recall a tenured teacher back to work in retaliation for his having filed a charge alleging age discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a former history and social studies teacher was subjected to a layoff. Because the teacher believed he was laid off because of his age, he filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC. Since then, the school district has recalled other teachers to work full time and hired a full-time social studies teacher, but has not recalled this teacher to his former position.

Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). After attempting to reach a pre-litigation resolution through its conciliation process, the EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District Court of Michigan (EEOC v. Waterford Public School System, Case No. 2:18-cv-11015). The agency seeks to recover monetary compensation for the employee and an injunction prohibiting the school district from engaging in retaliation in the future.

“Employees who oppose discriminatory practices have the right to do so without incurring harm to their careers and their livelihood,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Kenneth Bird.

The EEOC’s Detroit Field Office is part of the Indianapolis District Office, which oversees Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and parts of Ohio.

EEOC SUES BEAVERS’ INC. / ARBY’S FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF TEEN WORKERS
Atmore Arby’s Management Ignored Ongoing Sexual Harassment Despite Repeated Employee Complaints, Federal Agency Charges

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Beavers’ Inc., doing business as several Arby’s franchises in the Southeast, violated federal law when it subjected several teenaged female employees at an Atmore, Ala., Arby’s to sexual harassment at its location, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commi­ssion (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed on March 30, 2018.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, in May 2016, Arby’s hired a team leader trainee with a known history of sexual harassment who repeatedly pressured young female employees to have sex with him, and regularly used sexually graphic language to describe sexual acts he sought to perform on female emp­loyees and customers. The EEOC also alleges that the harasser deliberately touched one female employee in an unwelcome and sexual manner, and attempted to follow female emp­loyees home.

The EEOC further contends that these employees and others complained about the harass­ment up the chain of command to supervisors and managers, but Arby’s took no action for several months until the harasser physically injured one of the victims.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination which is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Beavers’ Inc., d/b/a Arby’s, Case No. 1:18-cv-00150) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama after its Birmingham District Office, Mobile Local Office com­pleted an investigation and first attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its concili­ation process. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages for the victims, including compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief.

“Federal anti-discrimination laws exist to protect workers from this kind of abuse,” said EEOC Birmingham District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas. “The EEOC will continue to aggressively pursue remedies for victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, particularly young, vulnerable workers. This kind of misconduct adversely affects not only the harassment victims themselves, but also the entire workforce, when timely and effective corrective action is not taken.”

Marsha Rucker, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham District, said, “Employers have an obligation to provide a workplace free from sexual harassment, and that obligation is not met solely by having a written policy. Employers must take complaints of sexual harassment seriously and act promptly to stop harassment of their workers.”

Beavers’ is a Florida corporation which owns and operates 51 Arby’s locations in the Florida panhandle, south Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana.

The EEOC’s Youth@Work website (at http://www.eeoc.gov/youth/) presents information for teens and other young workers about employment discrimination, including curriculum guides for students and teachers and videos to help young workers learn about their rights and responsibilities.

The EEOC’s Birmingham District consists of Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern counties) and the Florida Panhandle.

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.