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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.

On-Demand Civil Rights Webcasts Available: Delivering Public-Facing Programs and Activities in Compliance with Federal Law

Friday, April 20th, 2018

Delivered by Civil Rights Expert and Author Seena Foster

In 2017, State and local government officials are applauding the webcasts, stating they are “outstanding,” “very informative,” and “extremely useful.” Each webcast is only $29.00.

Available Selection

Compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act: An Overview

Compliance with the Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity Provisions of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act: A Comprehensive Overview

Discrimination Complaint Investigations under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act:  Proper Process and Technique

State and local government officials responsible for the delivery of, or monitoring the delivery of, services, aid, training, or benefits to the public must comply with Federal civil rights laws. These laws also apply to service providers, on-the-job trainers, contractors, and partners that assist in delivering public-facing programs and activities. Our webcasts provide practical training for new and experienced professionals working in the area of equal opportunity.

Because the webcasts are on-demand and certificate-based, they provide a convenient and inexpensive way to acquire and document training of staff, contractors, service providers, and partners.

How to register:
To register, simply click on the “Webcast Registration” icon on the left side of this blog. Or, go to https://engage.vevent.com/rt/titleviconsulting.

Cost-effective.  Only $29.00 each. No travel costs.  No lost time from work. These webcasts are absolutely the best value for your dollar!

Content-rich.  Each webcast is packed with useful information, guidance, and helpful tips. Each participant receives a copy of the detailed PowerPoint presentation for the webcast, which may be used as a checklist going forward.

Certificate-based.  Within three to five weeks, each participant who registers and attends the webcast will receive a personalized, signed “Certificate of Completion” to document the training.  

Title: Compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act: An Overview
Description:
This popular webcast provides an informative overview of how to comply with the nondiscrimination mandates of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI applies to the administration, oversight, and delivery process of all state and local programs and activities that are federally-assisted. In this webcast, we’ll focus on the scope and meaning of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, and we will touch on a variety of compliance-related issues, including environmental justice, serving limited English proficient populations, contracting and procurement, discrimination complaints, harassment and hostile environment, training, monitoring, and data collection. Participants will understand the meaning of race, color, and national origin-based discrimination through Ms. Foster’s use of a variety of easy-to-understand examples. And, participants will learn about surprising federal enforcement policies to include certain types of religious-based discrimination as prohibited under Title VI. A detailed PowerPoint is available for download to viewers of this webcast.

Title: Compliance with the Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity Provisions of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act: A Comprehensive Overview
Description: 
This webcast provides a wealth of information, guidance, and tips to help you ensure compliance with the nondiscrimination and equal opportunity provisions of Section 188 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and related Federal civil rights laws that apply to the administration, oversight, and delivery process for WIOA Title I-financially assisted programs and activities. In this webcast, we’ll cover a broad range of compliance issues, including taglines, assurances, Equal Opportunity officers (their selection and duties, and the recipients’ obligations in support of EO officers), serving persons with disabilities, serving LEP populations, differences between program complaints and discrimination complaints, harassment and hostile environment, and data collection, including requirements for the discrimination complaint log and storage of medical information. A detailed PowerPoint, updated after promulgation of the final version of the WIOA regulations at 29 C.F.R. Part 38, is available for download to viewers of the webcast.

Title: Discrimination Complaint Investigations under the Workforce Investment Act:  Proper Process and Technique
Description:
This webcast covers the discrimination complaint investigation process from start to finish, including determining jurisdiction, developing a complaint investigation plan, framing the issue of an investigation, developing interrogatories, preparing a letter of acceptance, gathering and analyzing information, interviewing the parties and witnesses, and writing the notice of final action.  Each participant of this webcast will receive a set of templates that they may customize and use for their investigations, including a jurisdiction checklist, sample complaint investigation plans, sample notices rejecting a complaint, a sample letter of acceptance, and a sample notice of final action. Complaint investigation templates and a detailed PowerPoint are available for download to viewers of the webcast. Complaint processing templates and a detailed PowerPoint are available for download to viewers of the webcast.

About Seena Foster
Seena Foster, award-winning civil rights author and Principal of the discrimination consulting firm, Title VI Consulting in Alexandria, Virginia, provides expertise and guidance in the areas of compliance and civil rights investigations to state and local governments, colleges and universities, private companies, and non-profit organizations. To that end, she offers one-hour on-demand webcasts, full-day and half-day in-person training sessions, discrimination complaint investigation assistance, and mediation services addressing a variety of types of discrimination such as racial discrimination, sex discrimination, disability discrimination, age discrimination, and religious discrimination. Federal non-discrimination laws are complex, and they affect our workplaces as well as the delivery of our Federally-funded programs and activities. Her book, Civil Rights Investigations under the Workforce Investment Act and Other Title VI Related Laws: From Intake to Final Determination, has been described as an “eye-opening” reading experience and a “stand-alone” training resource. Ms. Foster’s resources and materials are designed to support the work of civil rights and discrimination professionals in the public and private sectors.

Her background includes 24 years as Senior Legal Advisor to the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges, where she drafted decisions and orders and developed resources and aids promoting consistency and efficiency in several national adjudication programs. In 2012, Ms. Foster received the U.S. Secretary of Labor’s Exceptional Achievement Award “for outstanding leadership and legal guidance in helping the Office of Administrative Law Judges address the major changes in law” stemming from enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

In 2003, Ms. Foster served as a Senior Policy Analyst to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Civil Rights Center (CRC). In that capacity, she led a team of equal opportunity specialists to conduct disability-based technical assistance reviews of One-Stop centers, and she assisted the CRC’s leadership in preparing for limited English proficiency-based compliance reviews. Ms. Foster also analyzed and weighed witness statements and documents to prepare numerous final determinations for signature by CRC Director Annabelle Lockhart, which resolved discrimination complaints under a variety of federal civil rights laws such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act.

In 2006, Ms. Foster received the Secretary of Labor’s Equal Employment Opportunity Award in recognition of “exceptional efforts to ensure that individuals with disabilities have full access to employment and related services and benefits at the Nation’s One-Stop Career Centers.” And, at the request of the CRC, Ms. Foster served as a popular workshop speaker at national equal opportunity forums co-sponsored by the CRC and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. Her presentations covered topics such as the Section 188 disability checklist, conducting discrimination complaint investigations and writing final determinations, and conducting investigations of allegations involving harassment and hostile environment.

Ms. Foster is a graduate of the George Washington University Law School, and she carries certification in federal workplace mediation from the Northern Virginia Mediation Service as well as mediation certification from the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI). Ms. Foster also is a member of the Human Rights and Discrimination Law committees of the International Bar Association. You may contact her at seena@titleviconsulting.com.

Paperback and E-Book: Conducting Civil Rights Investigations in Government Programs and Activities

Friday, April 20th, 2018

This is the only book on the market that focuses on discrimination complaint investigations in a wide range of Federally-assisted, public-facing programs and activities! Reviews by State and local equal opportunity officials in 2017 include “I love your book,” and the book is “outstanding,” “easy to follow,” and “extremely useful.”

Paperback:
Cost: $19.99 per copy

Go to www.outskirtspress.com/civilrights; or

Email the author at seena@titleviconsulting.com, and you will receive an invoice by PayPal; or

Mail a check for $19.99 per book (plus $3.00 per book for shipping and handling in the United States) payable to Title VI Consulting at 107 S. West St., PMB 713, Alexandria, VA 22314.

Electronic book:
Cost: $9.99 per electronic copy

Available through Nook, or Kindle. For iPad and iTunes, you’ll find the book in the “Law Library.” Access the e-book through the publisher at http://www.outskirtspress.com/civilrights.

Reviewers describe the book as “the most thorough and the best product on the market,” “an eye-opening experience,” “an excellent reference book,” and “an invaluable resource for its target audience of professionals who must respond to complaints of discrimination.”

About the Book

In Civil Rights Investigations, Ms. Foster assembles a tremendous amount of information, presents it in an organized and easy-to-understand format, and delivers it to you along with practical and useful guidance. Whether you are a novice or expert, this book is a truly exceptional resource that takes you step-by-step through the investigative process. And, the teachings offered are applicable to any discrimination complaint investigation.

Starting with the basics of knowing whether you have a complaint and authority to investigate it, to navigating more in-depth concepts such as understanding the burdens of the parties, properly framing the issues of an investigation, interviewing witnesses, analyzing conflicting evidence, and writing final determinations, Civil Rights Investigations is with you each step of the way, providing insights, tips, and examples.

A wide array of discriminatory bases is explored, including race, color, national origin, gender, sexual harassment, religion, disability, political affiliation, citizenship, and age. And, the book contains sample interrogatories covering numerous adverse actions in government programs such as denial of access, denial of training, denial of services, denial of benefits, and denial of proposals or bids. Other sample interrogatories address adverse actions in the workplace, such as sexual harassment, reasonable accommodation, reasonable modification, retaliation, termination, non-selection, non-promotion, adverse performance appraisals, and damages. Finally, the book contains a jurisdiction checklist as well as templates for every stage of the investigation–from notifying the parties that you do not have jurisdiction to investigate a complaint or notifying the parties you have accepted a complaint for investigation to sample complaint investigation plans and a sample final determination on the merits of a complaint.

Civil Rights Investigations is packed with useful information, and it serves as a top-of-the-line resource for any public or private sector equal opportunity professional.

Civil Rights Investigations addresses several Federal civil rights statutes, including Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments of 2008, Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975. Its guidance, however, is useful in any civil rights discrimination investigation, and in developing and implementing preventative measures.

Reviews of the Book

Get this one-of-a-kind book judged by a panel of industry experts as a Finalist in the Business Reference category of The USA “Best Books 2011” Awards, sponsored by USA Book News. The book also received a Bronze Medal in the Government/Politics category (top 5% of over 3,000 entries) for the 2012 International Readers Favorite Book Awards. And, in October 2012, Ms. Foster was announced as a “Finalist of 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading,” presented by The Authors Show. In October 2013, Civil Rights Investigations was Amazon’s Featured Title of the Week.

Lisa Connor states: “You obviously have a passion for your subject matter–you present your findings in a very well-researched, thorough manner. … I have to say that you have put together an excellent piece”

Omoye Cooper of Albany, New York states: “I have worked in the field of Equal Opportunity for over 30 years and have attended numerous trainings on EO investigations. After attending Seena Foster’s Civil Rights Investigations workshop, I can say without a doubt that it is the most thorough and the best product on the market. Ms. Foster not only gives the technical information, but she also provides step by step guidelines and tools for effective implementation.”

“Ms. Foster’s workshops and book, “Civil Rights Investigations,” are professional resources that are highly recommended for all new and seasoned AA and EEO practitioners. Utilization of her materials will help new EEO professionals build a solid knowledge base that will make it possible to conduct defendable investigations; and for the veteran practitioners, it will take you to another level. Outstanding!”

Readers Favorite (5 out of 5 star ratings):

Brenda Ballard states: Discrimination is a very real problem in the work place but what can a person do? Seena K. Foster, author of “Civil Rights Investigations Under the Workforce Investment Act” leads the reader through the law, the process and the various scenarios of the subject. Citing law and providing examples of letters and check lists, information is outlined in concise and understandable terms. The subject matter is broken down into the simplest legal language possible considering the depth and complexity. Believable examples make sense of it all, guiding the reader step by step.

As anybody knows, legal reading can be dry and confusing. Admittedly, there were a few places I personally had to re-read but that would be attributed to my own lack of experience with the subject. I found the examples very useful and was able to utilize the bullet points and checklists to realize the meaning of it all. It was an eye-opening learning experience to read this book! I never realized how much is involved in filing such a suit, getting an investigation underway, working with both parties, and finding resolution. Businesses should consider having this book in their own library as a reference guide in their personnel department. This work could be used as a stand-alone in training sessions for employees and managements. The tremendous effort the author has put into “Civil Rights Investigations Under the Workforce Investment Act” is immediately evident. Nothing is left to question and, should there be any residual wonder, references can be looked up. Highly recommended! 5 out of 5 stars!

Lori M. states: Because I am currently taking a graduate-level Human Resources class in Employment Law, this book about civil rights investigations by Seena K. Foster interested me very much. This would make an excellent reference book for HR managers, lawyers, and anyone involved in employee or labor issues. It is very well-organized and provides just the right amount of information that you need on a number of different topics. Foster, who has a law degree, does a good job making the contents interesting, understandable, and easy to follow.

There are specific sections defining race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, citizenship, and disability issues in depth so that any reader can understand what constitutes the definition of discrimination against each. Additionally, she takes you through the steps of how to determine whether or not you have a discrimination complaint, a glossary of terms, jurisdiction, and filing the complaint. I like how Foster included easy-to-use checklists throughout the book to graphically depict what she has already told you in the text. It is a good way to help the reader grasp the information provided and double-check the details. This book talks about statutes of limitations and time frames within which a party has to file a complaint, notifying the parties of a complaint, jurisdictional issues, and even alternative dispute resolution topics such as arbitration or mediation. This book is a great toolkit for those interested in employment law matters dealing with civil rights investigations under the workforce investment act and Title VI-related laws. 5 out of 5 stars!

Alice D. states: “Civil Rights Investigations Under the Workforce Investment Act and Other Title VI Related Laws” is a book that really needed to be written and now it has been, thank goodness! Author Seena Foster has created a book that focuses on the treatment of individual and class action complaints. From the beginning where she asks the readers to decide whether they have a complaint and whether there is jurisdiction to investigate the complaint, Foster clearly establishes that those pursuing an issue such as discrimination must have merit; in other words, they must have a covered basis such as race, gender and nationality. She is quite clear in insisting that the person charged with the complaint must receive federal funds, and the CP, the charging party, must know how to organize a complaint, how to fill it with statistics and witness information. Then she shows the reader how exactly the CP and the respondent must reply in cases involving such things as employment, hostile work environ ment, and disability. She discusses sexual harassment, especially in the school environment, and writes about the use of mediation in helping parties come to a mutually acceptable solution. Do you think your civil rights have been violated at work? This is the book for you.

“Civil Rights Investigations” is not the type of book that people will grab off bookstore shelves, but they should. Author Seena Foster discusses, clearly and concisely, how the charging party and the respondent should respond in a variety of cases. Chapter after chapter deals with how to handle potential civil rights violations in the workplace and in federally funded programs and activities that have an impact on all of us. The author states that those filing the complaint must give details like why they were not hired, etc., and those who answer the claim must show the same clarity in their response. Specific and easy to read, this book should be in readers’ hands everywhere. 5 out of 5 stars!

Laurie Gray states: “Civil Rights Investigations under the Workforce Investment Act and Other Title VI-Related Laws from Intake to Final Determination” by Seena K. Foster offers guidance to professionals handling discrimination complaints for governmental agencies and employers that receive federal funding covered by the Workforce Investment Act of 1964. The book focuses on individual and class actions as opposed to third-party complaints, identifying and devoting a chapter to each protected class: race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, citizenship, age, political affiliation and belief. The chapters on sexual harassment, religion, and disability are most comprehensive. Foster provides specific examples, sample notices, and clear explanations on how to assess the merit of each complaint, properly frame the issues, develop a Complaint Investigation Plan, and investigate complaints without violating confidentiality policies. She further outlines the relevant burdens of proof and reliability of direct, circumstantial and comparative evidence. Though not for the average lay person, this book is an invaluable resource for its target audience of professionals who must respond to complaints of discrimination in a timely and consistent manner or risk losing their agencies’ federal funding. Ms. Foster clearly understands complex federal laws and regulations and concisely organizes the information in a user-friendly way, highlighting important deadlines, providing detailed questions to ask complaining parties and respondents, and encouraging professionals to seek competent legal advice when necessary. An introduction, conclusion and biography outlining the author’s credentials would be helpful additions to the next edition of the book. I do hope that Ms. Foster will update this informative guide as the laws continue to evolve. 5 out of 5 stars!

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.