$725K will go to workers allegedly affected by age, disability, race, and retaliation discrimination
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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

$725K will go to workers allegedly affected by age, disability, race, and retaliation discrimination

By Pamela Wolf, J.D.

A dental practice, knife manufacturer, staffing company, management and maintenance services company, temporary employment agency, and commercial real estate company settled ongoing litigation; four new suits were also filed.

As the EEOC was ending the third quarter of its fiscal year and moving into the fourth, it separately announced the settlement of several lawsuits leveling charges of age, disability, race, and retaliation discrimination, recovering $725,400 in monetary relief for affected workers. The federal antidiscrimination agency also filed several new lawsuits alleging pregnancy discrimination, retaliation, and sexual harassment.

Settlements

Fired older workers, hired younger ones. Capital City Dental Care will pay $100,000 and furnish other relief to settle allegations that it violated the ADEA when, after a new owner purchased the dental practice headquartered in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, suburb of Camp Hill, the employer fired eight out of nine dental hygienists older than 40, based on their ages. The dental practice later replaced the older hygienists with 14 employees, 13 of whom were under age 40, according to the EEOC.

In addition to providing lost wages and other monetary relief, the four-year consent decree resolving the suit enjoins Capital City Dental Care from engaging in age discrimination and retaliation. The dental practice also must implement an updated policy against discrimination, with an emphasis on preventing age discrimination, and a complaint procedure; provide training on the ADEA; post a notice of employee rights under the ADEA; and report to the EEOC on its compliance with the consent decree.

The EEOC filed its lawsuit in the Middle District of Pennsylvania; the case is No. 1:19-cv-00804-SHR.

Fired after disclosing disability. Busse Combat Knife Company will pay $20,900 in back pay and non-economic damages to settle the EEOC’s claim that the Wauseon, Ohio, knife manufacturer violated the ADA by discharging a worker after he revealed a disability. The employee left work early when he experienced a problem related to his disability. After he notified his supervisor of the problem, the owner of the company allegedly asked him why he had not disclosed his disability at hiring and ordered him to provide a medical note clearing him to work. The employee submitted the note, but the employer then fired him because of his disability, the EEOC said.

In addition to the monetary relief, the one-year consent decree settling the litigation requires Busse to review and potentially revise its discrimination policies and train the owner and supervisor on ADA requirements.

The EEOC brought its lawsuit in the Northern District of Ohio in Toledo; the case is No. 3:18-cv-00144.

Retaliatory arbitration provision. Under a voluntary conciliation agreement, OneSource Staffing, LLC, will modify its arbitration policy to resolve two discrimination charges alleging that the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania-based staffing firm violated the ADA when, as a condition of employment, it required workers to execute a mandatory arbitration agreement for disputes arising out of employment, including any arising under antidiscrimination laws enforced by the EEOC. The federal agency determined that the staffing company sought to enforce the agreement to prohibit employees from filing discrimination charges with the EEOC, which amounts to unlawful retaliation and interference with an individual’s exercise of rights under the ADA.

OneSource Staffing denied that it engaged in unlawful conduct but agreed to a voluntary resolution of the charges. The company agree to not engage in employment discrimination or retaliation in the future, and to modify its arbitration policy and notify employees that the arbitration agreement does not prohibit an employee from filing a charge with the EEOC, having the case investigated by the EEOC, or from participating in an EEOC investigation. The company also will not raise the arbitration agreement as a defense to any charge filed with the EEOC, will post a notice about the voluntary settlement, and will be subject to EEOC monitoring of its compliance with the voluntary settlement for one year.

Orientation accommodation for deaf employee. Powerlink Facilities Management Services has agreed to pay $25,000 and provide other relief to settle allegations that the Michigan-based management and maintenance services company violated the ADA by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation to a deaf employee. The company uses training videos during its employee orientation. Instead of providing the employee with an accommodation to participate in the orientation, Powerlink purportedly claimed she could not complete the process because its videos did not have closed-captioning for the hearing-impaired. The employee was unable to complete the orientation and start work for about two months, the EEOC said.

In addition to the monetary relief, the two-and-a-half-year consent decree settling the suit provides for injunctive relief, training on the ADA, and reporting to the EEOC.

Work assignment discrimination against blacks, females. Personnel Staffing Group, LLC, dba Most Valuable Personnel, and MVP Workforce, LLC, will pay $568,500 to resolve claims that it violated Title VII when the temporary employment agencies discriminated against black and female applicants and employees by refusing to send them on work assignments or by sending them for fewer work hours. The EEOC’s lawsuit charges that the companies did so either on their own initiative or to honor the discriminatory requests of clients, which did not want black workers or sought only men for certain assignments.

Under the two-and-a-half-year consent decree, MVP Workforce will adopt a process to identify qualified applicants or employees for temporary work assignments; inform applicants and employees how to complain of discrimination; create and maintain records of all applicant information; provide periodic reports to EEOC about its applicants, referrals, and any sex or race discrimination complaints; and train employees who are involved in the hiring and assignment process about Title VII. Personnel Staffing Group, LLC, which is not currently doing business in Illinois, must implement the same measures if it resumes operations in Illinois.

The EEOC brought its lawsuit in the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago; the case is No. 1:20-cv-03683. The monetary relief will also resolve similar claims of race and sex discrimination brought in related lawsuits in the Northern District of Illinois: Nos. 16 C 11282; 16 C 11086; and 18 C 03718.

Fired after reporting racially discriminatory language. North Carolina, commercial real estate company George W. Morosani and Associates, LLC, will pay $11,000 and provide other relief to settle allegations that it violated Title VII when it retaliated against a maintenance worker who complained to a managing member of the company about his supervisor’s use of language believed to be racially discriminatory. Within several days of the complaint, the company fired the maintenance helper in retaliation for his complaint, according to the EEOC.

In addition to the monetary relief, the two-year consent decree settling the suit requires George W. Morosani and Associates to adopt an antidiscrimination policy and provide training for all managers, supervisors, and employees on Title VII and its prohibition against retaliation in the workplace. The employer also must provide periodic reports to the EEOC on employee discrimination complaints and any adverse actions that employees experience.

The EEOC brought its lawsuit in the Western District of North Carolina, Asheville Division; the case is No. 1:19-cv-00203-MR-WCM.

New lawsuits

Pregnancy discrimination, retaliation. NICE Systems, Inc., which provides software for customer experience, regulatory compliance, and financial crime prevention, violated Title VII by paying an employee less, retaliating against her, and forcing her to resign because of her pregnancy, the EEOC contends in a new lawsuit. Purportedly, after the employee informed her supervisor that she was pregnant, he stopped assigning her sales leads and denied her commission payments.

When the employee complained, NICE Systems allegedly retaliated against her and asked her to "stop being so emotional." Upon her return from pregnancy leave, her lucrative sales territory was taken away from her and she was reassigned a new sales territory with little-to-no existing clients for her sales product. The company did nothing to address her complaints and she was thus forced to resign, according to the federal agency.

The EEOC filed its lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida; the case is No. 9:20-cv-81021.

Sexually inappropriate touching by company VP. A new EEOC lawsuit alleges that Pediatric Health Care Alliance violated Title VII when the Tampa-based pediatric medical practice retaliated against a female registered nurse for reporting that a doctor, who was also a company vice president, inappropriately touched her. The employer purportedly transferred her to another location where her work conditions were so intolerable that she was forced to resign.

Allegedly, the male doctor inappropriately touched the nurse twice. She reported the incidents to her supervisor, who agreed the behavior was inappropriate, and directed her to go to HR. In retaliation for reporting these incidents, the employer transferred the employee to a different location, where many of her job duties as a nurse were taken away and her pay was reduced, and thus she was forced to resign, the EEOC said.

The EEOC brought its lawsuit in the Middle District of Florida; the case is No. 8:20-cv-01428.

Sexual harassment, retaliation against only female welder. Moore & Morford, Inc., violated Title VII by subjecting a female welder to sexual harassment as well as retaliation when she reported the harassment and filed an EEOC charge, according to a new lawsuit. The South Greenburg, Pennsylvania, steel manufacturing company allegedly subjected its only female welder to a hostile work environment because of her sex when male employees repeatedly called her by sexist epithets and made offensive hand gestures toward her. Coworkers also purportedly dirtied her bathroom and personal belongings and engaged in other sexually offensive and threatening conduct.

The company’s managers and owners knew about the sexual harassment and failed to stop it, according to the EEOC. After the female welder complained about the harassment, her foreman repeatedly yelled at her, increased surveillance of her, denied her tools and equipment that she needed to do her job, forced her to clean up the bathroom that her coworkers had dirtied, and gave her an unfavorable reassignment. Four days after telling the owners that she had contacted the EEOC and was filing a charge of discrimination against the company, they fired her, the federal agency contends.

The EEOC filed suit in the Western District of Pennsylvania; the case is No. 2:20-cv-00892.

GM created sexually hostile environment. The EEOC contends that James Cars of Hamburg, LLC, dba James Mitsubishi Hamburg, and its parent company James Auto Management LLC, violated Title VII by subjecting two female employees to a sexually hostile work environment. Allegedly, the general manager of the Hamburg dealership and two other dealerships owned by the parent company in Rome and Greece, New York, made numerous unwelcome sexual advances and comments to two female employees, including repeatedly staring at and making comments about their bodies and asking them to join him in his hotel room. Further, the GM allegedly mimed sex acts in front of a female employee and told her that he imagined waking up next to her in bed. He also purportedly engaged in inappropriate physical contact with the female employees, including giving unwelcome massages.

The suit alleges that the GM’s behavior was well-known throughout the dealership, including by the VP of HR, who witnessed and encouraged the harassment. The EEOC said that one female employee was forced to quit because James Mitsubishi Hamburg took no action to stop the harassment.

The EEOC brought its lawsuit in the Western District of New York, Buffalo Division; the case is No. 1:20-cv-00780.

Companies: Capital City Dental Care; Michael A. Sisk, DDS, LLC; Busse Combat Knife Company; OneSource Staffing, LLC; Powerlink Facilities Management Services; Personnel Staffing Group, LLC; Most Valuable Personnel; MVP Workforce, LLC; George W. Morosani and Associates, LLC; NICE Systems, Inc.; Pediatric Health Care Alliance; Moore & Morford; James Cars of Hamburg, LLC; James Mitsubishi Hamburg; James Auto Management LLC

News: AgencyNews Discharge Discrimination AgeDiscrimination Arbitration DisabilityDiscrimination SexDiscrimination SexualHarassment RaceDiscrimination Retaliation GCNNews

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