Companies resolve alleged Title VII, ADA, PDA violations
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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Companies resolve alleged Title VII, ADA, PDA violations

By Lauren Bikoff, MLS

Six unrelated companies will pay at least $434,800 to settle EEOC lawsuits.

The EEOC separately announced settlements with six unrelated employers in California, Hawaii, Georgia, and Ohio for alleged violations of Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Together these companies will pay at least $434,800 to resolve those allegations.

Repeated sexual harassment. Carmel, California-based JCFB, Inc., dba Porta Bella Restaurant and Mediterranean Restaurant, has agreed to pay $175,000 to two former employees to settle a Title VII sexual harassment lawsuit filed on behalf of female and male kitchen staff. JCFB also is required to provide anti-harassment training to all employees at both restaurants and must hire an external consultant to monitor and investigate any future reports of a hostile work environment.

The EEOC’s lawsuit alleged that a male line cook at Porta Bella Restaurant suffered repeated inappropriate grabbing of his private parts by the kitchen manager, cook, and chef. When he reported the conduct to Porta Bella's owners, they dismissed the behavior and said, "They only play." Afterwards, the chef became confrontational, and yelled and hit the line cook, forcing him to quit. The EEOC alleged that the restaurant failed to adequately investigate or discipline the harassers.

The EEOC also sued on behalf of a female dishwasher employed at Mediterranean Restaurant who endured daily sexual comments and occasional unwanted physical touching by the same kitchen manager that harassed the Porta Bella line cook. Although she informed another manager of the harassment, the sexual comments continued.

The EEOC brought its lawsuit in the Northern District of California, San Jose Division; the case is No. 5:19-CV-0052.

Intermittent leave request declined. Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA) has agreed to pay $180,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC. The lawsuit alleged that the health insurance company violated the ADA when it decided not to allow intermittent leave as a possible accommodation for employees with disabilities in its customer relations department. HMSA also failed to engage in the interactive process with its employees to determine if there were other accommodations available for them. The above-mentioned practices forced employees to either work without an accommodation or resign, according to the EEOC.

In addition, HMSA has agreed to review and revise its policies and procedures regarding compliance with the ADA and provide training in employment discrimination law such as disability discrimination, the interactive process, and reasonable accommodation. The company also has agreed to have a centralized accommodation unit to maintain and track all disability accommodation requests and disability discrimination complaints, and ensure appropriate record keeping, reporting, and monitoring.

The EEOC filed its lawsuit in the District of Hawaii; the case is No. CV-18-00253-LEK-WRP.

Failed to hire deaf applicant due to disability. Cutter Mazda of Honolulu, Hawaii, has agreed to pay $42,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. According to the EEOC, Cutter Mazda violated the ADA when it failed to hire a deaf applicant due to his disability.

The car dealership has also agreed to provide enhanced ADA training to its employees, and will better train its human resources and supervisory/managerial staff on how to better assess an applicant with a disability during the interview or hiring process.

The EEOC filed its lawsuit in the District of Hawaii; the case is No. 1:17-cv-00371.

Employee discharged due to mental disabilities. Cumming, Georgia-based Heritage Charity Auction & Awards, Inc., a manufacturer and seller of display cases for memorabilia and auction company, will pay $19,000 to settle a disability discrimination suit filed by the federal agency. The lawsuit alleged that the company violated the ADA when it fired an employee after she disclosed that she has mental disabilities and might need an accommodation.

The EEOC said that the employee’s mental disabilities did not affect her ability to perform her job. Once the employee stated that she might need an accommodation, Heritage purportedly made her leave work immediately and told her it needed documentation from a counselor or a doctor describing her mental health issues. However, when the employee attempted to satisfy this request, the company refused to engage in the interactive process required by the ADA and, instead, it filled the employee’s position and discharged her, according to the EEOC.

Heritage also is required to adopt and implement a written policy on the ADA and a procedure for requesting reasonable accommodations. The company will in addition conduct training on disability discrimination for its employees, post EEO notices, and provide periodic reports to the EEOC.

The EEOC brought its lawsuit in the Northern District of Georgia, Gainesville Division; the case is No. 2:20-cv-00004-RWS-JCF.

Pregnancy discrimination suit settled. Maurizio Trattoria Italiana LLC, a fine-dining Italian restaurant in Encinitas, California, has agreed to pay $18,800 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the restaurant violated the PDA by reducing a female employee’s hours after being notified of her pregnancy, which resulted in substantially less pay. The agency further contends that the restaurant refused to return the employee to her server position after she gave birth and fired her instead.

In addition, Maurizio Trattoria Italiana has agreed to review and revise its policies and procedures related to Title VII and PDA compliance. Additionally, the company has agreed to provide training in employment discrimination laws, including those against pregnancy discrimination, and employees' rights to employment upon return of a leave taken due to pregnancy, childbirth and/or related medical conditions.

The EEOC filed its law suit in the Southern District of California; the case is No. 18-cv-338-MMA (BLM).

Racial harassment class case resolved. Lowellville, Ohio-based Falcon Foundry Company has agreed to resolve a racial harassment class case that filed by the Youngstown Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the EEOC.

After the NAACP filed the charge with the EEOC, the agency’s investigation found that one of Falcon Foundry Company’s top officials subjected employees to derogatory racial comments and that there was a noose hanging in the facility. The EEOC also found that minority employees were disciplined for violating company policies while white employees who violated the same policies were not disciplined. On these bases, the EEOC found that a class of individuals were harassed and discriminated against—in violation of Title VII—because of their race, black; their national origin, Hispanic; or their association with a black or Hispanic employee.

Falcon Foundry Company has conducted an internal investigation, trained its employees, and terminated the company official to address the claims filed against it. In addition, the company, along with the EEOC and NAACP, has entered into an agreement which states that Falcon Foundry will provide substantial monetary relief to identified victims, and will hold managers and supervisors accountable for immediately addressing discrimination in the workplace and provide ongoing training to all employees.

Companies: JCFB, Inc.; Porta Bella Restaurant; Mediterranean Restaurant; Hawaii Medical Service Association; Cutter Mazda; Heritage Charity Auction & Awards, Inc.; Maurizio Trattoria Italiana LLC; Falcon Foundry Company

News: AgencyNews Discrimination ClassActions DisabilityDiscrimination NationalOrigin PayDiscrimination PregnancyDiscrimination RaceDiscrimination SexDiscrimination SexualHarassment Retaliation

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