Title VII, PDA, ADA suits settled, totaling more than $682K in damages
Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Title VII, PDA, ADA suits settled, totaling more than $682K in damages

By Lauren Bikoff, MLS

Employers in Delaware, Florida, New York, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C. have settled lawsuits with the EEOC.

The EEOC has announced settlements with unrelated employers in Delaware, Florida, New York, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C., for violations of the Title VII religious bias, sexual harassment, and pregnancy discrimination provisions, as well as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The five employers will pay a total of $682,586 in damages.

Forced to work on Sabbath. To settle a Title VII religious bias lawsuit brought by the federal agency, Century Park Associates, LLC, dba Garden Plaza at Greenbriar Cove, has agreed to pay $92,586 in damages. According to the suit, Century required two employees working at a senior and assisted living community in Ooltewah, Tennessee, to work on their Sabbath in violation of their religious beliefs. The two employees, members of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, observe the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Although the employees offered to work on Sundays, Century told the employees they had to agree to work on Saturdays as part of a new work schedule. When the two employees refused to work on Saturdays due to their religious beliefs, Century asked them to resign, and they complied.

Century entered into a two-year consent decree requiring the company to train its employees, including HR and management personnel, on Title VII requirements of Title VII. Century also agreed to report complaints of religious discrimination and requests for religious accommodations to the EEOC and permit the agency to monitor compliance with the decree.

The EEOC brought its lawsuit in the Eastern District of Tennessee, Southern Division; the case is No. 1:17-cv-00231.

Sexual harassment suit settled. 82-10 Baxter Ave. Food Corp., dba Foodtown, will pay $285,000 to settle a Title VII sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the federal agency. According to the lawsuit, a department manager of the Elmhurst, New York, supermarket physically and verbally sexually harassed two female workers under his supervision at the facility, then fired them because they resisted his advances. The harassment included comments about their appearance, propositions for sex, forced kissing, and other unwanted touching.

In addition to the monetary relief, the company will adopt new policies and procedures, in both English and Spanish, to prevent and report sexual harassment and will train managers and staff on identifying and preventing sexual harassment and retaliation. Foodtown also will investigate any complaints of sexual harassment and provide copies of its investigations to the EEOC. The EEOC will monitor the company’s compliance with these obligations for the next three years.

The EEOC filed its lawsuit in the Eastern District of New York; the case is No. 18-cv-05100.

Pregnant employee forced to take unpaid leave. U.S. military contractors Day & Zimmermann Group, Inc., and Sunrise Beach Corporation, dba M2 Services Corporation, have agreed to pay $125,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. The EEOC charged that the companies violated Title VII and the PDA by forcing a pregnant employee to take an unpaid leave of absence upon learning that she was pregnant, and ultimately firing her because of her pregnancy.

According to the lawsuit, the M2 employee was an aircraft worker cleaner, responsible for cleaning aircraft parts. After an employee advised M2 that she was pregnant, M2 placed her on involuntary and unpaid leave, claiming that she needed to obtain medical authorization before returning to work. Even after her medical provider cleared her, M2 refused to allow her to return to work and ultimately fired her, the federal agency said.

In addition to settlement, M2 is required to create and implement a pregnancy nondiscrimination policy and annual mandatory training for all managers and staff by a subject matter expert approved by the agency. Both the policy and training will address discrimination based on unreasonable notions, assumptions and/or stereotypes about pregnant women. M2 must also post a notice referencing this lawsuit and consent decree, advising employees of their rights. Additionally, M2 will provide a job reference for the former employee.

The EEOC filed its lawsuit in the Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division; the case is No. 3:19-cv-127-J39-MCR.

No reasonable accommodation for deaf employees. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, will pay $100,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC. The suit charged that the retailer violated the ADA by refusing to provide communications accommodations, such as access to sign language interpreters and closed-captioning training videos, to two deaf employees who worked at a store in Washington, D.C.

The two-year consent decree enjoins the Wal-Mart store from violating the ADA, including engaging in unlawful retaliation. The store also will revise its reasonable accommodations management guidelines; provide live training to management employees on the ADA’s requirements; address issues related to deaf or hard-of-hearing persons; and provide training to all nonmanagement employees on the ADA and the process for requesting a reasonable accommodation. Finally, the store will post a notice about the settlement and report to the EEOC about its compliance with the consent decree.

The EEOC brought its suit in the District of Columbia; the case is No. 1:18-cv-2799.

Employee fired for perceived disability. SoftPro, a Delaware software company, will pay $80,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the federal agency. According to the suit, a SoftPro employee had a record of an opiate addiction and had participated in physician-supervised medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for the addiction since 2009. In 2017, the employee took leave from SoftPro to voluntarily admit himself to an inpatient treatment facility to eliminate the need for MAT. After successfully completing the program and returning to work, the employee was fired after SoftPro learned about his participation in the treatment program. The EEOC charged that SoftPro violated the ADA because it perceived the employee as disabled.

In addition to the monetary relief, SoftPro must revise, implement and distribute personnel policies to state that the company does not exclude employees based on their participation in a MAT program. The company also must provide annual training to its HR team, managers, supervisors, and employees; post a notice to employees relating to the settlement; and report to the EEOC all negative employment actions the company takes against employees who have a record of substance abuse disorder or who are currently participating in, or have successfully completed, a drug rehabilitation program.

The EEOC filed its suit in the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division; the case is No. 5:18-cv-00463.

Companies: Century Park Associates, LLC; Garden Plaza at Greenbriar Cove; 82-10 Baxter Ave. Food Corp.; Foodtown; Day & Zimmermann Group, Inc.; Sunrise Beach Corporation; M2 Services Corporation; Wal-Mart Stores East, LP; SoftPro

News: AgencyNews Discharge Discrimination DisabilityDiscrimination PregnancyDiscrimination ReligiousDiscrimination SexDiscrimination SexualHarassment Retaliation

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