EEOC Resolutions Announced during First Quarter

eeocA couple of Walmart cases plus another GINA case were among the resolutions announced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) during the first quarter of 2014.  As usual, I will highlight what I found most interesting and summarize the settlement data on most of the other cases.

Qualified to Volunteer;  Not qualified for Paid work.

The hospital used a volunteer with cerebral palsy in the child care center.  But, it refused to hire her for a paid position because of its fear that her disability meant she could not care for children safely.  Stereotypes cannot ground decisions on who is qualified for the job. Hospital paid $75,000.

I’ll get your kids, too!

EEOC charged Walmart with refusing to hire the children of a woman who had filed a sex discrimination charge.  Mom had a retaliation claim, for which Walmart paid $87,500.

Walmart punishes the victim.

Intellectually disabled, Jamie Wells put up with sexual harassment from a co-worker for several years.  Managers knew about it.  The harassment stopped only when Walmart fired Jamie after her formal complaint.  Walmart paid $363,419, which constituted back pay plus $295,000 of the $300,000 cap on compensatory damages.

Family history questions violate GINA.  Employer nursing and rehab center offered jobs contingent on passing a physical.  Asking applicants about family history violated the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.  138 applicants are now beneficiaries of a $110,400 settlement fund.

If not Bawdy, then Blackballed by JPMorgan Chase

Some of the women did not join in the “fun.”  The boring female mortgage bankers who not embrace the sexually charged behavior and comments, including from supervisory staff, did not get as many lucrative sales calls, training opportunities and other benefits of employment as the fun crowd, they alleged

EEOC called it a “sexist and uncivil atmosphere” in its class action sex discrimination lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase.  The employer must pay $1,450,000 split among 16 women.  Plus, the consent decree requires the employer to better retain data on call assignments so there’s proof to support or defeat future claims.

Void Settlement Agreements

Surprise!

When employee claimed federal agency breached the settlement agreement, EEOC voided the agreement and reinstated the charge of discrimination. The agreement to meet in two months to review progress on cross training was an agreement to negotiate. The agreement to “continue” with plans for cross training lacked consideration.

That was just one of a few agreements declared void by the EEOC and reported in its digest of decisions for Summer 2013.  (Yes, that’s the latest edition.)

In another case, the employer agreed to “open communication” with, abide by a contract, and maintain fair and equal treatment for all employees.  EEOC held that agreeing to comply with existing laws, rule and policies did not constitute consideration sufficient to support the settlement of the employment claim.  EEOC reinstated the complaint.

Now, on to the other settlements reported last quarter. Most settlements included other terms, such as training, posting legal duties, etc.

Sexual Harassment / Retaliation Settlements
Male orchard supervisor barraged male workers with sexual and threatening comments and physical contact.  Caressed faces, backs and buttocks.

$85,000

Verbal abuse, taunting gestures of a sexual nature, and perpetrator exposed himself in same-sex harassment case

$125,000

Office administrator reported sexually harassing calls from her supervisor.  Three days later, company escorted her out the door, alleging 6 reasons for termination.  Company settled retaliation suit.

$150,000

Plant manager found support for complaint of sexual harassment of subordinate employee.  Manager fired harasser.  Company reinstated harasser and fired manager.

$75,000

Two related sexual harassment claims led to payment for a group of current and former employees of a hospital.

$65,000

Store manager harassed employees with comments and request for sexual favors.  Call to corporate hotline and complaint to assistant manager did not cure problem.

$27,500

Co-owner of restaurant frequently made offensive comments of crude or sexual nature in presence of plaintiff.  He also touched workers in sexual manner.  Severe and pervasive harassment caused plaintiff to quit, EEOC alleged.

$20,000

Disability Discrimination Settlements
Fired for not using medical leave form. Employer terminated nurse assistant because she submitted a doctor’s note, not the official employer’s form.

$25,000

Nursing home fired the cook for failing to report to work, despite doctor’s note advising employer that she needed breast cancer surgery and time to recover.

$50,000

Hospital reversed its decision to accommodate general practice doctor who has epilepsy by allowing her to limit her workday to 89 hours.  EEOC alleged termination for disability.

$215,000

Manufacturer fired assembler after two unrelated incidents required ambulance trips to the hospital.  EEOC alleged employer regarded her as having a disability.

$25,000

Racial Discrimination / Retaliation Resolutions
African-American employee complained about racially offensive graffiti.  Co-workers threatened employee with death if he complained more.

$50,000

Restaurant fired African-American worker three weeks after he complained about racially offensive displays.  Jury awarded $15,000 for emotional damages.  Judge awarded $41,000 back pay.

$56,000

Alabama construction company subjected three African-American employees to racial slurs.  Fired them when they complained.

$100,000

Equal Pay Settlements    Hotel paid women get services employees less than men.  Three class representatives shared settlement

$75,800

Public School paid certified woman art teacher $40,000 in her fifth year.  An uncertified male with no teaching experience got $44,000

$125,000

Pregnancy Discrimination cases

$40,000

$20,000

 Copyright, 2014, Jeff Merrick, Merrick Mediation