EEOC Resolutions Announced in the Second Quarter

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced settlements or verdicts of 27 discrimination cases during the second quarter of 2013.  As usual, I will highlight what I found most interesting and summarize the settlement data on all cases.

Family Medical History Questions Violated G.I.N.A.

With her temporary employment period ending, Rhonda Jones applied for a permanent job, and the employer sent her to its contract doctor for a medical exam.  The questionnaire asked Rhonda about the existence of certain diseases and conditions in her family, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and “mental disorders.”  The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) “prohibits requesting family medical history,” according to the EEOC.

The employer’s doctor concluded that Rhonda also needed to be checked for carpal tunnel by her doctor.  Rhonda’s own doctor cleared her, but the company refused to hire her.  The EEOC charged the employer with violating GINA plus disability discrimination because it regarded Rhonda as having a disability (carpal tunnel syndrome).  Employer paid $50,000 to settle the claim.

Discrimination based on “Intellectual Disabilities”

Two cases highlight EEOC’s protection of those with “intellectual disabilities.”

In the first, new management of a fast-food restaurant demoted a floor supervisor to a janitorial position and cut his hours, which caused him to resign.  The employer paid $100,000 to the former employee and now must follow a three-year consent decree requiring it to hire an equal employment opportunity monitor, develop policies, and have a central tracking system for its 20+ restaurants.   It seams the future cost of the settlement will exceed the initial $100,000 settlement.

The second case sounds like a bad movie justifying the jury verdict of $240 million dollars.

Henry’s Turkey Service took advantage of 32 men with intellectual disabilities for 20 years. The employer verbally and physically harassed the men, restricted their freedom of movement, required the to live in disgusting living situations, and did not provide adequate medical care.  Enlightened employers know better than to call workers “retarded,” use handcuffs, or force workers to carry heavy weights as punishment.  This employer, however, figuratively emasculated the men who eviscerated their turkeys.

Affirmative Action as Remedy to Gender Discrimination

A Cleveland manufacturer must offer no fewer that 40 jobs to women and pay $700,000 as part of a consent decree settling a class action lawsuit.  EEOC alleged the employer discriminated in hiring, promotion and tolerated workplace harassment.  The company failed to comply with recordkeeping requirements, too.

Other Resolutions

Although I only mention the dollar amounts, the settlements typically include other provisions, including training, posting, and monitoring.

Morning Sickness – Pregnancy, Disability & Retaliation.   Employer denied a pregnant employee’s request to move closer to restroom for severe nausea and vomiting.  Management also made negative comments.  Employer failed to engage in interactive process.  When her husband complained, the company demoted and eventually terminated him.  Employer paid $70,000.  In a separate case, the employer demanded medical releases from a pregnant employee, suspending her until it received the releases.  It paid $42,000 to settle.

$20 Million verdict (before applying Title VII caps) to eight women for sexual harassment.  Sexual propositions, physical touching, sexual banter were common.  The employer fired a manager for who sought to address the problems.  Jurors do not like egregious facts; Employers need to settle those cases.

Employees not need to call in from the hospital.  Employer knew about employee’s condition and that he was hospitalized.  Nevertheless, it fired him for failing to call in every day.  It paid $50,000 and must follow a consent decree for 5 years.

Race Discrimination.  Employer’s anti-harassment policy was “unreasonable as a matter of law” because it lacked a way to bypass the perpetrator.  The employer paid three former employees a total of $230,000 for enduring the N-word and other such comments and conduct.  A different employer paid $150,000 to an African-American employee who endured slurs and retaliation after he reported it.

National Origin Discrimination.  One employer paid $250,000 to settle the claim that it paid Hispanics less than non-Hispanics.  Another employer paid $360,000 because it harassed and fired Hispanic employees.

Age Discrimination.  Employer RIFed the older guys, ages 48, 51 and 62.  It paid $210,000. Another employer paid $90,000 because it refused union referrals of journeyman linemen, ages 72 and 61, but took younger referrals.

Other Disability Discrimination Settlements.  

The following  table shows number of employees involved, but it does not indicate conditions imposed by consent decrees.

Disability

Amount

#
Stroke-like, temporary facial harassment. Terminated.

$40,000

1

Bipolar disorder.  Refused to reemploy following a manic episode, despite medical clearance.

$100,000

1

Bank terminated employees at the end of their medical leaves.  It did not offer any accommodations.

$400,000

14

Chronic back pain with radiculopathy down legs. Employer refused to return employee to work or consider accommodations.

46,000

1

 Other Sex Discrimination Resolutions.   

Summary

Amount

#
Employer did not promote woman and lied to her.  It told her they were not going to fill the position, but told a male that they would.  $475,000 of verdict was for punitive damages.

$500,000

1

Three temporary workers suffered vulgar sexual remarks and unwanted touching. Retaliation against them and a man who complained.  $850,000 of verdict was for punitive damages.

$1.5M

4

Women employees of prison management company suffered verbal and physical harassment. Company entered into consent decree during trial.

$140,000

2

Equal Pay Act. Company did not pay woman same salary as male predecessor.

$65,000

1

Supervisor demanded sexual favors.  Company fired or forced out complaining co-workers.

$650,000

5

Honey Baked Ham terminated the woman manager who was harassed and complained on behalf of herself and others.

$360,000

>1

Supervisor verbally abused seasonal farm worker, sought sex, and encouraged domestic violence against her by her husband.

$150,000

1

Crude comments, unwanted physical contact toward a home health care worker

$16,000

1

Vulger comments, sexually explicit pictures in workplace

$15,000

1

Jeff Merrick, Employment Law Mediator
Copyright 2013

Jeff Merrick