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EEOC Litigation Activity – October 2018

2018-10-11

The following summarizes the EEOC litigation activity for October 2018.  EEOC filed 11 lawsuits and settled three during the month.  Disability and sexual harassment discrimination were the most prevalent type of discrimination with four disability lawsuits and two disability settlements.  EEOC also filed three suits based on harassment and settled one based on sexual and age-related harassment and retaliation.  The #MeToo movement seems to be triggering more discrimination charges and subsequent settlements, according to Acting Director Victoria Lipnic.

Summary of lawsuit by type

Age

  • Michigan Department of Health and Human Services [10/2/18] EEOC alleges that Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital refused to hire an older applicant and constructively discharged an older employee because of their ages.  The 31-year old clinical services director refused to hire the 56-year old applicant who was unanimously recommended by an interview panel to be hired as a clinical social worker.  When the same director began to supervise a 60-year old worker, he gave her the least desirable assignments, scrutinized her work closer than her colleagues and wrote her up. 
Disability
  • Appalachian Wood Products, Inc. [10/9/18] EEOC alleges that the company subjected applicants to unlawful medical inquiries and refused to hire qualified applicants based on their disability or medical treatment.  Since October 2016, the company barred job applicants from certain positions if they were taking prescribed medications for drug addiction treatment without evaluating whether such medications affected their ability to perform the job safely.
  • Highlands of Memphis [10/3/18] Current or former owners, operators and/or managers of a nursing home were sued after they fired an employee because of her disability.  A nighttime weekend nurse supervisor suffered a heart attack and kept in communication during her hospital stay.  After requesting an accommodation of an additional week off, she was fired.
  • JBS Carriers [10/1/18] – EEOC alleges that the trucking firm used pre-employment screening procedures that improperly screened out qualified truck driving applicants on the basis of disability.  A women applicant was required to complete an ErgoMed screening which concluded that she had shoulder issues.  The applicant said that she did not have shoulder issues and explained that they were sore from carrying heavy luggage.  ErgoMed prevented her from completing the physical abilities testing that was required by JBS Carriers and recommended not hiring her.  JBS accepted the recommendation.
  • Family Dollar of Michigan [10/1/18] – EEOC alleges that the company failed to employ a man because of his disability.  The applicant has left-sided paralysis and wears a brace on his left arm.  After his interview, he was offered the position but was told that he could not start work until a few weeks later.   He was never put on the schedule and the company continued to hire other non-disabled individuals to work as customer services representatives for the same store. 
Pregnancy
  • Rainbow USA [10/1/18] – EEOC alleges that the apparel chain terminated a junior assistant manager upon becoming aware of her pregnancy.   Initially, after learning of her pregnancy-related restrictions, Rainbow suspended her indefinitely and then two days after the suspension, terminated her. 
Race
  • Prewitt Enterprises and Desoto Marine [10/3/18] EEOC alleges that Mississippi Construction and Salvage companies’ managers and supervisors continuously subjected black employees to racially hostile work environment.  African-American employees were called “n- - - r,” “monkey,” “boy,” “mule,” etc.  Managers made demeaning racial references to skin color and hair texture and ethnic references to slavery, plantations, lynching and their African ancestry. 
Religion
  • Saint Thomas Health [10/2/18] EEOC alleges that TouchPoint Support Services terminated an employee who refused to take a flu shot because of their religious belief.  In 2013 and 2014, TouchPoint allowed the employee to wear a protective mask instead of having the flu shot; however, in 2015 they refused to provide an accommodation.
Sexed Based Pay
  • Interim Healthcare of Wyoming [10/1/18] – EEOC alleges that female nurses were paid lower wages than a significantly less experienced male counterpart because of sex.   The female nurses were performing substantially equal work under similar working conditions.  Despite several complaints about pay disparity from the female nurses, Interim failed to take any corrective action. 
Sexual Harassment
  • Magneti Marelli [10/3/18] EEOC alleges that female assembly line workers were repeatedly subjected to unwelcome sexual advances, comments and touching by their line assembly supervisor.  The supervisor repeatedly propositioned his female subordinates, messaged their necks and backs, made inappropriate comments about their bodies, sang sexually explicit songs, and asked that they call him “Big Daddy.”
  • Koelsch Senior Communities [10/2/18] – EEOC alleges that the company allowed a female supervisor to sexually harass a female employee.  The supervisor made comments about the employee’s clothing and appearance; made a request to be friends on Facebook; repeatedly asked for foot messages; and discussed the supervisor’s interest in extramarital affairs and sexual bondage.  In one incident the supervisor stood close behind her and expressed a desire to rub her buttocks.  When the employee complained, Koelsch failed to investigate properly and quickly sided with the supervisor.
  • Daisy Dukes and Boots Saloon [10/2/18] – EEOC alleges that the country western dance bar and restaurant subjected females employees to a sexually hostile work environment, forcing them to resign.  A male assistant manager groped two employees, slapping and grabbing their buttocks and propositioned them for sex.  He also reduced one of the employee’s hours after she complained.  She eventually quit her job because of the reduction in hours and failure of the company to stop the harassment. 
Summary of settlements by type

Disability
  • Triton Management Services [10/10/18] agrees to pay $110,000, revise policies, conduct training and sign a three-year consent decree to resolve a disability lawsuit. An employee needing medical attention was denied leave and was instead fired.
  • State of California Human Resources Department [10/1/18] agrees to pay $300,000 to resolve allegations of disability discrimination during the hiring and medical review process.  CalHR entered into a two-year conciliation agreement and will appoint an EEO consultant, a medical consultant and an EEO Officer to revise its current medical evaluation policies. 
Sexual, Age-Related Harassment and Retaliation
  • Altata Seafood [10/4/18] agrees to pay $220,000 to resolve allegations of sexual harassment, including touching, grabbing, sexual comments, sex requests and other illegal behaviors since February 2011.  Another employee was called a “worthless old woman” and her co-workers ridiculed her by taking bets about her age.  The company retaliated against women who refused to comply with sexual demands.
The foregoing has been prepared for the general information of clients and friends of Workplace Dynamics LLC and is not being represented as being all-inclusive or complete. It has been abridged from legislation, administrative ruling, agency directives, and other information provided by the government. It is not meant to provide legal advice with respect to any specific matter and should not be acted upon without professional counsel.