Jury Finds In Favor of EEOC That One-Armed Security Guard Was Fired Because Of His Disability

October 28, 2014

In a verdict in favor of U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a jury has found that a licensed security guard with only one arm was unlawfully discriminated against based on his limb loss when his employer, removed him from his post following a customer complaint about his disability, the federal agency recently announced.

The EEOC’s lawsuit charged Florida Commercial Security Services with disability discrimination when it removed Alberto Tarud-Saieh, who had who lost his right arm in a car accident, from his $8-an-hour security guard position after the president of the community association where he was stationed complained, “The company is a joke.  You sent me a one-armed security guard.”  The EEOC said the company removed Tarud-Saieh from his post and failed to reassign him to another post, effectively terminating his employment.

At trial, the EEOC argued based on well-settled law that reliance on discriminatory customer preferences and stereotypes about what individuals with disabilities can and cannot do violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 13-20465) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“It is unfortunate that disability discrimination in the workplace persists,” said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez.  “As we have shown, the EEOC will take those cases to trial, if necessary, to vindicate the rights of the victims.”

In addition to the monetary damages awarded by the jury totaling $35,922, the EEOC will seek an injunction prohibiting discrimination in the future by the defendant as well as other equitable and injunctive relief, including training and the implementation of anti-discrimination employment policies to be determined by the court.

Full article available at: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/10-23-14.cfmr

Wal-Mart Stores East Will Pay $72,500 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

October 28, 2014

Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P., will pay $72,500 and provide significant equitable relief to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, an assistant store manager at the Walmart store in Cockeysville, Md., offered Laura Jones a job as an evening sales associate, contingent on Jones passing a urinalysis test for illegal drugs. After Jones advised that she cannot produce urine because she has end-stage renal disease, the assistant store manager told her to ask the designated drug testing company about alternate tests, the EEOC said.  According to the complaint, Jones went to the drug testing facility the same day and learned that the facility could do other drug tests if the employer requested it.  Jones relayed this information to the Walmart assistant store manager, but management refused to order an alternative drug test.  Jones’s application was closed for failing to take a urinalysis within 24 hours.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, Civil Action No. 1:14-cv-00862-JKB) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-liti­gation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to providing $72,500 in monetary relief to Jones, the 30-month consent decree resolving this lawsuit provides substantial equitable relief, including enjoining Wal-Mart from taking any future adverse employment actions on the basis of disability and failing to provide reasonable accommodations. Wal-Mart will revise its applicant drug screen form to advise applicants that alternate drug screens will be available as a reasonable accommodation for applicants to whom a conditional offer of employment has been made in the Cockeysville store whose physical condition prevents them from producing urine and how to request a reasonable accommodation. Wal-Mart East shall provide training on the ADA and the revised drug screen form to its market and regional human resources directors, as well as to people with hiring responsibility at the Cockeysville store. The company will also furnish other remedial and preventive measures. Wal-Mart East will also post a notice regarding the resolution of this lawsuit.

“This is the fourth EEOC lawsuit alleging the employer failed to provide a reasonable accommodation and refused to hire a qualified applicant when the solution-to provide a blood drug test during the drug screening process-was simple,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “We are pleased that Wal-Mart East is providing targeted training and disseminating a memorandum on its drug screen policy, and hope that this settlement encourages all employers to review their hiring and post-offer drug screening procedures to ensure that qualified applicants are provided with needed reasonable accommodations.”

EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. added, “Most reasonable accommodations required under the ADA are free or inexpensive, such as this case, where the accommodation needed was an easy fix-the employer just has to offer alternative tests, such as a blood test, for applicants who need it for medical reasons.”

Full article available at: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/10-22-14b.cfm

U.S. Department of Labor Secures Nearly $2M in Back Wages, Benefits for Nearly 150 Workers at Federally-Funded Solar Energy Project in Nevada

October 28, 2014

The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $1,914,681.50 in back wages and fringe benefits for 147 workers at Proimtu Mmi-Nv LLC, a Henderson-based subcontractor providing construction services at the federally funded Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project in Tonopah. This project, which received a $737 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy, is a 110 MW solar energy power plant that will power up to 75,000 homes during peak electricity periods.

“The money we’ve recovered for these workers is not a windfall — it is their hard-earned pay that their employer was legally obligated to pay them but did not,” said Dr. David Weil, administrator of the department’s Wage and Hour Division. “Companies that benefit from federal funding must see to it that the money is used properly, and that their workers are compensated according to the law.”

An investigation found that Proimtu Mmi-Nv violated the prevailing wage and fringe benefits requirements of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts for the majority of their employees working at the Tonopah desert solar energy project. The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project is subject to specific requirements under the DBRA since its funding includes hundreds of millions of dollars in federal loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Energy under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Investigators established that from June 2013 through April 2014, Proimtu Mmi-Nv failed to pay workers the correct prevailing wage rates and fringe benefits for their particular job duties. The contractor paid “general laborers” rates to workers that routinely performed duties in skilled trades, such as ironworking, electrical work, painting or bridge crane operation, that should have commanded fringe benefits and prevailing wages of up to two times more than they were paid.

In addition to paying back wages and fringe benefits, Proimtu Mmi-Nv now properly classifies its workers by paying them the correct prevailing wages and fringe benefits for all hours worked, including overtime, as required. In addition, the subcontractor has also agreed to raise awareness with other employers working at Crescent Dunes about prevailing wage requirements.

Full article available at: http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/whd/WHD20141361.htm

OFCCP Sends Draft Final Rule on LGBT Executive Order Regulations to OMB

October 28, 2014

On October 20, 2014, the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs sent to the Office of Budget and Management its draft final rule on regulations to implement an Executive Order (EO) signed this summer by the President which bans discrimination against LGBT employees by federal contractors, a Labor Department spokesperson confirmed on October 21, 2014

Executive Order 13672 (79 FR 42971-42971), issued this past July, amends the existing EO 11246 to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of categories of federal contractor employees protected from discrimination and also to the list of categories of employees in regard to which covered federal contractors must take affirmative action to ensure equal employment opportunity. Of note, the new EO does not contain any exemption for religious organizations beyond that made by President George W. Bush in 2002 that allows religiously affiliated contractors to favor individuals of a particular religion when making employment decisions.

Section 3 of the EO 13672 specifically requires the Labor Department to, within 90 days of the order, “prepare regulations to implement” the changes to EO 11246, and Section 5 of the new EO provides that these changes will apply to contracts entered into on or after the effective date of the finalized regulations.

Full article available at: http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eoAdvancedSearch


Braun Electric to Pay $82,500 to Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

October 20, 2014

Bakersfield, Calif.-based Braun Electric Company will pay $82,500 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency recently announced.  Braun Electric provides industrial electrical services for the oil and gas industry throughout California’s San Joaquin Valley.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a male manager at Braun’s Belridge, Calif., location continually subjected female workers to a hostile work environment since 2010. The EEOC said the manager made daily grotesque remarks of a sexual nature to female subordinates and made explicit sexual propositions on a continual basis. Braun’s management failed to adequately address reports of harassment, and supervisors failed to report incidents of harassment they witnessed.  One female employee was forced to quit as a result of the ongoing hostile work environment, according to the EEOC.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The EEOC filed suit in September 2012 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. Braun Electric Company, Case No. 1:12-cv-01592 LJO SMS) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Pursuant to the three-year consent decree settling the suit, aside from the monetary relief obtained for the victims, Braun Electric agreed to retain an experienced, external equal employment opportunity monitor to review and revise its existing policies and procedures with respect to discrimination, harassment and retaliation.  The company further agreed to provide annual training for all staff on employee rights with respect to gender discrimination, harassment and retaliation and provide additional annual training for supervisory staff on how to adequately address such complaints.  The EEOC will monitor compliance with the decree.

Full article available at: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/10-15-14a.cfm

EEOC Sues FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. for Nationwide Disability Discrimination

October 13, 2014

Shipping giant FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., (FedEx Ground) violated federal law nationwide by discriminating against a large class of deaf and hard-of-hearing package handlers and job applicants for years, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it recently announced.

The EEOC says that FedEx Ground failed to provide needed accommodations such as American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and closed-captioned training videos during the mandatory initial tour of the facilities and new-hire orientation for deaf and hard-of-hearing applicants. The shipping company also failed to provide such accommodations during staff, performance, and safety meetings. Package handlers physically load and unload packages from delivery vehicles, place and reposition packages in FedEx Ground’s conveyor systems, and scan, sort and route packages.

The EEOC charges that, in addition to failing to provide communications-based accommodations for mandatory meetings, FedEx Ground refused to provide needed equipment substitutions and modifications for deaf and hard-of-hearing package handlers, such as providing scanners that vibrate instead of beep and installing flashing safety lights on moving equipment.

These widespread failures to provide reasonable accommodations occurred despite FedEx Ground having longstanding knowledge that it receives applications from, and has employed, a significant number of deaf and hard-of-hearing people in the package handler position throughout the country, including at facilities in Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Maryland, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, Oregon, Utah, and West Virginia.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of disability. The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with a disability unless the employer can show that doing so would be an undue hardship.

The EEOC’s lawsuit arose as a result of 19 charges filed throughout the country citing discrimination against deaf and hard-of-hearing people by FedEx Ground. The agency consolidated these charges and conducted a nationwide systemic investigation of these violations. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland (EEOC v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:14-cv-03081-WMN), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr, said “FedEx Ground failed to engage in an interactive process with deaf and hard-of-hearing package handlers and applicants to address their needs and to provide them with reasonable accommodations. That’s why we filed this lawsuit — to remedy alleged pervasive violations of the ADA on a national level.”

Full article available at: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/10-10-14.cfm

HiLine Electric to Pay $210,000 to Settle EEOC Age Discrimination Lawsuit

October 13, 2014

HiLine Electric Co., a Dallas-based industrial supply business, will pay $210,000 and furnish other relief to settle an age discrimination suit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency recently announced.  The settlement resolved agency claims that the employer included an age-based criterion in its recruiting and hiring process.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, an internal recruiter informed the agency that company executives provided her a form with a list of bulleted criteria/considerations for position candidates.  This form included a printed text box, referred to as the “HiLine box,” listing an age-based hiring consideration.  Upon receipt of additional information regarding instructions for screening, the EEOC alleged that the criteria HiLine used resulted in the non-selection of applicants who were over 50 and who appeared to be qualified for the position.  Eight applicants, who were over 50 years of age when they unsuccessfully sought employment as territory managers, were identified as having been affected by the company’s practice.

Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).  The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 3:09-CV-1848-M) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  Trial of this the case was scheduled to begin on Oct. 20.

A consent decree signed by Federal District Judge Barbara Lynn resolves all claims in the case.  In addition to the monetary damages, the three-year decree also provides for injunctive relief such as training and a notice posting.  HiLine agreed that it shall not in the future prepare, produce, publish or provide to any recruiter, manager, supervisor or any other employee, materials or lists of criteria in which chronological age or any proxy for age is a consideration for recruitment, hiring or promotion.

Full article available at: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/10-6-14c.cfm

Justice Department Settles Lawsuit Against Key Safety Systems, Inc. to Enforce Employment Rights of United States Army National Guard Member

October 6, 2014

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and U. S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III for the Middle District of Florida recently announced that they reached an agreement with Key Safety Systems Inc. resolving claims that Key Safety Systems violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) by demoting U.S. Army National Guard Member Ronald Collins Jr. following the announcement of his military deployment.

According to the complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, in October 2012, Collins notified Key Safety Systems that he was being deployed in February 2013 for one year of military service.  In December 2012, Collins was notified by Key Safety Systems that, effective immediately, he was being demoted, which resulted in a reduction in pay.  According to the complaint, Collins had not been the subject of any disciplinary actions prior to the announcement of his impending deployment.

The complaint further alleged that, at the time of the demotion, Collins was not provided any basis underlying the decision to demote him.  In January 2014, Collins returned from deployment and was returned to the position to which he had been demoted at Key Safety Systems.  Collins submitted his letter of resignation to Key Safety Systems in February 2014.

USERRA protects the rights of uniformed servicemembers to retain their civilian employment following absences due to military service obligations, and provides that servicemembers shall not be discriminated against because of their military obligations.

“Congress enacted USERRA to protect our men and women in uniform,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Molly Moran for the Civil Rights Division.  “Mr. Collins, like many members of the National Guard and Reserve, was called upon by his country in a time of need and the Department of Justice strongly supports the rights of service members to reclaim their rightful positions in the workforce after they complete their military service.”

Under the terms of the settlement, which was filed as a consent decree simultaneously with the complaint, Key Safety Systems has agreed to pay $20,000 as back pay and liquidated damages to Collins.

“Members of the United States Army National Guard are often called to make many sacrifices, including spending months or years away from their jobs and families,” said U.S. Attorney Bentley.  “When they are deployed in the service of our country, their employment rights must be protected.  Our office and the entire Department of Justice are committed to ensuring that individuals do not lose their rights while they are protecting ours.”

Full article available at: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-settles-lawsuit-against-key-safety-systems-inc-enforce-employment-rights-0

Prestige Transportation Service to Pay $200,000 and Mend Hiring Practices to Settle EEOC Race Discrimination Lawsuit

October 6, 2014

Prestige Transportation Service, LLC. a Miami company which provides transportation services to airline personnel to and from Miami International Airport, will pay $200,000 to settle a race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency recently announced.

The EEOC charged in its suit that Prestige’s predecessor company, Airbus Alliance, Inc., which was under different ownership, repeatedly instructed its human resources manager not to hire African-American applicants because they were “trouble” and “would sue the company.”  Airbus also stated that it would be a “waste of paper” to give applications to black employees, the EEOC said.

Such alleged practices violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race.  The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 1:13-cv-20684) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida after first attempting to reach a settlement through its conciliation process.

According to the terms of the four-year consent decree approved late Friday, September 26, 2014, by U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrea Simonton, Prestige will pay $200,000 to settle the suit.  Payments will be made to three named claimants, as well as a class of black applicants for employment. In addition, Prestige has agreed to the following additional measures as part of the consent decree. The company will:

  • hire class members as openings become available over the next four years;
  • implement numerical goals for the hiring of black applicants;
  • use targeted advertising and recruitment to encourage black applicants to apply for
  • employment at Prestige;
  • implement an anti-discrimination policy that includes clear avenues for reporting
  • discriminatory conduct;
  • train human resources personnel, management personnel, and hiring personnel on an annual
  • basis; and
  • report to the EEOC and keep records about its hiring practices and compliance with the
  • Full article available at: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/10-1-14.cfm
  • “We are pleased that Prestige — under its new ownership — worked with the EEOC in reaching this important settlement,” said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney of the agency’s Miami District Office. “The hiring and policy changes implemented by Prestige demonstrate the company’s commitment to hiring African-Americans and we are confident that going forward, Prestige will have a diverse workforce.”
  • consent decree.

Wells Fargo to Pay $295,000 to Resolve EEOC Finding of Retaliation Against Hispanic Employee

October 6, 2014

Wells Fargo & Company has agreed to pay $295,000 to resolve a discrimination charge filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency recently announced. A finding by the EEOC determined that Wells Fargo disciplined and terminated a Minneapolis Wells Fargo employee in retaliation for complaining of differential treatment based on her race and national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The EEOC’s investigation revealed that the employee reported to the Wells Fargo human resources department that she was being subjected to differential treatment and that her supervisor told her not to speak Spanish during her non-duty time. Shortly thereafter, the EEOC found, Wells Fargo initiated discipline and ultimately terminated the employee for practices other employees regularly engaged in without discipline.

In addition to the monetary relief, the conciliation agreement requires Wells Fargo to conduct four hours of annual training for all managers and supervisors in the personal insurance business division where the employee worked. The training, which may be observed by the EEOC, will encompass the federal and state laws that prohibit employment discrimination, with special consideration given to anti-retaliation provisions and requirements to speak only English at work that violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In addition, Wells Fargo will distribute to all employees annually an electronic mail message affirming its commitment to diversity, multilingual ability and the use of languages other than English in the workplace. Wells Fargo will also report to the EEOC all allegations of discrimination or retaliation annually during the term of the three-year agreement.

Full article available at: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/10-1-14e.cfm