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Bank of America to Pay $110,000 to Resolve EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

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CHICAGO – Bank of America will pay $110,000 to a former temporary worker and provide other equitable relief under a consent decree resolving a disability discrimination case brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC alleged that Bank of America failed to accommodate a visually impaired data entry worker and instead terminated his temporary assignment at one of the bank’s branches in downtown Chicago after one day on the job.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities. This can include making adjustments or modifications in the workplace that enable an employee with a disability to perform the essential functions of his job. For example, an employer may be required to provide screen magnifying software that would enable an employee with a visual impairment to perform essential computer work. Questions and answers about blindness, visual impairments and the ADA are available on the EEOC’s website.

The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Bank of America, N.A., Civil Action No. 11-cv-6378, September 13, 2011 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. U.S. District Judge Milton I. Shadur entered the decree resolving the suit December 18. In addition to monetary relief for the former employee, the decree includes an injunction requiring the bank provide reasonable accommodations to temporary and contingent workers at its branches throughout Illinois, provides for training about the ADA’s requirements and imposes recordkeeping and reporting requirements for the duration of the decree.

“Of the millions of working-age Americans with vision loss, research has shown that fewer than half are employed, An employer of the size and sophistication of Bank of America, which employs an enormous number of people working at computer terminals, ought to be a national leader in employing individuals with disabilities, including vision loss, and a leader in ADA compliance generally,” said John Hendrickson, EEOC Chicago district regional attorney. “We’re optimistic that this consent decree is going to prompt that kind of progress at Bank of America, not only because it’s the law, but also because it’s the right thing to do.”

The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

Lawler Foods Refused to Hire Non-Hispanics EEOC Charges in Discrimination Suit

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Bakery’s Word-of-Mouth Hiring and Ads Stating a Preference for Spanish Speakers Also Discriminatory, Federal Agency Says

HOUSTON – Lawler Foods, Inc. and Lawler Foods, Ltd., a Houston-area production bakery, violated federal law by engaging in a pattern or practice of failing to hire black and non-Hispanic applicants for entry-level positions in its facility, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed December 16, 2014.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Lawler Foods has been discriminating in its hiring since at least 2007. The EEOC’s suit alleges that African-American and non-Hispanic applicants have been told that they would not be hired because they were not Hispanic or could not speak Spanish. Some non-Hispanic applicants were treated rudely and waited to be interviewed to no avail, while Hispanic applicants were interviewed. Evidence also showed that non-Hispanic applicants generally had more relevant working experience and education than the Hispanic applicants Lawler hired. The lawsuit also alleges that Lawler Foods relied on word-of-mouth hiring and advertised a preference for Spanish-speaking applicants, practices that the EEOC alleges had a discriminatory impact on black and non-Hispanic applicants. The EEOC’s administrative investigation culminated in findings of class-wide hiring discrimination based on statistical and anecdotal evidence.

Lawler Foods’ alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits intentional discrimination based on race and national origin, and also prohibits using employment practices that have a disparate impact on based on race or national origin. The EEOC filed suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division (Civil Action No. 4:14-cv-03588), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting Lawler Foods from engaging in race and national origin discrimination. The suit also seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of the discrimination victims and other relief, including implementing fair recruitment and hiring procedures, and rightful-place hiring of mistreated job applicants.

“Using an employment practice that has the effect of excluding people on the basis of race or national origin is unlawful under the laws we enforce,” said Martin Ebel, acting director of the EEOC’s Houston District Office.

EEOC Houston Regional Attorney Jim Sacher added, “Assuring fair access to job opportunities continues to be a high priority for the EEOC’s litigation program. We stand for fair hiring, and will fight any practice that discriminates against any race or national origin, regardless of who benefits.”

Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, women, and people with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

Individuals who believe they may have been denied a position at Lawler Foods because of their race or national origin or who have any information that would be helpful to the EEOC’s suit against the company should contact the EEOC at (713) 651-4970.

According to its website, www.lawlers.com, Lawler Foods produces desserts for businesses in the United States, Mexico, Canada and Europe.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Additional information is available on the agency’s website at www.eeoc.gov.

The EEOC’s Houston District Office is located on the sixth floor of the Total Building at 1201 Louisiana Avenue in Houston.

EEOC and Sherman Howard L.L.C. Conciliate Sexual and Gender Discrimination Charge

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Firm Implemented Remedial Measures When Allegations Came To Light

DENVER – A former assistant in one of the offices of the regional law firm of Sherman & Howard L.L.C. filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Denver Field Office. The charge contained allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.

The firm undertook an internal investigation and implemented remedial measures when the allegations came to light. Upon receipt of the charge, the EEOC conducted a separate investigation and determined that a violation of Title VII occurred. The firm cooperated with the EEOC investigation fully. The firm has denied any wrongdoing or liability, but has agreed to an end relief that has been allocated to back pay and compensatory damages at the request of the charging party. The firm has also agreed to continue its recurring sexual harassment training to its workforce.

The EEOC enforces the federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov

What You Should Know: Questions and Answers About the Equal Pay Act

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Background

EEOC enforces the Equal Pay Act (EPA). The EPA prohibits pay discrimination based on sex, but it is limited to pay discrimination between employees who are performing the same job at the same location.

1. Do women and men have to be performing identical jobs for the EPA to apply?

No. The EPA does not require that the jobs be identical. The following requirements apply:
•a significant portion of the job tasks are the same for the positions being compared;
•the two jobs involve similar levels of skill, which means similar levels of experience, ability, education, and training;
•the two jobs involve similar levels of mental and physical exertion;
•the two jobs involve similar levels of responsibility or accountability; and
•the two jobs are performed under similar working conditions.

2. Do the two individuals have to be working in the same place?

Generally, yes. However, workers at different worksites sometimes may be compared if the same managers oversee the operations of both locations and workers frequently transfer between the two locations.

3. If I’m being paid less than someone of the opposite sex who is doing the same job as me at the same location, does that mean that my employer is violating the EPA?

Not necessarily. Under limited circumstances, an employer is permitted to pay someone of the opposite sex more, even though he or she is performing the same job. To justify the higher pay, the employer would have to show that the higher pay is based on one of the following:
•a seniority system that rewards employees based on length of employment;
•a merit system that rewards employees for exceptional job performance;
•an incentive system that pays employees based on the quality of their work or the amount of work they perform; or
•another factor related to job performance or business operations, such as paying a shift differential to workers on less popular shifts.

4. What can I do if I believe my employer has violated the EPA?

If you believe that your employer has violated the EPA, you can either file a charge with the EEOC or you can file a lawsuit in court. Under the EPA, you are generally required to file your lawsuit within two years of when you received the discriminatory pay. You should be aware that filing a charge with the EEOC does not extend your two-year time frame for filing an EPA lawsuit.

5. Do other laws also prohibit pay discrimination?

Yes, all of the laws enforced by the EEOC prohibit pay discrimination. Pay discrimination based on sex is also prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits discrimination in compensation and other terms and conditions of employment, so it is broader than the EPA. Title VII also prohibits discrimination in compensation or other aspects of employment based on race, color, religion, or national origin. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act prohibit discrimination in compensation or other aspects of employment based on age (40 or over), disability, or genetic information.

6. Where can I find more information about pay discrimination?

Several documents on EEOC’s website provide background information on the EPA and other EEO laws prohibiting pay discrimination:
•EEOC Compliance Manual Section on Compensation Discrimination: http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/compensation.html
•Questions and Answers: Compliance Manual Section on Compensation Discrimination: http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/qanda-compensation.html

EEOC and Sherman Howard L.L.C. Conciliate Sexual and Gender Discrimination Charge

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Firm Implemented Remedial Measures When Allegations Came To Light

DENVER – A former assistant in one of the offices of the regional law firm of Sherman & Howard L.L.C. filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Denver Field Office. The charge contained allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.

The firm undertook an internal investigation and implemented remedial measures when the allegations came to light. Upon receipt of the charge, the EEOC conducted a separate investigation and determined that a violation of Title VII occurred. The firm cooperated with the EEOC investigation fully. The firm has denied any wrongdoing or liability, but has agreed to an end relief that has been allocated to back pay and compensatory damages at the request of the charging party. The firm has also agreed to continue its recurring sexual harassment training to its workforce.

The EEOC enforces the federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov

EEOC Sued Blinded Veterans Association for Age Discrimination

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Organization Fired Two Older Employees Because of Age, Federal Agency Charges

WASHINGTON — Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that provides services to blind veterans, violated federal law when it fired two longstanding employees because of their age, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.

The EEOC charges that BVA officials, including a member of the BVA board of directors, repeatedly asked Lazaro Martinez, who was then age 76 and had worked for BVA for 34 years, when he would retire from his position as assistant national field service director at the association’s Mather, Calif., location. Martinez replied that he was not considering retirement. About two months later, BVA announced that it was “reclassifying” certain jobs, including Martinez’s position, and that he needed to compete for one of the newly-created national field service officer positions if he wanted to remain employed by BVA. In order to compete for one of the newly created jobs, BVA imposed on Martinez arbitrary and unrealistic requirements. According to the lawsuit, BVA terminated Martinez because of his age and selected a younger candidate for a national field service officer position.

The EEOC also contends that Suzanne Matthews, who was then 70 years of age, had worked for BVA in Washington, D.C. for approximately 15 years when her supervisor repeatedly asked her, “When are you going to retire?” and “When are you moving to Florida?” Despite her good job performance, BVA abruptly terminated Matthews from her position as an administrative assistant to the national director of field service. After being notified of her termination, Matthews applied for a newly created BVA position for which she was qualified. The lawsuit charges that BVA fired Matthews because of her age and selected an employee for the newly created position who was over 20 years younger than Matthews and who had only three years of experience with BVA.

Such conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Blinded Veterans Association, Civil Action No. 1:14-cv-02102) in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In the lawsuit, the EEOC is seeking an injunction prohibiting BVA from engaging in future age discrimination, lost wages and liquidated damages, as well as other affirmative relief.

“Employers head in the wrong direction if they make employment decisions based on age or try to pressure employees to retire,” said Washington Field Office Acting Director Mindy Weinstein. “Older workers are valuable contributors to the workforce and economy, and the EEOC will take strong action if employers fire people because of their age.”

EEOC Philadelphia District Office Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, “Targeting older workers under the pretext of a reorganization doesn’t fool anyone – it’s clearly age discrimination, and clearly unlawful.”

The legal staff of the Philadelphia District Office of the EEOC prosecutes cases arising out of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, parts of New Jersey, Ohio, and Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.

EEOC’s St. Louis District Office to Sign Outreach Agreement with Mexican Consulate

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Agreement Will Establish an Ongoing Collaborative Relationship Between the Two Entities

ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis District Office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Consulate of Mexico for Kansas City on Wednesday, Dec.10, the agency announced today. The signing will take place at the Consulate of Mexico’s office at 1617 Baltimore Avenue at 12:00 p.m. Head Consul Alicia Guadalupe Kerber Palma and the EEOC’s St. Louis District Director James R. Neely, Jr. will sign the agreement.

The agreement will establish an ongoing collaborative relationship between these two entities to provide Mexican nationals with information, guidance and access to education and training resources to help them exercise their workplace rights. This agreement is also a key objective of the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan, which includes protecting the rights of immigrants, migrant and other vulnerable workers.

Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding, the EEOC and the consulate will launch an educational program aimed at assisting Mexican nationals to become aware of the laws that prohibit employment discrimination, as well as disseminating compliance and educational materials to the consulate’s constituency. The EEOC and the consulate will also conduct two informational forums each calendar year and set up a system for consular contact with Mexican nationals who have returned to Mexico and are owed monetary compensation the EEOC has collected from the responsible employers.

The Mexican Consulate in Kansas City provides services to preserve the rights of Mexican nationals residing in Missouri as well as other areas in the Midwest. The EEOC’s St. Louis District Office enforces federal employment discrimination laws and has jurisdiction over Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and 16 counties in southern Illinois.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the agency is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov in both English and Spanish or by calling its toll free number at 1-800-669-4000. The EEOC’s toll-free TTY number is 1-800-669-6820.

Justrite Manufacturing Company to Pay $418,000

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TO SETTLE EEOC CLASS INVESTIGATION EEOC Found Employer Discriminated and Retaliated Against Disabled Employees

CHICAGO – Justrite Manufacturing Company, a Mattoon, Ill.-based manufacturer of storage, handling and security products, will pay $418,000 to settle disability discrimination complaints filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The settlement results from a multi-year EEOC investigation which found that Justrite discriminated against disabled employees in that it refused to engage in an interactive dialogue with employees to find reasonable accommodations, denied reasonable accommodations outright, and/or retaliated against those who requested accommodations or complained about discrimination. Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The settlement not only provides monetary relief to those who have already been discriminated against, but also ensures the company will take proactive measures to prevent discrimination from occurring in the future. Justrite will conduct ADA training for all of its 130 employees, revise and disseminate its anti-discrimination policies and procedures, including those related to providing reasonable accommodations to employees under the ADA, and provide periodic reporting to the EEOC of complaints against the company and its progress in complying with the ADA.

“The reasonable accommodation process works best when both the worker and the employer engage in a good-faith, collaborative discussion to find a mutually beneficial way for the disabled employee to perform the job,” said John P. Rowe, Director of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office. “Retaliation against those who seek to begin this discussion would obviously undermine that process. Such conduct is not only illegal under the ADA, but is also destructive to the greater national goal of enabling employees, disabled or not, to take their place as workers as far as their talents and abilities will take them.”

Justrite denied any wrongdoing, but agreed to conciliate the matter with the EEOC and a class or individuals, including the individuals who filed charges.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing the nation’s laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, and retaliation. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.

What You Should Know: EEOC and Employment Opportunities for Disabled Veterans

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Background: Over the past decade, three million veterans have returned from military service and another one million are expected to return to civilian life over the course of the next five years. The particular challenges faced by veterans with disabilities in obtaining employment has been the subject of increased attention in recent months, as large numbers of veterans return from service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Twenty-five percent of veterans of recent conflicts report having service-connected disabilities, as opposed to only 13 percent of all veterans, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to a recent report this fall from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment for veterans hovers around 10 percent, which is more than three percentage points higher than the overall unemployment rate.

Through our private sector enforcement and litigation efforts, our policy and outreach work, and through our federal sector hearings, appeals, and coordination work, EEOC employees perform important services to veterans, ensuring that their rights to equal employment opportunity are upheld.

Below is a summary of what EEOC is doing for Veterans:

•The EEOC held a public meeting on Nov. 16, 2011 entitled “Overcoming Barriers to the Employment of Veterans with Disabilities.” In that meeting, the Commission heard testimony from a panel of experts on the unique needs of veterans with disabilities transitioning to civilian employment.
•The EEOC issued two revised publications addressing veterans with disabilities and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The revised guides, for employers and veterans, reflect changes to the law stemming from the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, which make it easier for veterans with a wide range of impairments – including those that are often not well understood, such as traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — to get needed reasonable accommodations that will enable them to work successfully.
•Based on preliminary tallies, EEOC personnel conducted outreach to veterans and service members at a total of 120 events that reached over 8,600 people over the course of FY 2013. This outreach can make an enormous difference in veterans’ civilian work experience by familiarizing them with the rights the ADA affords people with disabilities in the workplace.

These are only highlights of EEOC’s work in this area. We remain committed to removing barriers to employment for veterans with disabilities.

“We want veterans with disabilities to know that the EEOC has resources to assist them as they transition to, or move within the civilian workforce,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.”

Swissport Fueling to Pay $250,000 to Settle EEOC Race and National Origin Harassment Lawsuit

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African Fuelers at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport Were Repeatedly Called ‘Monkeys’ By a Phoenix Swissport Manager, Federal Agency Charged

PHOENIX – Swissport Fueling, Inc., which fuels aircraft at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, will pay $250,000 and furnish other relief to settle a lawsuit for race and national origin harassment filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

The EEOC’s lawsuit was brought to obtain relief for fuelers who were from various African nations, including Sudan, Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone. The lawsuit alleges that a Swissport manager routinely called the African fuelers “monkeys.” According to the allegations, a Swissport manager called the fuelers “monkeys” in a number of degrading ways:
•A Swissport manager called the fuelers “monkeys” in anger, such as “What are you doing here, monkeys?”
•A manager called at least one fueler “monkey” as a replacement for his name.
•A manager ridiculed the culture of the fuelers by making derogatory statements about the fuelers’ lunches, describing the fuelers’ food as “monkey soup.”
•A manager made demeaning references to slavery to the fuelers. For example, a manager told them, for example, “You guys are lucky I pay you because way back then, you did not get paid”; “You are lucky to be paid. A long time ago blacks were doing this for free”; “At one time, you people would not be paid”; and “Blacks work for free.”

According to the allegations, the African fuelers reported the harassment verbally and in writing, including by signing a written petition and delivering it to the office of Swissport’s general manager at the Phoenix facility to try to stop the harassment. The EEOC says that despite the fuelers’ complaints, the abuse continued.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit, EEOC v. Swissport Fueling, Inc. (2:10-CV-02101-GMS), in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the paying $250,000 to the African fuelers who allege they were subjected to the hostile work environment, Swissport also must provide training on harassment based upon race, national origin, and color to managers, supervisors, and human resource employees. Swissport is also required to implement policies prohibiting harassment based upon race, national origin, and color, and post a notice that harassment of Swissport’s employees is unlawful and will not be tolerated.

“It is against federal civil rights laws for an employer to single out any group, including the immigrant community, by subjecting it to a hostile work environment based upon its national origin, race, and color,” said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office. “Employers have a responsibility to take prompt, corrective action when they learn of such abuse. The action taken must remedy the harassment that already has occurred, stop the misconduct and prevent future abuse.”

EEOC’s Phoenix District Director Rayford Irvin said, “The EEOC will not tolerate harassment based upon race, national origin, and color. The word “monkey,” which historically has been used as a highly demeaning racial slur, is especially unacceptable.”

According to its website, Swissport provides fueling services at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, where it employs 160 people and has handled over 407 million gallons of fuel. Swissport’s customers include Southwest Airlines, US Airways, AeroMexico, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, United Airlines, FedEx and DHL.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov .