Food Market Terminated Manager Who Filed Discrimination Charge, Federal Agency Charged
INDIANAPOLIS – Two shareholders/officers of the dissolved corporation Bright Petroleum Inc. d/b/a The Bright Market, will pay $15,000 to a former employee and provide other relief to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit (4:13-CV-205-SEB-WGH), filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, New Albany Division, Bright Petroleum, Inc. terminated Deli Manager Michelle Bunte in retaliation for filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. Bright Petroleum, Inc. is the former owner/operator of The Bright Market, a food market and gas station located in Lawrenceburg, Indiana.
Retaliation for complaining about or reporting sex discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after unsuccessful attempts to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The consent decree settling the suit states Bunte will be paid $15,000, and Bright Market will be subject to penalties for late payments. Former shareholders/officers of Bright Petroleum, Inc., June and Jay Tucker, will be prohibited from engaging in any further retaliation against employees who exercise their rights to complain about discrimination or assist in an investigation or discrimination-related proceeding for any businesses which the Tuckers own, operate or manage. All references to Bunte’s charge and participation in the lawsuit will be removed from her personnel file and not shared with prospective employers of Bunte. Bunte will also be given a signed letter of reference. The Tuckers will report to the EEOC for a three-year period, detailing their compliance with the decree.
“Employers play with fire when they retaliate against an employee who complains of discrimination,” said EEOC Indianapolis Regional Attorney Laurie A. Young. Indianapolis District Director Webster Smith agreed and said he was pleased the EEOC charge process resulted in solving the alleged retaliation, despite the fact the charged corporation dissolved in 2013.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.