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Food Rite Community Supermarket Settles EEOC Sex Discrimination Lawsuit

Richmond Store Denied Qualified Female Applicant Van Driver Job, Lawsuit Charged

RICHMOND, Va. – Lee’s Food Corp., doing business as Food Rite Community Super­market, will pay $10,500 and provide other relief to settle a sex discrim­ination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Food Rite refused to hire Deborah Newell for a vacant part-time courtesy van driver position because of her gender. The EEOC charged that in October 2012, Newell saw an online job advertisement for a part-time courtesy driver position at Food Rite Community Supermarket in Richmond. Newell, who met all the job’s qualifications, went to the Food Rite, where she spoke to the store manager about her interest in the vacant driver position. The EEOC said the manager told Newell that he would not hire a woman for the courtesy van driver position out of concern that a female driver would be at greater risk of being assaulted on the job than a male driver. Approximately five days after Newell inquired about the courtesy van driver position, the store hired a male candidate for the position, the EEOC said.

Sex discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Lee’s Food Corp. d/b/a Food Rite Community Supermarket, Civil Action No.3:13cv838) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to monetary damages, the three-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit includes injunctive relief prohibiting the company from discriminating on the basis of sex in the future, and from retaliating against employees who resist unlawful discrimination or complain about it. The settlement also provides that Lee’s Food Corp. will implement an employment policy prohibiting sex discrimination; conduct training for all employees; post an employee notice about the settlement; provide a copy of its anti-discrimination policy to all employees; and report discrimination complaints to the EEOC.

“Denying a qualified applicant a job because of her sex is unjust and unlawful, no matter if the discrimination results from a ‘concern’ for women’s safety,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “That decision is a woman’s alone to make for herself. All people should be allowed an equal opportunity to compete for jobs for which they are qualified.”

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