The EEOC recently settled a lawsuit that charged one of the country’s largest retailers, Sears Roebuck & Co with race, age, sex discrimination and retaliation against Mary Johnson, an African-American female employee. The settlement provides for Sears to pay $100,000 as well as take action to prevent and handle future instances of discrimination.
The EEOC filed suit in September 2010, alleging that Johnson was passed over for a promotion to supervisor several times beginning in 2007 while less experienced, younger, white males were promoted. Johnson worked in loss prevention at several Sears stores in Oklahoma City from 1982 until she was terminated in March of 2010. The EEOC also alleged that Sears retaliated against Johnson for filing an EEOC discrimination charge and participating in the EEOC’s investigation by worsening her working conditions.
In a consent decree with the EEOC, Sears has agreed to pay Johnson $100,000 and take specific action to prevent future discrimination. It will have to post anti-discrimination notices to all employees, hand out its anti-discrimination policy and provide training on the subject to its employees. Barbara Seely, the regional attorney at the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office, stated “Corporate America must be more vigilant in guarding against discrimination and retaliation or risk action and exposure by the EEOC.”
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against employees who are at least 40 years old. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion and national origin. Both acts cover discriminatory practices in all aspect of employment including but not limited to hiring, firing, compensation, recruitment, training, pay, retirement plans, disability leave, terms and conditions of employment as well as health care benefits. Under both laws, it is also illegal to retaliate against an individual for filing a discrimination charge or participating in an investigation.
The EEOC reported that in 2010, 36% of all discrimination claims filed also alleged some type of retaliation by the employer. Retaliation at the workplace is when you take adverse action against an employee for engaging in “protected activity.” Protected activity includes but is not limited to filing a discrimination claim with the EEOC or a state or local agency, filing a discrimination complaint with the employer, or supporting a co-worker’s complaint.
Although discrimination based on age, sex, and race are illegal at the workplace, it is a major problem in both small and large companies. If one of your employees complains or files an EEOC charge alleging discrimination, make sure he or she is not retaliated against. In this day and age, take every complaint seriously and promptly investigate the matter. It is essential to have an employee handbook with your company’s policy and complaint mechanism for discrimination. Make sure every employee has a copy and signs a statement that they have read it and understood it. It is not enough just to have a company policy. It is also crucial to train your managers and supervisors on how to follow and carry out your company’s policy on discrimination. Our Discrimination Attorneys have prepared policies and handbooks for many companies as well as conducted training seminars to teach supervisors and managers on how to deal with discrimination. If your company doesn’t have a discrimination policy or handbook call our Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to help you avoid and minimize the potential cost of employment discrimination.
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Facts About Age Discrimination, EEOC
Sears Settles EEOC Suit for Race, Age, Sex Discrimination and Retaliation, EEOC Press Release