Mitsuwa Marketplace Violated Law by Paying Hispanic Workers Less Than Others for Identical Jobs, Federal Agency Charged

EEOC PRESS RELEASE 4-17-13

 

Edgewater Japanese Market to Pay $250,000 to Hispanic Employees Paid less Due to National Origin

NEWARK, N.J. — Mitsuwa Corporation, which does business as Mitsuwa Marketplace, a large Japanese market in Edgewater, N.J., will pay $250,000 to settle a national origin discrimination lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, since 2005, Mitsuwa has routinely paid Hispanic employees less than non-Hispanics doing the same work because of their national origin. The case stemmed from a discrimination charge from an individual employee who complained of being underpaid because he was Hispanic. An investigation by the EEOC revealed that a class of Hispanic employees was discriminated against in this way over several years.

Discrimination in compensation based on employees’ national origin violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in Newark (Civil Action No. 09-CV-04733 [ES][CLW]) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Under the consent decree settling the suit, signed by federal Judge Esther Salas, Mitsuwa will also give pay increases to current Hispanic employees amounting to a combined total of approximately $30,000 per year for three years.

Mitsuwa is enjoined from discriminating against Hispanic employees. The consent decree provides for a monitor who will periodically review Mitsuwa’s compensation practices and discrimination complaints, and will report to EEOC. Mitsuwa has also revised its anti-discrimination policies and will train its managers and employees on Title VII, including the prohibition against compensation discrimination based on national origin.

“Employers everywhere should know that Title VII insures that they cannot pay employees less based on their national origin, just as they cannot discriminate in compensation based on sex or race,” said EEOC District Director Kevin Berry.

“The EEOC stands ready to assist employees who are being undercompensated compared to similarly situated co-workers simply because of their national origin,” added New York Regional Attorney Elizabeth Grossman.

Eliminating discriminatory policies affecting vulnerable workers who may be unaware of their rights under equal employment laws, or who may be reluctant or unable to exercise their rights, is a national priority identified in EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan. These policies can include disparate pay.

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

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L.A. Fire Department Settles EEOC Harassment & Retaliation Case for Nearly $500,000

PRESS RELEASE
1-31-12

Firefighter Tormented by Sexual and Religious Harassment & Disciplined in Retaliation for Participating in Another Firefighter’s Discrimination Proceeding

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles City Fire Department will pay $494,150 and implement widespread anti-harassment training to settle federal charges of discrimination filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

Anthony Almeida, a firefighter/engineer employed since 1986, filed an EEOC discrimination charge initially in 2007, alleging that he was continually harassed by fellow firefighters at his station who employed deeply offensive comments of a sexual and religious nature. An EEOC investigation uncovered that the harassment, which began in late 2006, appeared linked to a lawsuit filed against the Catholic Church by Almeida regarding sexual abuse he suffered by a priest. One coworker learned that Almeida had filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Church over the abuse, and several coworkers mocked him for that, using explicit and offensive religious and sexual epithets. Although Almeida complained about the harassment to management officials, the EEOC investigation found that the Fire Department failed to adequately halt or address it. Further, the investigation found that Almeida had suffered retaliatory discipline for his participation in another equal employment opportunity investigation.

Harassment of a sexual or religious nature, along with retaliation, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Following a determination by the EEOC that there was reasonable cause to believe a violation of law occurred, the Los Angeles City Fire Department entered into a three-year conciliation agreement with the EEOC and Almeida, who was represented by private counsel. The agreement effectively settles the case administratively, thereby avoiding litigation. Aside from the monetary relief, the Fire Department agreed to provide widespread live anti-harassment training to all fire station chiefs and their subordinate staff, impacting every fire station in the city of Los Angeles. The Fire Department also agreed to continue to enforce its policies against discrimination, harassment and retaliation; to offer an external equal employment opportunity complaint procedure; to post a notice on the matter; to report future instances of harassment to the EEOC; and, to publicize the settlement via press release.

“We are pleased that the Los Angeles City Fire Department is demonstrating its commitment toward creating a workplace free of harassment and retaliation,” said Olophius Perry, district director for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office. “By working with the EEOC this way, the Department is sending a message that no further civil rights abuses will be tolerated — a key responsibility of all employers.”

According to its website, the Los Angeles City Fire Department employs over 3,500 uniformed personnel and has 103 neighborhood fire stations across its 470 square-mile jurisdiction, protecting approximately four million people living within the city of Los Angeles.

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

EEOC Press Release: Pepsi to Pay $3.13 Million for Hiring Discrimination

EEOC PRESS RELEASE
1-11-12

 

Pepsi to Pay $3.13 Million and Made Major Policy Changes to Resolve EEOC Finding of Nationwide Hiring Discrimination Against African Americans

Company’s Former Use of Criminal Background Checks Discriminated Based On Race, Agency Found

MINNEAPOLIS – Pepsi Beverages (Pepsi), formerly known as Pepsi Bottling Group, has agreed to pay $3.13 million and provide job offers and training to resolve a charge of race discrimination filed in the Minneapolis Area Office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  The monetary settlement will primarily be divided among black applicants for positions at Pepsi, with a portion of the sum being allocated for the administration of the claims process. Based on the investigation, the EEOC found reasonable cause to believe that the criminal background check policy formerly used by Pepsi discriminated against African Americans in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  

The EEOC’s investigation revealed that more than 300 African Americans were adversely affected when Pepsi applied a criminal background check policy that disproportionately excluded black applicants from permanent employment.  Under Pepsi’s former policy, job applicants who had been arrested pending prosecution were not hired for a permanent job even if they had never been convicted of any offense.

Pepsi’s former policy also denied employment to applicants from employment who had been arrested or convicted of certain minor offenses. The use of arrest and conviction records to deny employment can be illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when it is not relevant for the job, because it can limit the employment opportunities of applicants or workers based on their race or ethnicity.

“The EEOC has long standing guidance and policy statements on the use of arrest and conviction records in employment,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.  “I commend Pepsi’s willingness to re-examine its policy and modify it to ensure that unwarranted roadblocks to employment are removed.”
 
During the course of the EEOC’s investigation, Pepsi adopted a new criminal background check policy.  In addition to the monetary relief, Pepsi will offer employment opportunities to victims of the former criminal background check policy who still want jobs at Pepsi and are qualified for the jobs for which they apply.  The company will supply the EEOC with regular reports on its hiring practices under its new criminal background check policy.  Pepsi will conduct Title VII training for its hiring personnel and all of its managers.

“When employers contemplate instituting a background check policy, the EEOC recommends that they take into consideration the nature and gravity of the offense, the time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence, and the nature of the job sought in order to be sure that the exclusion is important for the particular position.  Such exclusions can create an adverse impact based on race in violation of Title VII,” said Julie Schmid, Acting Director of the EEOC’s Minneapolis Area Office. “We hope that employers with unnecessarily broad criminal background check policies take note of this agreement and reassess their policies to ensure compliance with Title VII.”

“We obtained significant financial relief for a large number of victims of discrimination, got them job opportunities that they were previously denied, and eradicated an unlawful barrier for future applicants,” said EEOC Chicago District Director John Rowe. “We are pleased that Pepsi chose to work with us to reach this conciliation agreement and that through our joint efforts, we have been able to bring about real change at Pepsi without resorting to litigation.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws against employment discrimination.  The EEOC issued its first written policy guidance regarding the use of arrest and conviction records in employment in the 1980s.  The Commission also considered this issue in 2008 and held a meeting on the use of arrest and conviction records in employment last summer.  The EEOC is a member of the federal interagency Reentry Council, a Cabinet-level interagency group convened to examine all aspects of reentry of individuals with criminal records.

The Minneapolis Area Office is part of the EEOC’s Chicago District.  The Chicago District   is responsible for investigating charges of discrimination in Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and North and South Dakota.  Further information is available at http://www.eeoc.gov.

Supercuts Settles EEOC Religious Discrimination and Retaliation Lawsuit via EEOC.gov

PRESS RELEASE
9-14-11

$43,500 for Hair Stylist Fired For Refusing to Work on Sabbath

OAKLAND, Calif. – Salon chain Supercuts has agreed to pay $43,500 and to implement preventive measures to settle a religious accommodation and retaliation lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.

According to the EEOC, Carolyn Sedar had been employed as a stylist and shift manager for Supercuts in Pleasant Hill, Calif. Since 1999, store managers accommodated her observance of her Christian Sabbath by permitting her not to work on Sundays until November 2008, when a new store manager scheduled Sedar for a Sunday shift. Despite written and oral requests to managers informing them that she could not work on her Sabbath, Supercuts refused to excuse Sedar and terminated her after she refused to work on two consecutive Sundays.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to accommodate the sincerely held religious beliefs of employees, as long as the accommodations are reasonable and do not create an undue hardship. The law also prohibits retaliation against employees. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Supercuts Corporate Stores, Inc. CV 104412 RS in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The court-approved consent decree in this case provides, among other things, training of managers and employees about religious accommodation under Title VII, providing reports to the EEOC of all requests for religious accommodation at a number of its salons, and posting a notice at the salons addressing religious accommodation in the workplace.

San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo noted, “No one should be forced to choose between sincerely held religious beliefs and a job. This settlement allows Ms. Sedar to move on with her life, and the training provisions in the decree will hopefully prevent such problems from arising in the future.”

“When there is a conflict between religion and workplace practices, solutions can often be low or no cost, if you approach it flexibly and creatively,” said San Francisco District Office Director, Michael Baldonado. “Don’t leave your supervisors and management in doubt about how to respond to a request for accommodation. Make it clear that failing to accommodate sincerely held religious beliefs may put the company in violation of the law.”

Supercuts is owned by Regis Corporation (NYSE:RGS), which operates salons worldwide under the trade names Supercuts, Regis Salons, MasterCuts, SmartStyle, Cost Cutters and Sassoon. According to the company websites, www.regiscorp.com and www.supercuts.com, Regis owned, franchised or held ownership interest in over 12,700 locations worldwide and the Supercuts salon chain has 2,100 locations. In August 2009, the EEOC’s Memphis District Office also settled a lawsuit against Regis Corp. doing business as Smartstyle for failing to accommodate an employee who observed Sabbath on Sundays.

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

Captain’s Galley Settles EEOC Male-on-Male Sexual Harassment Suit via EEOC.gov

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Huntersville Seafood, Inc., doing business as Captain’s Galley restaurant, will pay $86,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced late yesterday.

The settlement marks the resolution of the EEOC’s lawsuit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Peter Economos v. Huntersville Seafood Inc., d/b/a Captain’s Galley; in the Western District of North Carolina, Civil Action 3:10-cv-00624), which charged that Peter Economos and other male employees were sexually harassed by a male coworker at Captain’s Galley, a seafood restaurant in Huntersville, N.C.  Specifically, the EEOC said that Economos and other male employees were touched on the buttocks, nipples, and testicles and were subjected to almost daily sexual gestures and comments between 2007 and 2008.  Despite complaints Economos and the other employees made to the restaurant’s owner, the harassment continued and after Economos complained about the harassment, he was ultimately discharged, the EEOC charged.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  When an employer terminates or disciplines an employee because the employee complains about workplace discrimination, the employer further violates Title VII’s anti-retaliation provision. 

In addition to paying $86,000 in monetary damages to Economos and three other former male employees, the three-year consent decree settling the case provides, among other things, for sexual harassment training for managers and employees; requires Captain’s Galley to adopt a policy preventing sexual harassment; and requires that the restaurant report information about its employment practices and any sexual harassment complaints periodically to the EEOC.  

“This settlement is a great result for Mr. Economos and the other victims of the harassment,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “This case serves as a reminder to employers that sexual harassment can occur between employees of the same sex and must be addressed if it occurs,” Barnes continued.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment.  Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at http://www.eeoc.gov.

3M to Pay $3 Million to Settle EEOC Age Discrimination Suit via EEOC.gov

MINNEAPOLIS — Global technology giant 3M (NYSE: MMM) has agreed to pay $3 million to a class of former employees and implement preventive measures to resolve a nationwide age discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC’s suit charged that 3M unlawfully laid off hundreds of employees over the age of 45 during a series of reductions in force (RIFs) from July 1, 2003 through Dec. 31, 2006. 3M laid off many highly paid older employees, among others, apparently to save money and cut workers in salaried positions up to the level of director, the agency said. The EEOC also asserted that older employees were denied leadership training and laid off to make way for younger leaders. The agency’s investigation found an employee e-mail describing then-CEO Jim McNerney’s “vision for leadership development” as “we should be developing 30 year olds with General Manager potential” and “He wants us to tap into the youth as participants in the leadership development.”

Age discrimination violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which protects people aged 40 and older from employment discrimination. The EEOC filed both the lawsuit and proposed consent decree resolving the suit simultaneously in U.S. District Court for Minnesota. The investigation, led by EEOC Investigator Scott Doughtie, involved coordinated efforts by EEOC’s San Francisco, Chicago and New York offices. 

Pending judicial approval, the consent decree provides that 3M will pay $3 million in monetary relief to approximately 290 former employees. In addition, 3M has agreed to implement a review process for termination decisions and training on how to prevent age bias. The company will also post openings for positions it had not advertised previously, to enable older employees to apply. 3M will report on its compliance, provide RIF information to the EEOC over the next three years, and post a notice about the settlement.

“The law requires employers to base employment decisions upon each person’s strengths and talents instead of relying upon generalized assumptions calculated around an employee’s age,” said Michael Baldonado, district director of the EEOC’s San Francisco office, which spearheaded the investigation.

EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo said, “This consent decree is the result of productive and thoughtful negotiations with 3M. In addition to providing meaningful monetary relief for hundreds of former 3M employees, the settlement contains important preventive measures, including company policy changes and training designed to provide older people equal opportunities in the workplace.”

Tamayo noted that this case was developed cooperatively with the law firm of Sprenger + Lang of Washington, D.C., which earlier filed age discrimination suits covering additional issues against 3M in Minnesota state and federal courts. In the state court case, Whitaker et al. v. 3M, the parties filed a settlement agreement in March of this year, which is pending final court approval, on behalf of about 7,000 current and former employees. The federal case was filed on behalf of about 135 people, most of whom are ex-employees. The 290 ex-employees eligible for relief in the EEOC case are not eligible for relief under either of the private suits.

According to its website, 3M is a $27 billion diversified global technology company headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., and one of 30 companies that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

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

Pepsi Settles EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit – EEOC Press Release

 SAN FRANCISCO — The Pepsi  Bottling Group, Inc. (NYSE: PBG) agreed to pay $120,000 and implement  preventive measures to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the  U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced  today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Pepsi terminated Eldridge Davis, a  driver at its Hayward, Calif., facility, for “job abandonment and  violation of the company attendance policy,” even though Davis had followed  proper procedure to inform his supervisor and the company that he could not  finish his route due to his disability and needed to take medical leave.

Davis, age 48, had worked for Pepsi since October 1996  and was promoted to driver in December 1999.

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)  prohibits disability discrimination and requires employers to make reasonable  accommodations to employees with disabilities. This settlement resolves EEOC v. Pepsi Bottling Group, Inc., CV 09-4594 EMC, filed in 2009 in  U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Under the terms of the consent decree settling  the suit, Pepsi agreed to implement training on anti-discrimination laws, post a  notice at the work site on the settlement and other injunctive relief, in  addition to paying Davis  $120,000.

“Medical  leave is a widely recognized accommodation, and in Mr. Davis’s case, could  easily have been granted, avoiding the loss of a valuable and experienced  employee,” said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney  William R. Tamayo. “Since recent  amendments to the ADA  have broadened the definition of disability, forward-thinking employers may  want to re-evaluate their policies on workplace accommodations. Studies show that reasonable accommodations  are frequently no- or low-cost, with the added benefit of improving  productivity and morale, reducing turnover and building a diverse and loyal work  force.”

According  to the company’s web site, http://www.pbg.com, Somers, N.Y.-based The Pepsi  Bottling Group, Inc. is the world’s largest manufacturer, seller and  distributor of Pepsi-Cola beverages, with operations in the United States, Mexico,  Canada, Russia, Spain,  Turkey and Greece and more  than 70,000 employees worldwide. The  company produces and sells more than 1.7 billion cases of beverages each year.

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