According to a suit filed by the EEOC, a Colorado Springs employer was an equal opportunity bigot. Professional Transit Management, doing business as Springs Transit, maintained a racially hostile workforce for employees of African American, Hispanic and Asian heritage. The company was ordered to pay $450,000 to be divided between 6 employees.
The EEOC claims that employees and supervisors routinely used ethnic slurs for African American, Asian and Hispanic employees. On one occasion, a worker commented that it should be legal to shoot men, women and children who are Mexican, African American or Chinese. The employee added, “If I had my way I’d gas them [referring to Black employees] like Hitler did the Jews.” According to papers filed in court, the management was aware of the abusive behavior and did nothing to stop it.
Other threats against minorities included references to “shooting” them, “killing” them and “gassing” them. Many of these remarks were made in front of supervisors who did nothing to stop them. This provoked the court to determine that the company was aware of the hostile environment, and did nothing to remedy the situation.
“Race discrimination at work has been illegal in this country for over 40 years,” said EEOC District Director Chester Bailey. Bailey’s Phoenix District includes Colorado. “Employees should know that they can file charges with the EEOC because of job discrimination.”
In addition to paying $450,000, Springs Transit is required to implement an equal employment opportunity training program for non-supervisory employees. The company must also implement an additional program for supervisors and for those in human resources at the firm. These steps will ensure that every employee in the company receives training.
Nancy A. Weeks, a trial attorney in the EEOC’s Denver Field Office, which brought the suit, said, “The egregiousness of the threats and racial and national origin harassment in this case is stunning. We are pleased that the minority employees at Springs Transit have been compensated in some way for the terrible treatment they endured.”
EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill, added: “The EEOC takes seriously its obligation to ensure that every employee works in an environment free of harassment and racially-based threats. We are pleased that Springs Transit will be implementing a training program for all of its employees to make sure that this type of hostile environment will not occur in the future.”
While many employers consider discrimination based on race a thing of the past, it is still prevalent in some workplaces. In 2006, the EEOC received 27,238 complaints alleging race-based discrimination, accounting for 36 percent of the agency’s complaints in the private sector. Historically, race-based charges are the most frequent type of filing with EEOC offices nationwide.
Earlier this year, Quietflex Manufacturing Company, L.P. recently paid $2.8 million for discriminating against Hispanic employees. The lawsuit alleges that 78 Latino employees were discriminated against in the company’s transfer policies, and in pay.
Quietflex produces flexible air conditioning ducts and components. The company has repeatedly denied all wrongdoing in the case.
According to the suit, Hispanic employees at the company were denied higher-paying jobs in departments with better working conditions. After a work stoppage to protest the discrimination, the EEOC alleges that Quietflex illegally retaliated against the employees by terminating them. All the employees were rehired shortly afterward.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is illegal to deny any person employment due to race, color, sex, religion or national origin. That includes providing a work environment free from illegal harassment and different treatment based on race. In addition, Title VII recognizes that a company that creates an intolerable environment essentially forces the employee to resign. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against someone because he or she has made a complaint of illegal discrimination.
All of the companies mentioned in this article deny any wrongdoing.
An Illinois firm recently settled an EEOC suit alleging discrimination against African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and women. Woodward Governor paid $5 million to two class action suits alleging discrimination at its plants in Rockford, Illinois and Rockton, Illinois. The company is based in Fort Collins, Colorado.
According to promotional material issued by the company, Woodward Governor is “the world’s largest independent designer, manufacturer, and service provider of energy control solutions for aircraft engines, industrial engines and turbines, power generation, and process automation equipment.” Woodward has approximately 1,100 employees at the Rockford and Rockton plants.
The Illinois plants are just two of 25 facilities worldwide including Australia, Brazil, China, Indian, Japan, Korea, and Poland. The company also has 10 plants in the U.S.
On May 8, 2003, a number of employees filed a class action suit against the Woodward Governor Company charging that the firm discriminated in pay, promotions and training against African-American, Hispanic and Asian employees. This violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex, religion or national origin.
On October 4, 2006, the EEOC filed a similar claim on behalf of a number of employees, alleging that the company’s discriminatory practices included limiting opportunities for women. These actions violate Title VII, as well as the Equal Pay Act, which requires that women be paid the same amount as men for work that is substantially the same.
The two suits were consolidated by the court.
In filing the consent decree, Judge Philip Reinhard of the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois established a $2.4 million settlement for the minority employees. The award covers all minority employees who worked at the company’s Rockford or Rockton plants since May 1999. The judge established a separate $2.6 million fund to be shared by female employees who worked at Woodward Governor’s Illinois plants since June 2002.
The decree contains a number of other requirements. Woodward Governor must hire an industrial organizational psychologist to perform an analysis of production jobs that were an issue in the suit. The psychologist must develop written job descriptions, performance appraisals and a comprehensive review process for the positions. Once that is complete, Woodward Governor is required to review the job assignments of current production employees and adjust them if necessary.
The decree also authorizes the appointment of Nancy B. Kreiter to oversee Woodward’s implementation and compliance with the decree. Kreiter, of Chicago, has provided similar decrees with other EEOC lawsuits on sex discrimination against Mitsubishi Motors and the Dial Corporation. Kreiter will provide annual reports assessing Woodward’s compliance with the decree.
Woodward must implement a procedure for investigating complaints of discrimination under the agreement. In addition, the company must train all employees regarding the discrimination laws and the complaint procedure. It will report the results twice annually to Kreiter, the EEOC and the attorney representing the plaintiffs. These reviews must include information on promotion decisions, compensation and job training for employees.
These severe restrictions have led some pundits to the conclusion that Woodward Governor’s actions were especially severe.
“The EEOC is very satisfied with both the monetary and non-monetary relief provided for in the consent decree,” said EEOC Attorney John Hendrickson. “The $5 million settlement fund provides for significant monetary relief, and the appointment of Nancy Kreiter to oversee implementation of the decree ensures that the decree will bring about comprehensive changes at Woodward resulting in equal opportunity and treatment for all of Woodward’s employees.”
The Director of the EEOC Chicago District Office, John Rowe, who managed the agency’s pre-suit administrative investigation of Woodward Governor, said, “Our sense now is that Woodward Governor is determined to make the aspirations memorialized in the consent decree part of daily life at the company. With that, with the work of Ms. Kreiter, and with the good will of everyone involved, the future looks bright for everyone at Woodward Governor.” Rowe led the agency’s pre-suit investigation of the company.
EEOC Attorney Ann Henry, added, “The job analyses provided for by the consent decree should position Woodward to make future job assignment and compensation decisions based on job-related, non-discriminatory criteria and should go a long way in assuring a discrimination-free work environment at the company.” Henry tried the case along with Attorney. Gregory Gochanour.
A recent Washington, D.C. summit aims to reverse discrimination against Asian Pacific Americans in Colorado and throughout the nation. Asian Pacific Americans currently comprise 4.8% of the federal workforce. Yet, they occupy just 3.2% of the management positions.
US Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao is the first Asian American woman to serve as a cabinet secretary. She leads the Department of Labor, which employs a record number of Asian Pacific Americans in non-career positions. In this case, non-career positions are those that are not political appointments.
US Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao is doing her part to eliminate discrimination in the workplace. Chao recently presided over the Sixth Annual Asian Pacific American Federal Career Advancement Summit in Washington D.C. Held on May 3, the event boasted a record number of attendees. The event highlighted federal job opportunities throughout Colorado and the nation for residents of Asian Pacific descent.
Every employer knows that discrimination is illegal under the Colorado discrimination laws. Yet, too few do anything to actively prevent discrimination.
“This summit is a networking and training opportunity for Asian Pacific Americans seeking to advance in the federal sector,” said Secretary Chao. “The federal government is the single largest employer in the United States, and new job opportunities open up almost every day. In the next 10 years, 60% of the federal work force will be eligible for retirement.”
The summit was held in cooperation with the US Office of Personnel Management. Its goal was to attract minority employees, while helping Asian Pacific Americans in the federal government build their career skills. The even included a plenary session, executive coaching by senior managers, and a number of workshops. An exhibit hall provided resources, and personal motivational testimonies provided inspiration and tips on how to progress in the workplace. The ten workshops included topics such as developing management potential, attracting effective employees and keeping top talent. For those new to the workforce, workshops included skills training in resume writing and interviewing.
The first annual summit was held in 2002 with just one federal partner and 150 attendees. This year, a record 1,300 people registered for the event, setting a new record. There were 31 exhibitors this year, many of whom were highlighting employment opportunities at their agencies.
Being an employee in the state of Colorado means that you have a right to be free from physical, racial, sexual or religious harassment or abuse at your work. Any type of harassment could be considered a violation of state and or federal discrimination laws. Such laws are put into place to protect individuals from unfair or unequal treatment in the course of employment. These laws apply to not only employers but also employment agencies and labor organizations as well.
Colorado (CO) job discrimination law in the workplace deems that it is unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire, to discharge, to promote or demote, to harass during the course of employment, or to discriminate in matters of compensation against any person otherwise qualified because of disability, race, creed, color, sex, age, national origin, or ancestry, For an employment agency to refuse to list and properly classify for employment or to refer an individual for employment in a known available job for which such individual is otherwise qualified for any of the reasons stated or for a labor organization to exclude any individual otherwise qualified from full membership rights in such labor organization, or to expel any such individual from membership on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, sex, age, national origin, or ancestry.
Employers, employment agencies or labor organizations may not discriminate against or exclude individuals with a disability under Colorado (CO) job discrimination in the workplace. If there is genuinely no reasonable accommodation that the employer can make with regard to the disability, the disability actually disqualifies the applicant from the job, and the disability has a significant impact on the job than such exclusion would not be a violation of the law.
Employment practices covered under Colorado (CO) job discrimination law include, but are not limited to the listing or advertising of jobs, hiring, promoting or demoting, compensation and termination.
Colorado Sexual Discrimination Law in the Workplace follows a state law that is slightly stricter than the Federal Title VII laws. According to the Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 24, Article 34, Part 4, it is illegal in Colorado for employers to discriminate against someone on the basis of gender.
Also according to this statute, an employer is anyone who employs another person including political subdivision, commissions, departments, institutions and school districts and any religious organization that is funded by taxes or other public money. The difference between the Colorado Statutes and the federal Title VII laws is that the federal laws only refer to employers who have fifteen or more employees while in Colorado the law applies to all employers with at least one employee.
Employees under this law are any people who are employed by an employer (as defined above) except people in domestic services of another person. I’ve also found that in Colorado, discrimination isn’t considered an illegal act until a complaint has been file. To file a complaint, the employee must contact the Colorado Civil Rights Division in Denver within six months of the last discriminatory act. Filing a complaint consists of filling out an employment intake form.
The Colorado Civil Rights Division will then investigate the complaint to eventually make a “probably cause” or “no probably cause” determination on the complaint. The first thing they do is draw up a charge of discrimination which you will need to sign and then they send it to the employer in question. The Division then gives the employer a chance to respond to the complaint.
They will also attempt mediation. If that falls through, they will conduct an investigation to make their final determination. Cases that are awarded a “probably cause” determination move to settlement negotiations. If unsuccessful, the Division may issue a Right to Sue form so that you can take the case to the court system.
If you decide that you want to take the case to the courts without going through the Colorado Civil Rights Division investigation, you must go through the EEOC or the Division and directly request a “Right to Sue” notice.
Both employers and employees are responsible for knowing the laws and keep their workplace safe as well as knowing their rights under the laws. More details about the Colorado sexual discrimination laws can be found on the Colorado Complete Labor Law poster.