The EEOC recently settled a sex discrimination suit against an Ohio auto dealer for $2.3 million, charging that the dealership refused to hire even the most highly-qualified women.
Thirty-nine qualified female auto sales people were denied jobs at 11 dealerships owned by Jeff Wyler, including Jeff Wyler Eastgate, Inc. of Cincinnati. The suit alleged that the dealerships refused to hire any women for auto sales positions, acting as an integrated unit.
A consent decree under the settlement requires the auto dealerships to make job offers to the class members. In addition, the company will institute an equal employment opportunity program for which managers will be accountable. It will also introduce manager training in the anti-discrimination requirements under the law.
It is disturbing that women still face the barriers and stereotypes they faced 40 years ago when Title VII was enacted,” according to EEOC Regional Attorney Jacqueline McNair. “We are pleased that the parties in this case reached an amicable resolution with important training and policy change provisions.”
This suit was unusual because the employer refused to hire women, but apparently complied with the other portions of anti-discrimination laws.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion or sex. Under this law, employers may not discriminate in hiring, training, promotions, discipline, benefits, compensation, or termination against any of the protected groups.
Despite the fact that this law is more than 43 years old, many companies still discriminate against women. Often, such discrimination is paired with discrimination based on race, color or nationality. For example, Woodward Governor in Illinois recently paid $5 million to settle two class action suits alleging discrimination at its plants in Rockford and Rockton. 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.
The company recently settled a suit that the Woodward Governor Company discriminated in pay, promotions and training against African-American, Hispanic and Asian employees, as well as 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.
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 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.
All of the companies mentioned in this article deny any wrongdoing.
According to a lawsuit filed by the EEOC, employees at AK Steel Corporation endured a widespread racist and threatening displays for years. These included racial slurs and epithets, open displays of Ku Klux Klan videos in the employee break area and the display of nooses and swastikas in work areas open to African-American employees. Employees also circulated literature of the Populist Party, headed by candidate David Duke, a KKK leader.
Some of the graffiti included threats, including a message to “kill” blacks and insulting threats. There was also Nazi graffiti, including statements such as “I love Adolf.”
The racially-charged climate was so pervasive that the EEOC said AK Steel managers had independent knowledge of the events, aside from any complaints.
AK Steel is a Fortune 500 company based in Middletown, Ohio that produces carbon steel and stainless steel products. The company had nearly $6 billion in sales last year and has major plants and offices in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.
The $600,000 goes to 7 AK Steel employees, plus the estate of Gerald Patterson. Patterson originally filed the suit, but died before it was settled. In addition, all AK Steele employees will receive annual training to recognize and prevent discrimination based on race.
Gerald Patterson was hired by AK Steel in 1999, and filed the suit in 2003. Patterson was one of only about 20 black employees out of 1,950 at the Butler plant.
“The racial harassment alleged in this case, including the use of derogatory ethnic terms, nooses displayed in the work environment and disciplining those who complained of race discrimination, represents some of the most severe misconduct this office has seen,” said EEOC Attorney Jacqueline McNair. “Through the consent decree resolving this case, EEOC will monitor AK Steel’s treatment of employees to ensure a workplace environment free of harassment and race discrimination. Further, we believe the sizable monetary relief and the proposed training of employees on anti-discrimination policies may serve as a deterrent to future acts of blatant racism.”
The company denies any wrongdoing and says they are settling the case merely to avoid a protracted and expensive lawsuit against the federal government.
Shortly after Patterson filed the suit, AK Steel announced the departure of Richard Wardrop, Jr., the company’s former Chairman and CEO. Wardrop’s severance package was up to $51.7 million, according to an SEC filing. In addition, President John Hritz received a severance package of $ 11 million.
The company also reported that 475 workers had been laid off, including 200 in Butler.
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.
While the allegations of discrimination at AK Steel are unusually severe, they are not the only company recently accused of discrimination based on race.
In January, major retailer Target Corp. paid $775,000 for racial harassment to settle a suit. The suit alleged that Target Violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by creating a racially hostile work environment at the Springfield, Pennsylvania Target store.
Target operates more than 1,500 stores in 47 states. As part of the settlement, Target agreed to train employees at the Springfield store.
In the suit, the EEOC said that Michael Hill was an apprentice in training to become a store manager. He was subjected to racial harassment by a white store manager. When Hill complained, he was retaliated against, leaving him no choice but to resign.
“We are pleased that the parties could reach an amicable resolution of this matter,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Jacqueline McNair. “We expect the proposed training and emphasis on anti-discrimination policies to create a more employee-friendly work environment at Target’s facility.”
All of the companies mentioned in this article deny any wrongdoing.
Ohio state discrimination posters are required to be in every workplace in Ohio. These posters outline what rights workers enjoy under both state and federal anti-discrimination laws. The Ohio state discrimination posters should be placed in an area where all employees will be able to easily see them.
The Ohio state discrimination posters let employees know that they can’t be discriminated against because of their religion, race, color, national origin, sex, age, ancestry, and disability. It’s important to point out that people that are disabled don’t have to receive special treatment but they do deserve reasonable accommodations that will allow them to perform a job.
The rights which are explained on the Ohio state discrimination posters are backed-up by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. Not only does the Commission investigate claims of discrimination, they also educate and train employees and employers to help end all discrimination in the workplace.
If a person is a victim of discrimination that person should file a complaint with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. After the complaint is filed it will be handed over to an investigator. The investigator will talk to both the person filing the claim and the employer that is being accused. Voluntary mediation will be offered to both parties. If they don’t agree to mediation then the investigator will gather evidence and pass the findings on to his/her supervisor. It will then go through the chain of command until it reaches the Commissioners and then a decision will be rendered. Under no circumstances can the employee be discriminated against for filing the complaint.
Anti-discrimination laws are useless if nobody knows about them. This is why it is so important that the Ohio state discrimination posters be displayed in the workplace. These posters contain very valuable information and must be made available to the employees in Ohio.
When it comes to discrimination, every state has its own set of laws that governs the protection of individuals’ rights. In Ohio, there are many types of discrimination that are against the law. I found that these types include discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, age or ancestry.
It’s important to note that there have been cases in Ohio where potential employees have filed complaint against an employer based on age discrimination wherein the employee won the case. Ohio further makes it important for employers not to discriminate based on age because the state allows those potential employees to receive compensatory damages (for pain and suffering) as well as punitive damages, which are intended to punish the employers.
If an employee in Ohio wishes to file a discrimination law, he or she needs to contact the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) or the federal administrative agency, otherwise known as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The OCRC and the EEOC have a “work-sharing agreement,” which basically means that they cooperate in order to work on behalf of the client. I learned, then, that you only need to file a claim at one of the two agencies but you need to indicate that the complaint should be “cross-filed” with the other agency.
I also read that while the federal law only covers employers that have 15 or more employees, in Ohio, the State will cover employees with 4-14 employees. I also heard that if an employee wants to file a complaint against the employer, he or she must do so in 180 days of the alleged anti-discrimination violation. It’s likely also a good idea to obtain the aid of an attorney if you are considering filing a complaint against an employer. The OCRC can also assist you with finding an attorney to you.
The Ohio labor laws including the current discrimination information is available on the Ohio Complete Labor Law poster.