The EEOC recently reached a $20 million settlement in a race discrimination case with pharmacy giant Walgreen Co. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleges that Walgreen denied promotions to black managers and pharmacists because of their race. Instead, according to the suit, Walgreen steered African-American employees into jobs at underperforming stores in predominantly black neighborhoods.
While the initial complaints concerned 20 employees in St. Louis, Tampa, Detroit and Kansas City, the court soon made this a class-action suit with over 10,000 plaintiffs. EEOC sources say that Walgreen engaged in similar practices nationwide against African-American employees.
The suit was combined with a 2003 suit alleging similar violations, to form a class action suit with 10,000 or more plaintiffs.
After settling the Walgreen suit for $20 million, EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp had conciliatory words for the retail giant. “We commend Walgreen for working cooperatively with us to reach an amicable settlement of this case without protracted litigation.” Earp said, “We believe this is a satisfactory resolution for all parties.”
Walgreen denies the allegations made in both suits.
Walgreens’ CEO, Jeffrey A. Rein, said, “We are pleased to reach a resolution that is consistent with our past and future diversity and equal opportunity objectives. Our company was built on principles of fairness and equality, and we do not tolerate discrimination in any aspect of employment including store assignment, compensation and promotion opportunities. In fact, we’re a drugstore industry leader when it comes to the employment and promotion of African American managers and pharmacists.”
The Walgreen attorneys added, “Walgreens is a rapidly growing company with lots of opportunity for its employees. We look forward to working with Walgreens to promote fair and equal employment opportunities for all employees.”
The suit against Walgreen sought back pay for the employees plus compensation for “emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life and humiliation.” It also seeks an injunction barring Walgreen from engaging in further discrimination.
This is just one in a series of settlements for race discrimination this year.
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, the company denied Hispanic employees 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.
In January, 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.
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.
Target operates more than 1,500 stores in 47 states, including 175 SuperTarget stores. As part of the settlement, Target agreed to train employees at the Springfield store.
“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.”
Title VII makes it illegal to deny a person any employment opportunity because of that person’s race or color, sex, religion or national origin. A work environment free from illegal harassment and different treatment based on race are included in the range of such employment opportunities. In addition, Title VII recognizes that persons made to work in an intolerable environment may be constructively discharged, or compelled to resign their employment. Finally, it is illegal to retaliate against someone because he has made a complaint of illegal discrimination.
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A new revision to the labor laws in Missouri helps to define just what the liability is for employers who hire contractors or subcontractors to do work on their premises. The rule is that any employer or company that has this work done at one of their work sites by a contractor or subcontractor is liable for them and their employees if they are hurt or killed on the site.
The distinction in the revision, though, is that the contractor or subcontractor must be doing work is that is deemed a normal part of your company’s business. So that means that they cannot be doing something, such as fixing the kitchen or repairing the bathroom, that wouldn’t be considered an integral part of your day to day operations. If you ran an office that did HR work for other companies, say, then the contractor or subcontractor would have to be in your offices working in some capacity toward giving other companies HR consultation.
That is an important distinction made in the way very specifically. It says that this liability does not count when the independent contractor is building, erecting, altering, demolishing, or repairing anything on the premises. The liability in that case for when the independent contractor’s employees get hurt lies with the independent contractor.
The whole question of liability is crucial in workers’ comp because it determines who could be paying disability payments of death benefits for years after the accident takes place. What happens then is that that person’s workers’ comp insurance could get more expensive because of a big claim. And that lead to years of higher costs for workers’ comp insurance coverage for whoever is found liable for the injured employee of the independent contractor. Now you are starting to see the importance of this labor law distinction.
As I was saying, such is even the case of Missouri, and Missouri and Mississippi don’t even touch as states on the map! But the common ground here is the federal labor law that encouraged all of the individual states to follow suit and say: Report your new hires to us or face some consequences.
In Missouri though, the Department of Revenue—the agency in charge of new hire reporting in the state—allows employers to have 20 days to report their new hires. Those 20 days start from the time that the employee has their first day, or the day that they sign their W-4 form, whichever comes first.
In Missouri, they are flexible too when it comes to how you can report your new hire info. You can either send in a copy of that W-4 form, or you can create your own new hire form or use one from a trusty human resource product provider.
Either way, the form you use must have the employee’s name, address, and Social Security number on it. It must also have your name of your company, its address, and its federal employer identification code. On top of this, it should be on the form what day the employee started, or what day they signed their W-4 form (again, whichever comes first.)
You can mail these forms in to the Missouri Department of Revenue at their office in Jefferson City, Missouri, or you can fax a copy of the form in to their office. It is also possible to send in an electronic copy to the Revenue Department on a special cartridge that you have to get from the Department of Revenue.
It’s your choice, employers, in the state of Missouri, when it comes to how and on what form you send in your new hire reports.