November 6, 2006
SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT EEOC LITIGATION ACTIVITY
- Allstate Insurance Company: Judge E. Richard Webber of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in St. Louis ruled October 19 that Allstate Insurance Company’s one-year moratorium on rehiring its former sales agents had an adverse impact on older agents. The EEOC’s lawsuit alleged that in 2000 Allstate terminated its sales agents, offered to make them independent contractors, and refused to rehire them in other positions as employees for one year. Because more than 90 percent of the agents were 40 years of age or older, the EEOC said the rehire policy violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The judge granted the EEOC’s motion for summary judgment on the issue of whether Allstate’s rehire policy affected workers age 40 or older disproportionately. The EEOC considers the decision particularly important since it is one of the first court decisions applying last year’s Supreme Court ruling that the ADEA does extend to disparate impact cases.
- Medegen Medical Products: Scottsdale-based Medegen Medical Products has agreed to pay $634,595 to resolve claims it laid off eight older workers from its Denver facility because of their age. The EEOC filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado in September claiming the company unfairly targeted older workers for termination in 2003. The lawsuit alleged that shortly after the eight workers were laid off, the company advertised openings for positions that some of the terminated employees could have performed. Ages of the laid off employees ranged from 49 to 63. The company, a provider of medical devices and components to the health care industry, said the layoffs were the result of difficult business conditions.
- ExxonMobil Corporation: The EEOC has sued ExxonMobil in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas alleging its mandatory age-60 retirement policy for corporate pilots may violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The agency alleges that at least since 1999, the company subjected its corporate pilots to involuntary retirement when they reached age 60, despite their health or qualifications.
- Fiserv Inc.: Wisconsin-based Fiserv Inc. will pay approximately $175,725 to settle a lawsuit brought against it by the EEOC in 2005. The suit claimed the company violated the Americans With Disabilities Act when it refused to allow a wheelchair-bound employee to work full-time from home. The former employee had worked for the company until November 2001 when he was injured in a car accident. The company allowed him to work from home on a part-time basis when he returned to work in August 2002, according to the EEOC. But when the employee’s mother with whom he lived needed to relocate to another state in August 2003, the company turned down the employee’s request to work remotely full time. The EEOC said the company had people similar to him in job duties working remotely from other states, and that it should have allowed the same for him when he moved out-of-state.
- Everdry Waterproofing: A federal jury returned a $585,000 verdict in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the EEOC against Everdry Waterproofing and Everdry Management Services, Inc., a national residential basement waterproofing company, on behalf of a class of 13 Rochester, New York young women, mostly teenage girls still in high school. The lawsuit alleged the harassment took the form of egregious acts of verbal and physical sexual conduct on the part of the companies’ managers and salesmen. The EEOC also claimed that Everdry failed to take necessary steps to stop the harassment, despite complaints to local and national management. The jury rendered its verdict after a nearly two-week trial. The verdict provided $325,000 to compensate the women for lost wages and emotional pain and suffering, and punitive damages against the company in the amount of $260,000. The EEOC will also ask the court to award injunctive relief designed to prevent future discrimination.
- Horseshoe Lake Golf Course: A Washington golf course has agreed to pay $367,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against it by the EEOC. The agency alleged the owner and general manager of the golf course subjected female applicants and workers to vulgar sexual comments and physical touching, according to the consent decree filed in the Western Washington U.S. District Court in Seattle. The golf owner allegedly ordered female employees to wear revealing attire, and made constant comments about sex. The golf course owner will pay $267,000 to the eight women who filed the EEOC charges, and set aside another $100,000 for a trust to compensate other women who might also have been subjected to the harassment.
- Acapex Management: A lawsuit filed by the EEOC against California-based Acapex Management in the U.S. District Court in Denver in 2005, has been settled. The company agreed to pay $190,000 to resolve claims that one of its employees at the Federal Center in Lakewood, Colorado had allegedly raped a women who also worked for the janitorial services company. The female worker alleged that after she rejected the sexual advances of a supervisor, he raped her twice. The lawsuit also alleged that he threatened to have his friends retaliate against her and her family if she reported him. The company denied any guilt. The EEOC also said the company’s training, policies and procedures were inadequate to inform employees and encourage them to report any potential harassment.
- Cigna Corporation: The EEOC has reached a settlement on an employment discrimination lawsuit against Cigna Corporation’s customer service call center in Phoenix for alleged pregnancy discrimination. The EEOC claimed that Cigna’s call center discriminated against a female applicant by refusing to hire her as a customer service associate upon learning she was pregnant. Connecticut General Life Insurance Co., a subsidiary of Cigna, will pay $50,000 to the applicant and has agreed to review its policies and provide training to employees at the service center regarding pregnancy discrimination.
- National Envelope Company: The EEOC has announced that a subsidiary of National Envelope Company settled a claim by three workers who alleged they were underpaid because they were African American. The company will pay the employees a total of $78,000 plus $21,500 to their attorneys to settle the claims. The EEOC said the African American men, who were all shift supervisors, earned less than white counterparts who had less experience.