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The EEOC’s Landmark Sexual Orientation Discrimination Settlement

Elizabeth Newman Law Clerk at Freking Myers & Reul

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission interprets sex discrimination to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Although this position has not always found support in court, the EEOC filed two lawsuits this spring to enforce its interpretation. Jon Allison blogged about it here.

Late last month, the EEOC settled one of these landmark cases. In EEOC v. Pallet Companies d/b/a IFCO Systems, the EEOC alleged that an employee was harassed by her supervisor because of her sexual orientation and that she was fired in retaliation for complaining to her employer. The settlement agreement requires the employer to pay $182,200 in damages to the employee, as well as $20,000 to the Human Rights Campaign.

According to EEOC General Counsel David Lopez, this settlement was the first resolution of a lawsuit challenging sexual orientation discrimination under Title VII. Even though a court did not weigh in on the matter, this historic settlement could indicate that the EEOC’s interpretation is gaining ground. The EEOC received 1,181 complaints of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation last year—a number almost certain to grow. The other lawsuit filed by the EEOC asserting sexual orientation discrimination is still pending in Pennsylvania.

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Fines For Failing To Post Notices About Illegal Discrimination Increased

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is increasing the fine for failing to post required Federal nondiscrimination notices to $525 per violation starting July 5, 2016. Every employer that is covered by Federal discrimination laws is required to post notices in prominent and accessible places where notices to employees and applicants are typically maintained describing the Federal laws prohibiting job discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, equal pay, disability and genetic information. The current fine per violation is $210. Despite the fine, employers continue to violate the posting requirements. 2010 saw the highest number of violations in the last 10 years. Employees who are unsure of their rights should be able to locate and review these notices. If your employer has not complied with the posting requirements, speak up.

EEOC Doubles Fine for Poster Violation – HRWatchdog

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The Bathroom Videotapes

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Last week Achiote’s, a Mexican Restaurant located in Southern California, settled a sexual harassment suit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission involving a manager secretly using his cell phone to videotape male workers going to the bathroom. The victims of the videotaping complained. One called the San Diego police. An Assistant Manager with Achiote’s was charged with disturbing the peace in connection with the videotaping of his coworkers in the bathroom. However, according to the lawsuit, the restaurant retaliated against those who complained by cutting their hours. The lawsuit followed. Retaliation against employees who have complained of sexual harassment is illegal. If you believe you’re experiencing harassment at work, talk to an employment attorney about your rights.

Restaurant Settles EEOC Suit Over Secret Bathroom Videos …

Waiter Reports Secret Bathroom Camera, EEOC Sues …

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UPS Hit With $5.3 Million Dollar Verdict In Hostile Work Environment Case

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Last Thursday a Fayette County, Kentucky jury awarded eight African-American men $5.3 million dollars in a hostile work environment case against UPS. The plaintiffs worked for UPS in Lexington, Kentucky. At trial, evidence was presented that the plaintiffs were routinely subjected to racist comments, including the n-word, jungle bunny and porch monkey. Evidence was presented that an effigy of an African-American UPS driver was hung from the ceiling for four days. The men went to Human Resources several times to complain but things did not improve. Instead, for some, things got worse. The jury found that UPS retaliated against 2 drivers who complained by having managers conduct extended “ride alongs” as a subtle form of intimidation. The lawsuit was filed in 2014. Trial began April 4, 2016. The jury deliberated about 8 hours before rendering the verdict against UPS.

Kentucky jury awards $5.3M in UPS discrimination lawsuit …

Lexington UPS Employees Awarded $5.3 Million In Damages

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U.S. Women’s Soccer Stars Fight For Equal Pay

Katherine Neff

On March 31, 2016, five players from the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing the U.S. Soccer Federation of paying them less than their male counterparts in violation of the Equal Pay Act.

Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn, who are all members of the World Cup championship team, have unsuccessfully tried to negotiate for higher wages through their union. The fact that these players have a collective bargaining agreement, and subsequent memorandum of understanding may have an impact on their Equal Pay Act claims.

The pay disparity between the men’s and women’s teams is astounding. For example, each year, the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams are required to play a minimum of 20 friendly matches. The top five players from the men’s team receive $406,000 in compensation on average per year for these games, compared to the top five women who receive only $72,000. For a World Cup victory, a male U.S. soccer player could earn $390,000, while Lloyd, for example, only earned $75,000 for last year’s World Cup victory. Further, men on the U.S. team earn $69,000 for making the Word Cup roster, while the women only receive $15,000.

Although the men’s World Cup generates more money globally than the women’s event, the U.S. Soccer Federation has forecasted that the men’s U.S. Soccer team will lose approximately $1 million in 2017, while the women’s team will generate a profit of $5.2 million.

We will have to see whether the collective bargaining agreement and/or memorandum of understanding (in which the union agreed to this compensation) will impact the claims alleged by the five players, or if the U.S. Soccer Federation will come to an agreement with the players before either the EEOC or a court weighs in. For more information, read these articles from Forbes, The New York Times and NPR.

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