As many pundits expected, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is stepping up its litigation of discrimination claims. In one week, the EEOC settled two lawsuits totaling $180,000. Although the financial recoveries may not be significant to many employers, having the EEOC’s nose in your business is never a good thing and can lead to protracted litigation for years to come.
On June 7, 2010, the EEOC announced that it settled a case with a Harley Davidson motorcycle dealership where the company agreed to pay $55,000 to settle a Title VII sex discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the EEOC. In addition to the payment, the dealership was ordered to revise its equal employment policy and complaint procedure; conduct annual sexual discrimination and retaliation training; post a notice stating the terms of the settlement and how to complain about discrimination. On June 9, 2010, the EEOC announced that it settled a Title VII race discrimination and age discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) against the Atlanta office of Spencer Reed Group, LLC, a Kansas-based staffing firm for $125,000. In addition to the monetary relief, the settlement also requires the company to provide EEO trainings, submit reports to the EEOC, and post anti-discrimination notices.
These two employers will now have the EEOC watching their very basic employment functions such as training of staff, and will be required to file periodic reports with the agency from which additional litigation could ensue. In addition, the employees of these companies will now be apprised of the settlements and mandates placed on the company by the EEOC. These companies should expect more administrative charges and will have to strictly comply with the respective decrees. Employers that have a very good and consistent EEO training program and complaint process need not be alarmed by these settlements. However, if you can’t quite remember how many of your current employees are EEO trained, or the last time your employee handbook or complaint process was updated, I would suggest you contact your labor and employment attorney to address those matters before the EEOC does.