EEOC Case: Gender and Disability Discrimination
A female worker with a disability was demoted for questioning why her male counterpart earned a higher hourly pay rate. Then the employer refused to provide reasonable accommodation.[wc_divider style=”dotted” line=”single” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=””]
Eloisa Schlaff worked at Taprite for 15 years, moving from an assembly position to a Quality Control Inspector. Then one day she learned that at least one male counterpart made more than three dollars per hour more than she did for the same work.
She was not amused.
Schlaff asked her supervisor about the difference between her pay and the male coworkers’ pay.
READ MORE: Can Employees Discuss Pay?[/wc_box]
After stating her concerns about gender-based pay discrimination to management, the company demoted her and lowered her pay!
Schlaff, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome, suddenly found herself in an assembly position that required repetitive tasks and strenuous physical movement that exacerbated her medical condition.
Did Eloisa Schlaff give up and go home?
She went to work in the assembly role where she experienced severe pain and swelling in her hands caused by the repetitive motion.
She informed her supervisor of her medical condition and requested to be reassigned to work she could perform as a reasonable accommodation, but the company refused her request.
After receiving Schlaff’s complaint, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), filed a gender, disability and retaliation-based discrimination lawsuit against Taprite.
The EEOC claimed that Taprite’s actions were unlawful and deprived Eloisa Schlaff of equal employment opportunities based on her disabilities (arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome), but it got messy in court.[wc_box color=”danger” text_align=”left”]
Lessons Learned from EEOC v. Taprite
- Audit pay rates by job function and classification to identify and correct disparities between workers performing comparable work.
- Avoid taking punitive action against workers after they have expressed concerns about workplace discrimination.
- Make a good-faith effort to understand workers’ requests for reasonable accommodation, and think creatively about solutions. Collaboration and cooperation go a long way with both employees and the EEOC.
- Train managers on EEOC requirements annually.
- Develop internal protocols for consistently addressing complaints of discrimination and requests for reasonable accommodation.
Monetary fine: $72,500
- Ensure that its employment policies conform with the law.
- Implement training to addresses sex and disability discrimination.
- Post EEO notices at the workplace.
Taprite denied wrongdoing, claiming they lacked “sufficient information to form a belief as to the truth of the factual allegations”. In other words, they were calling bull on Schlaff’s claims and didn’t believe Schlaff’s disability was legitimate.
The company slung some mud around, too, claiming Schlaff’s job performance was not satisfactory. They also denied refusing Schlaff’s request for reasonable accommodation. However, even one of Eloisa’s male coworkers could recommend the quality of her work:
“Eloisa has a great eye for inspection and a vast knowledge of Quality Control Procedures. She has a strong background in Lean Manufacturing and is a pleasure to work alongside of.”
In the end, the EEOC arm-wrestled Taprite into a settlement that avoided a judge’s ruling on the company’s culpability.[wc_box color=”secondary” text_align=”left”]
Why Do Employers Retaliate? READ MORE[/wc_box]
Eloisa Schlaff is a nominee for the GovDocs 2015 Workplace Hero Award for asserting her rights and resolving workplace challenges in a constructive manner. Do you know of someone who you consider to be a Workplace Hero? Nominate them here!
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