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.
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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Restaurant chain sued for gender discrimination against male employees’
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Ruby Tuesday posted internal job announcements advertising summer bartender and server positions with company-provided housing, among their locations within a 9-state region (Oregon, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, and Utah). The postings stated that only females would be considered – allegedly because of concerns over housing employees of both genders together.
The company was charged with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964.
Ruby Tuesday has agreed to a three-year consent decree in order to resolve the issue.
Monetary fine: $100,000
- Provide back pay to employees
- Prevent gender-based employment discrimination in temporary and permanent job assignments at all facilities located within 9-state region.
- Provide Title VII training to its employees, managers and supervisors
- Distribute its EEO policy to all employees (present & future) for the duration of the Consent Decree
- Maintain records of any complaints of gender-based discrimination
- Report annually to the EEOC
Lessons Learned from EEOC v. Ruby Tuesday, Inc.
Federal law protects both men and women from gender discrimination. Companies must consider qualified applicants for employment based on their qualifications – not their gender. Denying a qualified applicant a job because of his/her sex is unjust and unlawful, no matter if the discrimination results from a ‘concern’ about housing employees of both genders.[/wc_box] [wc_divider style=”solid” line=”single” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=””]
Mims Distributing Company, Inc. has been ordered to pay $50,000 in order to resolve a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Christopher Alston, a practicing Rastafarian, applied for a job as a delivery driver with Mims. Alston was told that he could have the job if he cut his hair. Alston informed Mims that as a Rastafarian he could not cut his hair. Ultimately Alston did not get the job and the EEOC alleges it was because he would not agree to their request.
Disregarding a person’s deeply held religious belief is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII requires employers to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs as long as it would not pose an undue hardship to the company. The EEOC attempted to reach settlement through its conciliation process first, but when that failed they filed suit.
Mims has agreed to a two-year consent decree in order to resolve the issue. The consent decree requires Mims to create an official religious accommodation policy, to conduct annual training programs on the requirements of Title VII and its ban against religious discrimination, as well as post a copy of its anti-discrimination policy in its facility.
What is a Rastafarian?
Rastafarianism began in 1930s Jamaica. Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican who led a “Back to Africa” movement, predicted there would be a black messiah in Africa. When Ras Tafari, a prince, became Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930 (as Emperor he was called Halie Selassie) the people believed he was the black messiah Marcus Garvey prophesied about. Rastafarians believe that they are one of the twelve tribes of ancient Israel and that God took human form first as Christ the messiah then as Ras Tafari, the black messiah.
Where Do Dreadlocks Come into Play?
People who follow the Rastafarian religion wear dreadlocks because it is a part of the Nazarite Vow. They believe a man’s strength comes from the length of his hair. There is Biblical justification for the style (Leviticus 21:5 “They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard nor make any cuttings in their flesh”) and it is the way some ancient African priests and Israelites wore their hair.
What is a Consent Decree?
A consent decree is defined as ‘an agreement or settlement to resolve a dispute between two parties without admission of guilt.’
What is Undue Hardship?
An undue hardship is an action that places significant difficulty or expense on the employer.
Reasonable accommodation as defined by the U.S. Department of Justice is “any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions.”