On January 21, 2013, I reported on the EEOC’s aggressive Strategic Enforcement Plan for 2013. As noted in my post, one of the 6 major priorities of the plan includes:
Preserving Access to the Legal System. The EEOC will target policies and practices that discourage or prohibit individuals from exercising their rights under employment discrimination statutes, or that impede the EEOC’s investigative or enforcement efforts.
In other words, the EEOC intends to focuses its efforts on workplace retaliation. Now, we know that the EEOC is doing more than playing lip service through its Strategic Enforcement Plan; a recent settlement in the U.S District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee demonstrates that the EEOC is actively pursuing retaliation claims.
In EEOC v. Cappo Management XX, Inc., 12-CV-0239 (M.D. Tenn. Jan. 25, 2013 ), the EEOC brought suit against Cappo, which owns and operates Nissan car dealerships. The EEOC alleged that the defendant retaliated against 3 employees by terminating them for making sexual harassment complaints. While the defendant denied the EEOC’s allegations, the parties settled the dispute, entering into a Consent Decree. As part of the settlement, the defendant paid $85,000 in damages. In addition, the defendant was required to develop a written policy regarding harassment and retaliation, conduct training and post notices.
The EEOC, through a public press release, announced the settlement in this case, undoubtedly to make certain that employers take heed of its efforts to enforce retaliation claims.
Should you have questions regarding EEOC investigations or wish to discuss your company’s employment practices, please contact the members of Thompson Burton’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution team.