Although the EEOC typically does not file lawsuits on behalf of charging parties, the number of lawsuits being filed by the EEOC is on the rise. The EEOC currently has litigation pending based on alleged race, national origin, age and gender discrimination.
- The EEOC has sued Mavis Discount Tire, claiming that Mavis did not hire women as Managers, Assistant Managers, Mechanics, Tire Installers, and similar jobs because of their sex.
- The EEOC has sued the Texas Roadhouse chain of restaurants, claiming that Texas Roadhouse did not hire people age 40 and older because of their age.
- The EEOC has sued Bass Pro Outdoor World, claiming that it did not hire people because of their race (African-American or black) or national origin (Hispanic or Latino) and that Bass Pro retaliated against employees who complained about discrimination.
Not only is the EEOC filing law suits, but they have won some staggering jury verdicts. For example, an Iowa federal jury recently ordered Hill Country Farms, Inc. to pay $240 million in damages to 32 mentally disabled workers that were subject to a hostile work environment at an Iowa turkey-processing plant. This is the largest verdict ever obtained by the EEOC. So, what can employers do to avoid the same fate?
Employers should address each charge of discrimination as a potential future lawsuit and should consider involving legal counsel in the investigation arising out of the charge, as well as in preparing the response to the EEOC. It is important to consider the requests made by the EEOC and the appropriate response, and to verify that all information provided is accurate. The charging party and his or her counsel will have access to all information provided to the EEOC, and the information may become relevant in any future litigation. Employers should also put any insurance carriers on notice when the EEOC provides notice that a charge has been filed. Failure to do this could result in loss of coverage if a lawsuit is ultimately filed.
If you have any questions about how to protect your company from an EEOC lawsuit or any other type employment litigation, please contact the author of this article or any other member of Butler Snow’s Labor and Employment group.