EEOC Sues Winfield Rubber for Retaliation

Manager Fired for Disciplining Accused Harasser, Federal Agency Charges

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Winfield Rubber Manufacturing Co., Inc. violated federal law when it retaliated against one of its managers for firing an employee for sexual assault, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

The EEOC contends in its lawsuit that Winfield Rubber, based in Winfield, Ala., fired Mark Holmes because he had terminated an employee who had sexually harassed and assaulted a female co-worker. The lawsuit claims that after Holmes fired the harasser, Winfield Rubber verbally abused the victim and re-hired the harasser. The company then tried to convince Holmes to change his opinion on his opposition to the harassment, and to Winfield Rubber's refusal to reasonably address it. The EEOC's investigation revealed Winfield Rubber terminated Holmes when he said he would "tell the truth" rather than toe the company line.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division (Civil Action No. 2:13-cv-00602-AKK), after the agency first attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The suit seeks monetary damages, including back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief.

"There is no justification in the world for any employer to penalize a manager for doing the right thing, stopping sexual misconduct and ensuring that victims know their rights," said EEOC District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas. "Punishing this man instead of thanking him was a perversion of justice, and the EEOC is here to right such wrongs."

"Employers cannot be allowed to terminate or threaten a manager as penalty for complying with federal law," said EEOC Regional Attorney C. Emanuel Smith. "Employers face serious legal consequences if they engage in this type of retaliatory conduct."

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The EEOC's Birmingham District covers Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern counties) and the Florida Panhandle. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.