EEOC Wins Second Victory Against RadioShack in Retaliation Case

by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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55-Year-Old  Manager Fired Days After He Complained About Age Discrimination; Awarded $675,000  Judgment

DENVER  - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) won another victory  in federal court in Denver on Feb. 27 in its employment discrimination lawsuit  against major communications equipment retailer RadioShack.  Judge Lewis Babcock entered a judgment for a  variety of relief, including back pay in accordance with a September jury  verdict, liquidated damages, front pay, and an additional award to offset the  increased taxes that will be incurred as a result of receiving the entire award  in a lump sum of approximately $675,000.

According  to the EEOC's suit, in the fall of 2007, David Nelson, then 55, had been  employed for more than 25 years when RadioShack assigned a new, 43-year-old  regional manager to supervise him.  Within  four months of the new supervisor's arrival at the regional office in Denver,  Nelson, who had a spotless performance record, was placed on two "performance  improvement plans."  Nelson believed that  he was being discriminated against by his new supervisor because of his age and  he complained to the human resources department about the discrimination.  Within five days of the first complaint, and before  the period for assessing the improvement in his performance had expired, RadioShack  fired Nelson in retaliation for his discrimination complaint.

The  lawsuit, EEOC v. RadioShack, Civil  Action #10-cv-02365, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado,  charged age discrimination and retaliation under the Age Discrimination in  Employment Act.  In September, 2012, a Denver  jury awarded Nelson $187,706 in back pay on the retaliation claim and found  that this conduct by RadioShack was willful.   On February 27, 2013, Federal Court Judge Lewis T. Babcock held an  evidentiary hearing on the EEOC's motion seeking front pay in lieu of  reinstatement, as well as an award to offset the increased tax burden that  Nelson will face as a result of receiving the entire judgment in a lump  sum.  Judge Babcock ruled that Nelson was  entitled to liquidated damages of $187,706, front pay damages of $199,470, and  an additional $101,657 to offset the increased tax burden.  In total, the judgment is for $674,938.

"The  Commission is dedicated to the enforcement of all the anti-discrimination laws  and, if necessary, will try the cases," said EEOC General Counsel Patrick  Lopez.  "This is the latest in a series  of Commission trial victories nationwide."

Rita  Kittle, supervisory trial attorney for the EEOC's Denver Field Office, who  tried the case for the EEOC, said, "It is particularly important for the EEOC  to vigorously enforce the anti-retaliation provisions in the employment  discrimination laws.  If employees do not  feel comfortable coming forward when they feel they are being discriminated  against, the very purpose of the anti-discrimination statutes is eviscerated."

EEOC Senior  Trial Attorney William (Bill) Moench, who tried the case with Kittle, added, "We  are heartened that the jury saw RadioShack's retaliatory behavior for what it  was, and that Judge Babcock was willing to award damages over and above the  back pay loss so that Mr. Nelson can be made whole, and be able to look forward  to some semblance of the retirement plans he had before he was fired."   

According  to company information, Fort Worth-based RadioShack employs 32,000 people globally.   RadioShack's retail network includes approximately 4,700 company-operated  stores in the United States and Mexico, 1,500 wireless phone centers in the  United States, and approximately 1,100 dealers and other outlets worldwide.

In  fiscal year 2012, the EEOC received 37,836 charges alleging retaliation.  This constituted 38.1% of the total number of  charges, the highest percentage for retaliation charges in history, and the  largest number of any basis for a discrimination charge.

The  EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information is available on its web  site at www.eeoc.gov

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) | Attorney Advertising

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