Woodlands Psychiatry and Counseling Fired Licensed Counselor for Filing an EEOC Charge, Federal Agency Charges
HOUSTON – The Woodlands Psychiatry and Counseling Company, a hospital in Conroe, Texas, violated federal law when it fired an employee for making a discrimination charge to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, the hospital fired a chemical dependency counselor after it learned she had filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC. The counselor filed the charge and the EEOC sent a formal notice to the hospital’s owner, Dr. Emaid Mikhail Bishai, that same day. That evening, Bishai texted the employee and barred her from returning to work, stating, “I received your case of discrimination email now,” and told her she would be charged with criminal trespass if she returned to the premises. The company later admitted to the EEOC that it had to fire her because it could not “afford to have a current employee that is in active discrimination charges against the company for liability reasons.”
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for complaining about discrimination. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division (Civil Action No. 4:20-cv-02275) on June 29 after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The federal agency is seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting The Woodlands Psychiatry and Counseling Company from engaging in any future retaliation. The EEOC also seeks back pay with pre-judgment interest, compensatory and punitive damages for the discharged employee, and other relief.
“Federal law protects employees from retaliating against employees who file charges with the EEOC,” said Rayford O. Irvin, district director of the EEOC’s Houston District Office.
Regional Attorney Rudy Sustaita of the EEOC Houston District Office added, “Employees should never be afraid to file charges with the EEOC. They must remain confident that their rights will be protected.”
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov