Parking Company Laid Off Workers Based on National Origin, Federal Agency Says
BALTIMORE - LAZ Parking, the second largest parking company in the United States, violated federal law when it terminated three long-time employees based on their national origin, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
According to the suit, LAZ Parking decided to eliminate four positions at its DownUnder Garage in Baltimore in connection with a job automation transition, from a cashier-at-exit system to one where customers pay the parking fee directly at a machine. The EEOC charges that during the transition, LAZ Parking terminated a Moroccan customer service representative, a Moroccan cashier, and an Ethiopian cashier based on their national origin. Each had worked for the parking company since 2009. When the Ethiopian cashier asked the operations manager why he was terminating only certain people, he told her it was because of their "broken English", but also said that she was a good and honest employee, according to the suit. The operations manager also previously commented to the Moroccan customer service representative about his "broken English" and mocked his accent. EEOC says that LAZ Parking retained two American customer service representatives, one of whom had only worked for the company for nine months and the other had never worked as a customer service representative.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits discrimination based on national origin. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. LAZ Parking Mid-Atlantic, LLC, Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-02963) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary, pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said, "These long-time employees did their jobs well and were able to communicate with customers satisfactorily. Unfortunately, LAZ Parking wrongfully selected them for layoff because of their accents and national origins."
EEOC District Director Jamie R. Williamson added, "The EEOC is committed to advancing equal opportunity for all workers regardless of national origin."
The EEOC's Baltimore Field Office is one of four offices in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.