Companies Resolve Alleged Title VII, ADA, PDA Violations

January 20, 2020

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) separately announced settlements with six unrelated employers in California, Hawaii, Georgia, and Ohio for alleged violations of Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). Together these companies will pay at least $434,800 to resolve those allegations.

Repeated sexual harassment.Carmel, California-based JCFB, Inc,dbaPorta Bella Restaurant and Mediterranean Restaurant, has agreed to pay $175,000 to two former employees to settle a Title VII sexual harassment lawsuit filed on behalf of female and male kitchen staff. The EEOC’s lawsuit alleged that a male line cook at Porta Bella Restaurant suffered repeated inappropriate grabbing of his private parts by the kitchen manager, cook, and chef. When he reported the conduct to Porta Bella's owners, they dismissed the behavior and said, "They only play." Afterwards, the chef became confrontational, and yelled and hit the line cook, forcing him to quit. The EEOC alleged that the restaurant failed to adequately investigate or discipline the harassers.

The EEOC also sued on behalf of a female dishwasher employed at Mediterranean Restaurant who endured daily sexual comments and occasional unwanted physical touching by the same kitchen manager that harassed the Porta Bella line cook. Although she informed another manager of the harassment, the sexual comments continued.

Intermittent leave request declined.Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA) has agreed to pay $180,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC. The lawsuit alleged that the health insurance company violated the ADA when it decided not to allow intermittent leave as a possible accommodation for employees with disabilities in its customer relations department. HMSA also failed to engage in the interactive process with its employees to determine if there were other accommodations available for them. The above-mentioned practices forced employees to either work without an accommodation or resign, according to the EEOC.

Employee discharged due to mental disabilities.Cumming, Georgia-based Heritage Charity Auction & Awards, Inc, a manufacturer and seller of display cases for memorabilia and auction company, will pay $19,000 to settle a disability discrimination suit. The lawsuit alleged that the company violated the ADA when it fired an employee after she disclosed that she has mental disabilities and might need an accommodation. The EEOC said that the employee’s mental disabilities did not affect her ability to perform her job. Once the employee stated that she might need an accommodation, Heritage purportedly made her leave work immediately and told her it needed documentation from a counselor or a doctor describing her mental health issues. However, when the employee attempted to satisfy this request, the company refused to engage in the interactive process required by the ADA and, instead, it filled the employee’s position and discharged her.

Pregnancy discrimination suit settled.Maurizio Trattoria Italiana LLC, a fine-dining Italian restaurant in Encinitas, California, has agreed to pay $18,800 to settle a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the restaurant violated the PDA by reducing a female employee’s hours after being notified of her pregnancy, which resulted in substantially less pay. The EEOC further contends that the restaurant refused to return the employee to her server position after she gave birth and fired her instead.

Racial harassment class case resolved.Lowellville, Ohio-based Falcon Foundry Company has agreed to resolve a racial harassment class case that filed by the Youngstown Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the EEOC. After the NAACP filed the charge with the EEOC, the agency’s investigation found that one of Falcon Foundry Company’s top officials subjected employees to derogatory racial comments and that there was a noose hanging in the facility. The EEOC also found that minority employees were disciplined for violating company policies while white employees who violated the same policies were not disciplined. On these bases, the EEOC found that a class of individuals were harassed and discriminated against—in violation of Title VII—because of their race, black; their national origin, Hispanic; or their association with a black or Hispanic employee.