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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Company Pays Up to Settle Sex Suit

Company Pays Up to Settle Sex Suit






Reprint O&A News 8-16-09



R-Anell Housing Group, LLC, an upscale manufacturer of pre-fabricated commercial structures and custom modular homes, has agreed to pay $200,000 and provide significant injunctive relief to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of several female employees. R-Anell’s moto is “Our passion is to build what you imagine” http://www.r-anell-modular-homes.com/ However, they never imagined the EEOC’s passion to prosecute.
According to the EEOC court-filed complaint against R-Arnell the company:

  • refused to hire Amy Hall and a class of similarly situated female applicants because of their sex;

  • engaged in gender-based discriminatory hiring practices at its Cherryville, N.C., manufacturing facility beginning as early as 2004, and at a manufacturing facility previously operated in Denver, N.C., beginning as early as 2003;

  • maintains a sex-segregated workforce that had the effect of denying female employees equal employment opportunities;

  • failed to preserve applications and personnel records as required by law; and
    excluded all women – half the population and half the talent pool – from the workplace.
In addition to the $200,000 in back pay and compensatory damages, the four-year consent decree resolving the case (EEOC v. R-Anell Housing Group, LLC, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina) includes injunctive relief enjoining R-Anell Housing from engaging in sex discrimination or retaliation. The consent decree also requires recruitment and hiring efforts directed toward employing women; anti-discrimination training; the posting of a notice about the EEOC; preservation of applications and personnel records by the company; and reporting by the company concerning its recruitment efforts and hiring.
Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office, said, “Sex discrimination in hiring continues to be an issue in the 21st century workplace. This is particularly in non-traditional fields for women, such as construction. Employers must be careful to give equal consideration in hiring to both genders, regardless of the work involved. The EEOC will continue to enforce workplace civil rights laws vigorously to remedy and eradicate sex discrimination.”
Practical Counsel: To say that the EEOC is on a mission would be an underestimate. EEOC case filing activity in direct federal court actions against employers has tripled over 2008. Not only will R-Anell Housing Group have $200,000 loped off its bottom line, but the EEOC will be monitoring compliance for 4 long years; a nightmare for an employer. My recommendation is that you have all your employment practices audited to locate the areas and practices where you are at greatest risk. With a few handbook upgrades, forms and training you can typically avert being the EEOC’s next road kill.

Tommy Eden is a Lee County native, an attorney with the local office of Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP and a member of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and serves on the Board of Directors for the East Alabama SHRM Chapter. He can be contacted at teden@constangy.com or 334-246-2901. Blog at www.alabamaatwork.com