Bankruptcy Trustee Settles Retaliation Suit On Behalf Of Debtor EaglePicher Technologies, LLC

ST. LOUIS -- EaglePicher Technologies, LLC, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2005, has settled a retaliation and termination lawsuit with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for over $35,000 through its bankruptcy trustee, the agency announced today.

The suit, filed by the EEOC on behalf of EaglePicher Technologies employee Brenda McCollum, was based on the company’s 2004 termination of her. The EEOC alleged the firing was in retaliation for McCollum’s complaints of sex discrimination and her participation in a 2003 discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC.

McCollum and seven other female employees at EaglePicher’s Joplin, Mo.-based facility shared a $200,000 settlement obtained by the EEOC in 2003. According to the EEOC, McCollum continued working at the company after the 2003 suit, but she was subjected to retaliatory treatment by management and ultimately was terminated. McCollum returned to work in 2005 after a union arbitrator determined that her termination violated the union’s contract and ordered her reinstatement with backpay. The EEOC alleged that McCollum’s termination also violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and that she was entitled to additional backpay and compensatory damages. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based upon race, color, religion, sex or national origin, as well as retaliation for complaining about such discrimination.

The suit was resolved as part of a case in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Ohio (EaglePicher Holdings, Inc., et al., Case No. 05-12601). The bankruptcy court approved the settlement on Nov. 20, and, after brief waiting period for appeals, the settlement was made final this week. Because of the bankruptcy, McCollum is expected to receive just over $12,000. EaglePicher Technologies is an affiliate of EaglePicher Holdings, Inc.

“Time and again, the EEOC sees cases where retaliation by employers is as bad, or even worse, than the original discrimination,” said Regional Attorney Barbara A. Seely of the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office. “Employers must understand that the law prohibits not only discrimination, but also retaliation against employees who complain about discrimination, who file discrimination charges with the EEOC, or who participate in discrimination lawsuits. Even if the initial discrimination allegation is found to lack merit, employers are still liable for retaliation.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.

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