MCEA To Pay $80,000 To Settle EEOC Retaliation Suit

BALTIMORE – The Maryland Classified Employees Association (MCEA) union will pay $80,000 to settle a retaliation discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Oppor­tunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that MCEA fired employee Gail Tate-Buntin in 2007 for her perceived involvement in an EEOC investigation of her employer’s alleged unlawful employ­ment practices, her opposition to practices she believed to be discriminatory, and her association with Michele Handy, another MCEA employee who had filed a discrimination charge. The EEOC also charged that MCEA denied a promotion to Handy and subjected her to discriminatory terms and conditions of employment because she filed a discrimin­ation charge with the EEOC against MCEA.

Retaliation against an employee for protesting employment discrimination or participating in a discrimination charge investigation violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Case No. WDQ-10-CV-00762 in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.

In addition to the monetary payment to Tate-Buntin and Handy, the EEOC’s settlement requires MCEA to provide significant remedial relief during the two-year consent decree. MCEA will:

* refrain from further engaging in retaliation against any person because he or she opposed any practice made unlawful under Title VII or participated in a Title VII-related proceeding;
* submit written notification to EEOC regarding any and all reports of retaliatory harassment or retaliatory discrimination;
* adhere to an anti-harassment/anti-discrimination policy and distribute a copy of said policy to all current and future officers, managers, employees and independent contractors;
* require all current and former managers and persons designated to receive and investi­gate complaints of harassment and discrimination to attend four hours of training regarding all requirements of Title VII;
* post notices at all its facilities affirming its commitment to maintaining a work environment free of discrimination and retaliation under all federal equal employment opportunity laws; and
* submit other compliance reports to EEOC for the duration of the decree.

“Title VII depends for its enforcement upon the cooperation of employees who are willing to oppose or report employment discrimination,” said EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “This settlement achieves the EEOC’s objectives by providing relief to the victims while implement­ing measures to prevent future retaliation.”

The most frequently filed charges with the EEOC in FY 2009 were charges of discrimination based on race (36 percent), retaliation (36 percent) and sex-based discrimin­ation (30 percent).

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available at its web site www.eeoc.gov.

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