Forrest City Grocery Company To Pay $125,000 To Settle EEOC Sex Discrimination Suit

FORREST CITY, Ark. -- Forrest City Grocery Company, a distributor of tobacco and grocery items to retail and convenience stores in six states, has agreed to pay $125,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC alleged that Forrest City Grocery, doing business as Dixie Tobacco & Candy Company in Shaw, Miss., now closed, denied sales positions to an employee because she is a woman.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the company told Amanda McMillan the job of a salesman was too dangerous for a woman, and that she would not be a good mother if she were on the road meeting customers. The lawsuit charges that Forrest City Grocery paid McMillan less than men doing the same work.

Sex discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Mississippi (EEOC v. Forrest City Grocery Company, Civil Action No.2:10-cv-00166), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Besides the monetary damages, the company also agreed to be monitored by the EEOC, to disseminate employment policies to employees, and provide ongoing training for management on sex discrimination.

“Women make valuable contributions to the work force, yet they are too often denied opportunities at work based on gender stereotypes and old-fashioned ideas about a woman’s proper place,” said Birmingham District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas. “Employers must ensure they, and their managers, are in compliance with the law for the benefit of themselves and their employees.”

C. Emanuel Smith, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham District Office, commented, “The EEOC is committed to ensuring that employers do not discriminate against women because of their sex. This lawsuit again demonstrates the EEOC’s ongoing commitment to eliminating sex bias in the workplace. Forrest City’s agreement to train managers on preventing discrimination is a big step in the right direction.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. The EEOC’s Birmingham District includes Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern counties) and the Florida Panhandle. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.

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