Southeast Telecom Settles EEOC Lawsuit for Retaliation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Southeastern Telecom Inc. will pay $95,000 and provide other relief to settle a lawsuit for unlawful retaliation filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC’s suit had charged that Southeastern Telecom violated federal law when it discharged a sales account executive within one week of her complaint of sex discrimination, including unequal pay. The EEOC’s complaint specifically alleged that Southeastern Telecom disabled the account executive’s work computer, removed her e-mail access, restricted her access to the work site, and finally fired her in retaliation for her complaint of sex discrimination.

Retaliating against an employee who makes a claim of discrimination, including unequal pay, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No 3:09-cv-00887) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Besides providing monetary relief, the two-year consent decree signed by Senior District Judge Thomas A. Wiseman, Jr. on March 18, 2011, enjoins Southeastern Telecom from further retaliating against any employee or applicant for employment for opposing discrimination in the workplace. The decree provides for workplace training, a revised policy for making complaints, reporting provisions, and the posting of an anti-discrimination notice.

“Retaliating against an employee for exercising her right to point out discriminatory practice is a violation of federal law,” said Faye Williams, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Tennessee, Arkansas, and 17 counties in Northern Mississippi. “This settlement demonstrates the Commission’s commitment to prevent retaliation in the workplace, and Southeastern Telecom’s commitment to ensure that similar problems do not occur in the future.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at