EEOC Sues AT&T for Race, Sex and Retaliation Discrimination

JONESBORO, Ark. – AT&T d/b/a Southwestern Bell Telephone Company (AT&T) violated federal law by discharging Antonnett Johnson because of her sex (female), race (black), and in retaliation for her complaints of discriminatory treatment by co-workers and customers, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

The EEOC’s lawsuit (Civil Action No. 3:11-cv-00196, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Jonesboro Division), asserts that AT&T subjected Antonnett Johnson, a technician who repaired and installed telephones in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to unequal terms and conditions of employment because of her sex and race, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC alleges that the company reprimanded Johnson on several occasions and discharged her, but it did not terminate a white male co-worker who committed the same offenses. In addition, the EEOC alleges that the company violated Title VII because it retaliated against Ms. Johnson when she complained that customers and co-workers subjected her to discriminatory comments and treatment based on her sex and race.

The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency’s lawsuit seeks monetary relief in the form of back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, reinstatement, and an injunction against future discrimination, among other items.

Katharine W. Kores, the EEOC’s District Director in Memphis, said, "It is a serious violation of Title VII to discharge an employee based on sex and race. Further, retaliation is an issue of special concern to the EEOC. It is simply illegal to fire some one for reporting unlawful discrimination. Employees must be able to complain about practices which they believe violate the law without fear of retribution.”

AT&T, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, is a large holding company providing connected devices and a host of other emerging products. Southwestern Bell Company is diversified telecommunication companies, incorporated in Tennessee.

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