Sterling and Sterling to Pay $120,000 to Settle EEOC Suit for Retaliation

Insurance Company Fired Employee for Filling Out EEOC Questionnaire, Federal Agency Charged

NEW YORK -- Sterling and Sterling, Inc., an insurance company on Long Island, New York, will pay $120,000 to settle a lawsuit for retaliation filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency announced today.

In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that Sterling fired Rochelle Legette from her position as a sales telemarketer after she filled out an EEOC questionnaire stemming from her complaints of race and sex harassment. Legette, who had been hired in March 2007, filled out the questionnaire in September 2009. Legette was on maternity leave at that time and returned to work on Feb. 1, 2010. Sterling, citing her EEOC filing, suspended her two weeks later, and fired her on March 1, 2010.

Retaliation against an employee for taking action against perceived discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in September 2011 with U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (No. CV-11-4786) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The consent decree settling the suit, in addition to the monetary relief, includes provisions for equal employment opportunity training, reporting, and posting of anti-discrimination notices.

“Employers need to be aware that employees have the right to come to the EEOC, and we hope this lawsuit will discourage other employers from punishing employees who contact this agency,” said Elizabeth Grossman, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office. Michael J. O’Brien, a senior trial attorney, added that “employees should be confident that they can approach the EEOC.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at