Gerresheimer Peachtree City (USA), a plastics manufacturer for the pharmaceutical and health care industry based in Peachtree City, Ga., will pay $90,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
In its lawsuit filed in September 2010, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia (Civil Action No. 1:10-cv-03082), the EEOC charged that Gerresheimer terminated Donna McLeod from her position as a quality assurance manager in January 2009 in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge with the EEOC. McLeod, who was hired in February 2008, complained internally about gender-based wage discrimination in October 2008. After the employer concluded there was no discrimination in wages, McLeod took her grievance to the EEOC. Within six weeks of receiving notice of the discrimination charge, the employer terminated McLeod for purportedly misusing leave time.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from subjecting employees to discrimination due to race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It also prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for complaining about discriminatory conduct.
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. In the suit and consent decree, Gerresheimer denied any liability or wrongdoing.
“All too often employers look for any opportunity to fire employees who exert their rights under federal civil rights law,” said Robert Dawkins, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “We trust this case will result in more employers thinking twice before they take adverse actions to punish employees for alerting them to discriminatory situations.”
Bernice Williams Kimbrough, district director in Atlanta, noted, “Retaliation is one of the most commonly identified bases of discrimination by people who file charges. The EEOC is just as committed to protecting employees from retaliation as from any other type of discrimination.”