Ill.: Staffing Agency to Pay $800,000 to Settle Bias Claims

By By SHRM Online staff May 21, 2015

A Chicago-area staffing agency will pay $800,000 under a consent decree resolving two discrimination lawsuits filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced May 11, 2015.

The EEOC claimed that Source One Staffing Inc. violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by unlawfully:

*Assigning female employees to a known hostile work environment.

*Retaliating against two female employees who reported that their supervisor was making sexual advances toward them.

*Categorizing jobs as "men's work" or "women's work" and assigning employees accordingly.

*Asking impermissible pre-employment medical questions in violation of the ADA.

*Failing or refusing to assign employees to certain jobs because of their race and/or national origin.

The EEOC filed the suits in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process in both cases.

The consent decree settling the suits provided $800,000 in monetary relief. Of that, $70,000 went to the sexual harassment and retali­ation victims. The remaining $730,000 was distributed evenly to a class of female employees who were not considered for certain work on the basis of their sex.

The decree also required the staffing agency to train its employees on employees' rights under Title VII and the ADA; report complaints of discrimination during the decree's three-year term; change its employment policies and practices to conform to the ADA and Title VII; and post a notice of the decree at all of its locations.

"While the consent decree puts an end to four-years of litigation between EEOC and Source One, the matter is far from over," said John Hendrickson, regional attorney for the EEOC's Chicago District. "The EEOC -- through the appointment of an independent monitor -- will keep a watchful eye on Source One to make sure it fulfills all of its obligations under the decree for the next three years. If Source One fails to adhere to the decree, the EEOC will do everything in its power to ensure compliance.”

Julianne Bowman, director of the EEOC's Chicago District Office, added, "The EEOC determined that Source One violated federal anti-discrimination law in multiple ways, which was alarming, and clearly required serious EEOC action. Further, staffing agencies must understand that they are not immune from enforcement of federal anti-discrimination laws. This decree sends a strong signal to other staffing agencies that if they engage in discrimination -- especially several different kinds of it -- it will come at a high cost."


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