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Newport News Industrial Corporation (NNIC) agreed to pay $65,000 and provide substantial injunctive relief to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced April 27, 2014. The company fired an employee who complained she was being discriminated against based on her gender, according to the EEOC.
The EEOC claimed that NNIC hired Julia Horton on Sept. 27, 2010, as a planner to assist with a nuclear plant outage at the Brunswick Nuclear Power Plant in Southport, N.C. Around Nov. 15, 2015, Horton initially complained about the site superintendent treating her in an aggressive, intimidating, sarcastic and condescending manner because of her gender. The company's vice president/general manager completed an investigation into Horton's complaints on Nov. 30, 2015. On Dec. 2, 2015, only 17 days after her initial complaint, and two days after the company's VP completed his investigation, Horton was fired.
The EEOC charged that Horton was fired in retaliation for her complaints about gender-based discrimination. Such alleged conduct violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes prohibits employers from retaliating against someone who complains about discrimination. The EEOC filed suit against NNIC after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement.
In addition to providing monetary relief to Horton, the company entered into a three-year consent decree requiring it to provide annual training to all supervisors, managers, and employees, to prevent future retaliation. The company also agreed to provide information to the EEOC about the names of employees who complained about discrimination, and who were thereafter subjected to an adverse employment action. Finally, it agreed to post a notice to employees concerning their rights under the laws the EEOC enforces.
"Employers cannot punish employees who report discrimination," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office.
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