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EEOC sues food company for aggressive workplace discrimination

It's good to know that there are virtually no American companies that discriminate against women in the workplace any longer. Uh, well, that's not quite true...just yet. In one state, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a federal sex-discrimination suit against a nationwide company called Performance Food Group Inc. for hiring practices that sharply discriminate against women. In Texas as well elsewhere, workplace discrimination can result in a monetary claim against the employer.

The company operates in 14 states and has 11,000 employees nationwide. It allegedly has kept women from a multitude of work positions, such as drivers, forklift operators, mechanics, warehouse supervisors, dispatching and many others. When the EEOC files on its own accord, it must charge an invidious pattern of discrimination or words to that effect. In the lawsuit, filed in the federal district court in Baltimore, some of the statements attributed to company executives are shocking remembrances of things past.

The complaint alleges an aggressive company policy of trying to hire men over women. A former senior vice president openly said women were incapable of warehouse work, and he asked the warehouse manager why he continued to hire 'these girls'. Others called women a distraction in a warehouse, with child care issues and a propensity to make men feel unsafe working around them. An EEOC lawyer earmarked this type of blatant discrimination an EEOC priority. She said that no employer can legally reject women based on discredited stereotypes or time-worn biases.

The EEOC doesn't file that many lawsuits, and only does so when the violations are flagrant. Instead, the agency usually acts as a screening tool to process individual discrimination claims. If the EEOC issues a 'right to sue' letter to the employee, this gives the employee the right to bring a lawsuit for discrimination within a certain number of days.

In a workplace discrimination case in Texas, the employee will generally ask for an injunction against the employer, back pay, compensation for monetary losses and emotional damage, and sometimes for punitive damages. The law generally favors reinstatement of the employee but that remedy is seldom used because of decidedly bad blood between the contestants. Usually, monetary awards are given instead of reinstatement.

Source: Richmond Times Dispatch, "EEOC files lawsuit against Performance Food Group," Randy Hallman, June 19, 2013

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*Alfonso Kennard, Jr. and Terrence Robinson are Board Certified in Labor & Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Alfonso Kennard, Jr. has been recognized as a SuperLawyer in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. Terrence Robinson has been recognized as a SuperLawyer in 2005, 2006, 2011, and 2012. Alfonso Kennard, Jr. and Terrence Robinson are AV Rated by Lexis Nexis-their highest distinction since as recently as 2013. Both have been designated as Top Laywers, by Lexis Nexis.