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PRESS RELEASE
4-26-10

MCEA To Pay $80,000 To Settle EEOC Retaliation Suit

Agency Said Local Union Discriminated Against Workers Because They Protested Discrimination at Workplace

BALTIMORE – The Maryland Classified Employees  Association (MCEA) union will pay $80,000 to settle a retaliation discrimination  lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Oppor­tunity Commission (EEOC),  the agency announced today.

In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged  that MCEA fired employee Gail Tate-Buntin in 2007 for her perceived involvement  in an EEOC investigation of her employer’s alleged unlawful employ­ment  practices, her opposition to practices she believed to be discriminatory, and  her association with Michele Handy, another MCEA employee who had filed a  discrimination charge. The EEOC also  charged that MCEA denied a promotion to Handy and subjected her to  discriminatory terms and conditions of employment because she filed a discrimin­ation  charge with the EEOC against MCEA.

Retaliation against an employee for protesting employment discrimination  or participating in a discrimination charge investigation violates Title VII of  the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The  EEOC filed suit (Case No. WDQ-10-CV-00762 in U.S. District Court for the  District of Maryland, Northern Division) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation  settlement.

In addition to the monetary payment  to Tate-Buntin and Handy, the EEOC’s settlement requires MCEA to provide significant  remedial relief during the two-year consent decree. MCEA will:

  • refrain from further engaging in retaliation  against any person because he or she opposed any practice made unlawful under Title  VII or participated in a Title VII-related proceeding;
  • submit written notification to EEOC regarding  any and all reports of retaliatory harassment or retaliatory discrimination;
  • adhere to an anti-harassment/anti-discrimination  policy and distribute a copy of said policy to all current and future officers,  managers, employees and independent contractors;
  • require all current and former managers and  persons designated to receive and investi­gate complaints of harassment and  discrimination to attend four hours of training regarding all requirements of Title  VII;
  • post notices at all its facilities affirming its  commitment to maintaining a work environment free of discrimination and  retaliation under all federal equal employment opportunity laws; and
  • submit other compliance reports to EEOC for the  duration of the decree.

“Title VII depends for its enforcement upon  the cooperation of employees who are willing to oppose or report employment  discrimination,” said EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “This settlement achieves the EEOC’s  objectives by providing relief to the victims while implement­ing measures to  prevent future retaliation.”

The most frequently filed charges  with the EEOC in FY 2009 were charges of discrimination based on race (36  percent), retaliation (36 percent) and sex-based discrimin­ation (30 percent).

The  EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is  available at its web site www.eeoc.gov.