African-American Employee Terminated Because of His Race, Federal Agency Charges
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Schindler Elevator Corporation, one of the leading global manufacturers, installers, and servicers of elevators, escalators and moving walkways, discriminated against a black elevator mechanic when it fired him because of his race, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. The company maintains it headquarters in Morristown, N.J.
According to the EEOC's suit, Schindler discriminated against Ronnie White, who is African-American, when it selected him for layoff from a larger group of employees all working at a company facility located in Charlotte. The company selected White for termination for allegedly having weaker technical and customer service skills than his Caucasian co-workers. The EEOC contends in its lawsuit that Schindler did not have a formal layoff procedure in place, and instead allowed the process to be determined solely by a field superintendent. The field superintendent selected White for termination from a group of three employees in spite of the fact that White had higher scores in all of the considered categories than one of the white employees who was retained, and higher scores in all categories except one than the other Caucasian who was retained.
Race discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division (Civil Action No. 3:12 CV 00639), after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The agency seeks back pay for White as well as compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief.
"It is important that employers have procedures in place that ensure fairness to the affected individuals when determining who will be discharged, hired or promoted," said Lynette Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "By doing so, the employer gives all employees or potential employees the chance to be evaluated based on skill, experience and other factors that can be measured, and thus minimizes the chance that illegal factors such as race will be considered in the process. The EEOC will continue its practice of vigorously addressing race discrimination in the workplace."
Tina Burnside, supervisory trial attorney for the Charlotte District Office, added, "Employment decisions must be based on objective criteria and merit, and federal law prohibits selecting an employee for layoff or firing such employee because of his race."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.