Employee Fired After Cooperating in EEOC Investigation, Federal Agency Charged
DALLAS – Allsup’s Convenience Stores, Inc. violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) when it fired an employee as retaliation for cooperating with a discrimination investigation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. Allsup’s, headquartered in Clovis, N.M., has 300 locations throughout New Mexico and Texas and employs approximately 2,500 individuals.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit (Civil Action No. 2:09-CV-941), Orvel Pape, a nine-year Allsup’s employee, was fired from his management position because he cooperated with an EEOC investigation of another employee’s charge of discrimination brought against the company under the ADA. The EEOC said that Pape was terminated shortly after the company was notified that Pape’s statements to an EEOC investigator had contributed to a finding of violation in connection with the first discrimination charge.
“The success of federal anti-discrimination laws hinges on employees feeling free to come forward to report perceived discrimination,” said Meaghan Shepard, trial attorney with the EEOC’s Dallas District Office. “An employee should be able to offer information in connection with other people’s charges without fear of losing his job. Punishing an employee for cooperating with the EEOC discourages people from participating in investigations and interferes with our ability to fight discrimination in the workplace.”
The ADA includes a section prohibiting discrimination against any individual based on that person’s testimony, assistance, or participation in any manner in an investigation into an alleged ADA violation. The EEOC’s suit seeks back pay and front pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief to ensure no further retaliation. The Commission filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino of the EEOC’s Dallas District Office said, “We are so fortunate to have some people who will step forward and provide honest information about what may have happened to a co-worker. We simply cannot afford to have that kind of workplace integrity diluted by the chilling effects of reprisal. However, with the award of punitive damages available to juries, the decision to get rid of employees who have simply been honest in support of law enforcement efforts can be a costly one.”
In Fiscal Year 2008, retaliation filings under all statutes rose 23 percent to 32,690.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on September 28, 2009.
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