Sears, Roebuck & Co., which remains one of the nation’s largest retailers, will pay $100,000 and furnish other relief to settle a race, sex and age discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC charged that Sears subjected an African-American female employee over the age of 40 to race, age and sex discrimination as well as retaliation for complaining about it. In its lawsuit filed in September 2010, the EEOC charged that Mary Johnson, who worked in loss prevention at several Sears stores in the Oklahoma City area, including its Sequoyah and Midwest City locations, from 1982 until her termination in March of 2010, was passed over for promotion to supervisor several times beginning in 2007 in favor of younger, less experienced, white males. According to the agency, Sears retaliated against Johnson for her initial EEOC discrimination charge in September 2007 by subjecting her to worsening terms and conditions at work. Sears last passed over Johnson for promotion in early 2010, just prior to terminating her employment in March 2010 for complaining about its practices and participating in the EEOC’s investigative process. Sears denied that it discriminated against Johnson.
Race, sex and age discrimination and retaliation violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In addition to the $100,000 payment, Sears agreed to take specified actions designed to prevent future discrimination, including the posting of anti-discrimination notices to employees, dissemination of its anti-discrimination policy and providing anti-discrimination training to employees. The settlement terms are set forth in a consent decree filed with the court. Barbara Seely, regional attorney of the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Oklahoma, had this to say:
This decree will remind Sears and all large retailers to treat their employees equally as required by law, including older employees, women and people of color, who have too often been victims of job discrimination. Corporate America must be more vigilant in guarding against discrimination and retaliation or risk action and exposure by the EEOC.
According to company information, Hoffman Estates, Ill.- based Sears, Roebuck and Co., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sears Holdings Corporation, has more than 2,700 Sears-branded and affiliated stores in the United States and Canada, which includes over 890 full-line and more than 1,350 specialty stores in the U.S. 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 link.
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