Religious Discrimination and Pay Discrimination Charges Levied Against California Employers
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced charges in a pay discrimination case against a Santa Ana-based concrete liner company and a settlement in a religious discrimination case against J.B. Hunt Transport.
According to EEOC reports, J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. will pay $260,000 and provide other relief to settle charges of race, national origin and religious discrimination. The settlement stems from allegations that four East Indian Sikh applicants were denied a religious accommodation during the hiring process when they requested an alternative to the company's hair sample drug testing policy. The charges were filed by the Sikh Coalition on behalf of the four Sikh applicants. One of the five articles of faith for Sikhs is maintaining uncut hair.
The charges further asserted that the refusal of the religious accommodation led to the denial of hire for the four applicants. EEOC investigated the allegations and found reasonable cause to believe that J.B. Hunt failed to provide a religious accommodation and failed to hire a class of individuals due to their race, national origin and religion, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Three of the four applicants were denied hire at the South Gate, Calif., location. The fourth applicant was screened out at the pre-screening phone call prior to even having a face-to-face meeting at the South Gate hub. The headquarters of J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. is located in Lowell, Ark.
Without admitting liability, J.B. Hunt agreed to enter into a two-year conciliation agreement with EEOC and the alleged victims, thereby avoiding litigation. During the course of the investigation, J.B. Hunt took the following actions:
- revised its written policies and procedures regarding discrimination and religious accommodations
- established an alternative to the drug testing by hair sample for those who need an accommodation
- provided monetary relief to all complainants
- extended a conditional offer of employment to all complainants
- agreed to designate an equal employment opportunity consultant, develop written complaint procedures, and conduct training for all employees who participate in the hiring, compliance, or internal grievance process.
The EEOC also reported violations by Spec Formliners, Inc., a Santa Ana, Calif.-based concrete liner company. According the agency, Spec Formliners violated federal law when it paid a female sales representative less than a male sales representative,in base pay and required the female to sell more to earn the same commission as the male.
This alleged conduct violates the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (EEOC v. Spec Formliners, Inc., Case No. 8:16-cv-02066) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC's suit seeks back pay and liquidated damages, along with compensatory and punitive damages for the female employee, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent and address discrimination.
“One of EEOC's strategic enforcement priorities is to ensure women receive equal pay for equal work,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC's Los Angeles District, whose jurisdiction includes California's Orange County. “Depriving women of equal pay can have an impact beyond just the individuals involved.”
Enforcement of equal pay laws and targeting compensation systems and practices is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP). The complete list of the Commission's six national priorities can be found on the Kingsley & Kingsley website by clicking here.
If you feel you have been discriminated against, or have questions about any of California's employment related laws, feel free to contact leading California employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley. Call toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or contact us via email.