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PRESS RELEASE
1-22-10

Memphis Goodwill Agrees to Pay $105,000 to Settle EEOC Race Bias and Retaliation Lawsuit

Former Employee Fired for Complaining About Alleged Race Discrimination, Agency Charges

MEMPHIS – Memphis Goodwill Industries, Inc., a non-profit agency, will pay $105,000 to settle a race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged in its suit (No. 2:08-cv-02621-BBD-cgc, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee) that Memphis Goodwill fired a transportation director in retaliation for reporting alleged race discrimination and because of her race, black.

In addition, the EEOC’s suit alleged that the vice president of operations chastised a group of African Americans by stating, “This is not the ghetto.” When the former transportation director complained to the vice president of operations, she received her first written reprimand from him within days and after receiving a second write-up less than 30 days later she was fired. After her termination, the EEOC said, a white male was hired as manager of transportation.

Under the terms of the two-year settlement agreement resolving the suit, signed by U.S. District Judge Bernice Bouie Donald, in addition to the monetary award, Memphis Goodwill agreed to provide employment discrimination training to management personnel at its Memphis facility and to report complaints of discrimination to the EEOC. The company will also purge the former employee's personnel file of negative disciplinary actions and provide her with a reference agreed to by the parties.

Faye A. Williams, EEOC regional attorney in Memphis, said, "It is a serious violation of federal law to discharge an employee based on race. Further, it is simply illegal to fire someone for reporting unlawful discrimination. Employees must be able to complain about practices which they believe violate the law without fear of retribution. We are pleased the parties were able to resolve the case prior to trial.”

Memphis Goodwill trains and employs workers. In the Memphis Area, Memphis Goodwill has over 200 employees.

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