U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Federal Agency Charges Arkansas Facility Fired Four Employees in Connection With Complaints About Discriminatory Practices
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Delta Family Health and Fitness Center for Children, Inc. in Hamburg, Ark., violated federal law by firing four employees who were involved in the filing of several discrimination complaints, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, two employees were terminated after one of them made a complaint of sexual harassment and named the other employee as a witness to the harassment. Two other employees were fired after they claimed they were paid less because of their race and/or gender and after they filed charges of discrimination with the Commission. Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees for complaining of alleged discriminatory practices in the workplace or because they filed a charge with the EEOC.
“Workers need to be free to alert their managers or the EEOC about discrimination they experience or witness in the workplace,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “When an employer ‘punishes the messenger’ by firing an employee who speaks up about discrimination, the employer is violating federal law. The EEOC is here to root out and rectify this kind of illegal retaliation.”
The lawsuit against Delta was filed by the EEOC in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas (Civil Action No. 1:09-cv-01058) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The suit seeks monetary relief in the form of back pay and compensatory and punitive damages, reinstatement and an injunction against future discrimination.
“The EEOC is especially concerned when employees are terminated simply for complaining about what they believe to be discriminatory employment practices," said Katharine W. Kores, district director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas and Tennessee and 17 counties in Northern Mississippi. “Employees must be able to voice their concerns about employment without the fear, justified in this case, that they will be terminated for that concern.”
Delta operates a psychiatric residential treatment center for adolescents in Hamburg, Ark. The facility opened in September of 2007.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.