U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Chairmaker Fired Two Employees for Complaining About Perceived Racial Preferences, Federal Agency Charged
COLUMBIA, Tenn. - Bertolini Corporation, a manufacturer of stackable chairs located in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., violated federal law by firing two employees for complaining about unlawful national origin and race discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed yesterday.
According to the EEOC's suit, Bertolini employees Brian McBride and Cindra Newton asserted that Hispanic employees were being treated more favorably than non-Hispanic employees. McBride complained to Plant Manager Gary Daniels and to the plant's human resources department. Newton, who was employed in an HR capacity, complained to Daniels and to the corporate human resources department. After McBride complained, he was disciplined and fired shortly thereafter, the EEOC said, and Newton was also terminated shortly after her complaints.
Such conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees against retaliation for complaining about discriminatory practices. The EEOC filed suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Columbia Division (Civil Action No. 1:13-cv-00066) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
The EEOC has asked the court to grant a permanent injunction enjoining Bertolini from engaging in further retaliation and to provide make whole relief and compensatory and punitive damages to McBride and Newton, and any other relief the court deems necessary and proper.
"Federal law and Supreme Court precedent provide that all employees have a right to complain about practices they reasonably believe are unlawful without repercussions, and the EEOC will continue to act forcefully to protect this right," said Katharine W. Kores, district director of the EEOC's Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and portions of Mississippi.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.