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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
9-20-11

EEOC Sues Goodwill Industries for Retaliation

Federal Agency Alleges Lawton, Okla., Non-Profit Organization Retaliated Against Long-Term Employee

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Goodwill Industries of Southwest Oklahoma and North Texas, Inc. violated federal law by terminating a manager in retaliation for her providing deposition testimony in a co-worker’s discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

The suit alleges that Goodwill fired Mary Goulet, who had worked for Goodwill for 13 years, on June 16, 2010, from her position at its Lawton, Okla., location because she gave testimony which was not favorable to Goodwill in a deposition taken during a federal age and sex discrimination lawsuit brought by another employee against the company.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Goodwill Industries of Southwest Oklahoma and North Texas, Inc., Case No. 5:11-cv-1043-D) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages. The EEOC also requests injunctive relief to prevent Goodwill from engaging in such discrimination and retaliation in the future.

“The EEOC will not allow an employer to unlawfully retaliate against an employee because the employer does not like what it hears in a court proceeding,” said Barbara A. Seely, regional attorney of the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office, which includes Oklahoma. “If one employee is fired for testifying about discrimination – just because a supervisor does not like what the employee said – the employer’s conduct can have a chilling effect and discourage other employees from coming forward as witnesses to discrimination or filing valid discrimination charges themselves. Retaliation is a roadblock to justice.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.