U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Pharmaceutical Management Company Fired HR Manager for Doing Her Job, Federal Agency Charges
ATLANTA – Crowe’s, Inc., an Albany, Ga., company that manages multiple corporations, most of which are pharmacies, violated federal law when it fired a corporate human resources manager tasked with investigating employee discrimination complaints because she opposed unlawful discrimination by company officials, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, Crowe’s terminated Elizabeth Lane from her position because she did her job – she investigated a complaint of employment discrimination and determined that the company had in fact engaged in discrimination. Hired on Dec. 1, 2007, Lane began investigating an African-American employee’s claim of race discrimination in August 2010. After the bulk of her investigation had been completed, Lane contacted Crowe’s attorney and the official who had been accused of discrimination and informed them about the results of her investigation – that she had determined that the complaining employee had been subjected to discrimination for over three years and that the complaining employee “had a case.”
Two business days later, Lane was called into a meeting with the owner and CEO and the alleged discriminating official and was informed that her position was being eliminated. Eleven days after Lane’s position was eliminated, Crowe’s also eliminated the position of the complaining employee whose race claim Lane had been investigating.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The agency filed suit (No. 1:11-CV-130- WLS) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Albany Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for Lane and injunctive relief designed to stop retaliation and prevent it from recurring in the future.
“Terminating employees who are charged with uncovering unlawful discrimination within the workplace, simply because they did their job, represents one of the most outrageous forms of unlawful retaliation,” said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, district director for the EEOC in Atlanta. “It sends a message to these employees: either ignore or support all discriminatory conduct or be punished. This practice defeats the employer’s purpose of having discrimination policies and procedures that, presumably, are designed to stop and prevent discrimination.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.