Uniform Company Refused Jobs to Class of Women for Years; Federal Agency Wins Victory After Years of Litigation
INDIANAPOLIS - Cintas Corporation, a major uniform manufacturer and supplier, will pay $1,500,000 to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, Cintas failed to hire females for the position of service sales representative (SSR) throughout Michigan from 1999 until March 31, 2005. SSRs are responsible for selling and servicing customers by taking care of all customer needs. The evidence garnered by EEOC revealed that although females applied, they were not hired at a statistically significant level.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC joined an existing discrimination suit against Cintas in November 2005 (Serrano, et al. v. Cintas Corporation, Civil Action No. 04-40132, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division).
In a consent decree approved by the court on November 25, 2015, Cintas agreed to pay the class of women who applied, but were not hired, $1,500,000 in back pay. Cintas will also pay an additional $50,000 to a third-party claims administrator to distribute money to the class.
Cintas agreed to hire an outside expert to revalidate the criteria used to screen, interview and select SSRs and the interview guides used in SSR hiring. Cintas also agreed to provide training to the individuals involved in the selection of SSRs in Michigan. This training will cover record retention and what constitutes an unlawful employment practice under Title VII. Cintas agreed to continue to provide diversity, harassment and anti-discrimination training annually to employees, including SSRs. Cintas also agreed to post a notice informing employees that federal law prohibits discrimination, and to report and provide to EEOC over an approximate 28-month period information and materials on training programs; recruiting logs; descriptions and explanations for any changes made to the SSR hiring process; its expert's revalidation findings; unprivileged materials and reports from any audits made of a facility's SSR hiring or recruiting methods or practices, should an audit be done; and an Excel spreadsheet containing applicant data.
"We are confident that the injunctive relief obtained provides a strong foundation for eliminating barriers in recruiting and hiring women and will prevent the recurrence of this type of situation," said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez.
Laurie A. Young, regional attorney of EEOC's Indianapolis District Office, said, "We are pleased with this major $1.5 million dollar settlement and consider it a true victory for the women who were denied hire because of their gender. Although this litigation was lengthy, we were buoyed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision recognizing EEOC's statutory authority to bring the case as a pattern-or-practice action. Justice has been served and EEOC has fulfilled its duty and commitment to the public."
Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, women, and people with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
Cintas, based in Cincinnati, provides uniforms, entrance mats, and various other products and services to businesses.
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov. The Indianapolis District Office oversees Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky and parts of Ohio.