U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Ex-Employee Alleged a Series of Retaliatory Actions By Store Manager After Complaining About Discrimination
SARASOTA, Fla. - OfficeMax, an office and technology supply store, will pay $85,000 and target recruitment of African-Americans and Hispanics to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC's lawsuit (EEOC v. OfficeMax North America, Case No. 8:12-cv-00643-EAK-MAP in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida) charged that OfficeMax violated federal law when its store manager retaliated against a sales associate after the associate complained that he had been terminated because he is Hispanic. The store manager was required to immediately reinstate the sales associate, but then engaged in a series of retaliatory actions designed to generate reasons to terminate him again and/or force the sales associate to resign, the agency alleged. The sales associate's charge of discrimination was investigated in the EEOC's Tampa Field Office.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the monetary settlement, the four year consent decree contained injunctive relief: OfficeMax agreed to target additional recruitment efforts in the Sarasota/Bradenton area to reach more African American and Hispanic applicants, provide training for its management and human resource personnel in three locations in the Bradenton/Sarasota area on racial harassment and retaliation, and will report future internal discrimination complaints to the EEOC.
EEOC's Miami District Director Malcolm Medley said, "We understand how difficult it may be for an employee to stand up against his employer and voice concerns about discriminatory treatment. The Commission is dedicated to protecting all employees when they assert their rights."
"The anti-retaliation provisions in Title VII were created to provide a safe haven for employees when they speak up against workplace wrongs," said EEOC's Miami regional attorney, Robert E. Weisberg. "It is important that the Commission support and empower employees to continue doing so without fear of reprisal from their employers."
OfficeMax is a nationwide retailer of office and technology products with more than 900 stores and approximately 29,000 sales associates in the U.S. and Mexico.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's website at www.eeoc.gov.