Water Company Denied Position to Veteran Manager Because of Her Gender, Then Eliminated Her Job Due to 'Consolidation,' Federal Agency Charges
TAMPA, Fla. -- Nestlé Waters North America, a Stamford, Conn.-based division of Nestlé Waters, the world's largest bottled water company, will pay $300,000 and furnish significant relief to resolve a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to the lawsuit, Nestlé violated federal anti-discrimination laws when it failed to select Dawn Bowers-Ferrara, a 20-year Nestlé veteran finance and budgeting manager, to the position of Florida Zone business manager because of her gender. Instead, the EEOC said, Nestlé selected a male employee for the newly created position, even though he failed to meet the minimum requirements for the role according to Nestlé's own job description. Nestlé then terminated Bowers-Ferrara's employment because of a "consolidation." Out of 14 Florida zone managers and zone manager supervisors, Bowers-Ferrara was the only female (and the only person) who lost her job as a result of the "consolidation."
Sex discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit against Nestlé in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division (EEOC v. Nestle Waters North America, Case No. 8:15-cv-2197-RAL-TGW (M.D. Fla.)) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement though its conciliation process.
In addition to the $300,000 in monetary relief to Bowers-Ferrara, the three-year consent decree resolving the suit also requires Nestlé to provide her with 12 months of outplacement services. Nestlé is also required to develop and implement an anti-sex discrimination policy and to provide annual training regarding all forms of sex discrimination, including sex stereotyping, to its ReadyRefresh Florida managers and employees. The bottled water company must post notices throughout Florida regarding the settlement and report to EEOC bi-annually on its compliance with the consent decree, including its handling of complaints of sex discrimination.
"Women in the workplace deserve to advance as far as their talents and abilities take them without having the artificial barrier of sex stereotypes forced upon them," said EEOC Tampa Field Director Evangeline Hawthorne.
EEOC Miami District Office Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg added, "Employment decisions should be based on true qualifications, not stereotypical ideas of a candidate's qualifications. EEOC hopes that this resolution will result in Nestlé examining its subjective internal promotion decision making process to ensure that it does not have an adverse impact on women seeking advancement into management positions."
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.