U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Company Refused Job to Experienced Applicant Because of Gender, Federal Agency Charged
MOBILE, Ala. -- Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Mobile, a manufacturer, bottler and distributor of soft drink products, will pay $35,000 and furnish other significant relief to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to EEOC's suit, Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Mobile, a subsidiary of Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, refused to hire Martina Owes, an applicant for two vacant warehouse positions, because she is female. While Owes had the required warehouse and forklift experience, the company chose to hire less qualified men for the available positions. EEOC also charged that, by not preserving all application materials related to those positions, the company violated federal record-keeping laws.
Sex discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees against discriminatory practices based on race, color, national origin, sex, and religion. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, Mobile Division (EEOC v. Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated et al., Case No. 1:15-cv-00486) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its administrative conciliation process.
The consent decree settling the suit, entered by U.S. District Judge William H. Steele, provides that Coca-Cola Bottling will pay Owes $35,000 and prohibits further discrimination. Also, the company is required, for three years, to conduct annual training of its Mobile employees on discrimination and retaliation, develop new or revised anti-discrimination policies and a written hiring process, and designate a director-level employee to coordinate its compliance with anti-discrimination laws and compliance with the decree.
"Employers are required to provide women with equal employment opportunities, and that includes jobs that traditionally have been dominated by men," said Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director of EEOC's Birmingham District Office, which has jurisdiction over Alabama and portions of Mississippi and Florida. "We appreciate Coca-Cola Bottling's desire to cooperate with EEOC early in the litigation process to resolve this matter."
EEOC Birmingham Regional Attorney C. Emanuel Smith, said, "EEOC will continue to litigate when necessary in cases involving arbitrary and unfair barriers to equal opportunity in the workplace based on sex. The law requires that female applicants be judged on their qualifications and not passed over because of their gender."
The elimination of recruiting and hiring practices that discriminate against women, racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, and people with disabilities is one of six national priorities identified by EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
EEOC's litigation and settlement efforts were led by Senior Trial Attorney Gerald Miller and Trial Attorney Christopher Woolley of its Birmingham District Office.
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.