U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Wisconsin Company Held in Contempt for Failure to Provide Information and Pay EEOC's Attorney's Fees
MADISON, WISCONSIN - North Broadway Holdings, Inc., owner of a restaurant previously known as Sparx Restaurant, and currently operating as a Denny's franchise in Menomonie, Wisconsin, has been held in contempt of court under an order issued by United States District Judge Barbara B. Crabb on July 28, 2015. The contempt sanction stems from North Broadway Holdings' violation of a court order requiring it to submit information to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding its financial status and assets and to pay attorney's fees to the EEOC.
EEOC obtained a judgment against North Broadway Holdings, together with affiliated companies, after a jury verdict finding that the company had retaliated against an employee, Dion Miller, by firing him after he complained about a racist posting in his workplace at the Sparx restaurant. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), employees have a right to oppose discrimination and it is unlawful for an employer to take action against an employee who exercises that right. The defendants appealed and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld the verdict in an opinion issued earlier this year.
North Broadway Holdings failed to pay the judgment and EEOC began efforts to collect the amount owed, currently over $82,000. EEOC sought information about the company's financial status and assets from North Broadway Holdings, and ultimately obtained a court order requiring it to provide the information. North Broadway Holdings failed to comply as ordered. It was also ordered to pay attorney's fees to EEOC, but failed to do this as well.
The court's order holds North Broadway Holdings in contempt of court, and imposes a fine of $1,000 for every day until the company complies with the court's order by providing complete information to EEOC and paying the attorney's fees. The court's order also awards additional attorney's fees to EEOC for bringing the contempt motion. These fees are imposed on both North Broadway Holdings and its attorneys, Michael D. Schwartz and Brandon M. Schwartz, of the Schwartz Law Firm, located in Oakdale, Minnesota.
John Hendrickson, regional attorney for EEOC's Chicago District, which includes Minnesota and Wisconsin, said: "A court's order is an order. Companies don't get to decide whether to follow an order or not, and if they fail to comply, the court has the power to sanction them."
"EEOC is committed to obtaining justice for Dion Miller, including collecting the amount owed to him after his rights were vindicated in court. We will continue to pursue all available avenues to see that he is made whole," added Jean Kamp, associate regional attorney for the district.
In addition to the contempt order, EEOC also obtained an order permitting it to garnish North Broadway Holdings' bank account to satisfy the judgment.
EEOC is represented in this case by Senior Trial Attorneys Laurie Vasichek and Jessica Palmer-Denig of EEOC's Minneapolis Area Office, together with Jean P. Kamp, under the management of the agency's Chicago District Office. That office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, with area offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.