Company Demoted Employee Because of Arthritis and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Federal Agency Charged
SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Taprite Fassco Manufacturing, Inc., a San Antonio-based manufacturer of CO2 regulators in the soda and beer industries, will pay $72,500 and furnish other relief to settle a gender, disability and retaliation-based discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC's lawsuit charged that Taprite Fassco subjected a female quality control employee to sex-based wage discrimination, disability discrimination and unlawful retaliation after she raised questions to management concerning wage disparity between the sexes. The suit said that Taprite Fassco paid a male over three dollars an hour more than the female employee for performing substantially equal jobs at the same location. The federal agency claimed that the company also retaliated against the female employee for complaining about the wage discrimination by demoting her into a less favorable and lower-paying position that she could not perform because of physical limitations resulting from rheumatoid arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. The EEOC's lawsuit also alleged that Taprite Fassco denied the female employee's requests for reasonable accommodation for her disability such as reassignment to her previous position that would have permitted her to continue working.
The claims resolved by the settlement of the EEOC's enforcement action include violations of multiple federal anti-discrimination statutes, including the Equal Pay Act (EPA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit, Civil Action No. 5:14-cv-00801, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
"Addressing sex-based pay disparity in the workplace remains a priority for the EEOC," said David Rivela, senior trial attorney in the EEOC's San Antonio Field Office (SAFO). "The EEOC will vigorously enforce the EPA and Title VII when we find an employer has no justifiable basis for paying a female less than a male counterpart. Employees have a right to seek redress of practices they believe are unlawful without repercussions that cost them even greater economic loss."
Eduardo Juarez, EEOC supervisory trial attorney, added, "This case is important in that it puts a light on what continues to be a significant deficit in the earnings of women in the workplace when compared to men. The company's decision to also deny her reasonable accommodation request so she could continue working exacerbated the problem."
As part of the consent decree resolving the suit (entered by Judge David A. Ezra), Taprite Fassco will pay $72,500 to the former female employee. The company also agreed to ensure that its employment policies conform with the law, implement training which specifically addresses sex and disability discrimination, and post EEO notices at the workplace.
EEOC's Dallas district director, Janet Elizondo, said, "We appreciate Taprite Fassco's efforts to resolve this lawsuit quickly, fairly and without incurring unnecessary litigation expenses. This settlement, including the implementation of an effective policy against discrimination and EEO training, demonstrates a commitment to provide a non-discriminatory work environment for its employees."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.