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Federal Court Rules In EEOC’s Favor, Holding That Fired Employees Are Not Required To Return To School

Court Denies Company’s Attempt to Limit Damages in Religious Discrimination Lawsuit; Prevents Defense Expert from Testifying

ROCHESTER,  N.Y. -- Finding that employees have no  obligation to go to school after they are fired, a federal court in Rochester has denied  Dresser-Rand Company’s attempt to limit damages in a long-standing lawsuit  between the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the  company.

In 2004 the EEOC sued Dresser-Rand,  a Houston-based heavy manufacturing company (Civil Action No. 04-6300-CJS in  U.S. District Court for the XXX District of New York), for firing Harry Davis,  a Jehovah’s Witness and a manual machine tool operator at Dresser-Rand’s  Painted Post, N.Y., location, for refusing to work on a part intended for use  in a submarine. In 2006 the court denied  Dresser-Rand’s attempt to dismiss the EEOC’s lawsuit in its entirety, holding  that the jury should decide if an accommodation that had worked in the past –  allowing Davis  to switch assignments with other employees – could continue.

In 2010 Dresser-Rand attempted to  limit Davis’s back pay damages, arguing that he  could have gone to Corning  Community College for  retraining as a computer machinist. On  Aug. 11, 2011, the court denied the motion, holding that employees who are  fired for discriminatory reasons must seek other employment, and are not  required to go to school for retraining.  The court said that because Davis  had sought and found other employment, the fact that he did not go to school  was irrelevant. The court prevented a  defense expert from testifying about the fact that Davis did not go to school. A trial date has not been set.

“This decision makes the important  point that an employee fired for a discriminatory reason is not required to  seek retraining or additional education,” said EEOC New York Regional Attorney  Elizabeth Grossman. “An employer cannot  turn around and argue that its former employee somehow harmed the employer by  not seeking retraining after being fired.”

“Davis did what the law requires: sought and  found work with the skills he had when he was fired by Dresser-Rand,” added  EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Michael J. O’Brien.

The EEOC is responsible for  enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is  available at