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PRESS RELEASE
8-9-18

EEOC Sues Metairie Dry Cleaner for Discrimination and Retaliation

Marion's Cleaners Fired Hispanic Employee for Opposing Verbal and Physical Abuse Based on Her Race and National Origin, Agency Says

NEW ORLEANS - New Orleans-based Mariam Enterprises, doing business as Marion's Cleaners in Metairie, La., violated federal law by subjecting a Hispanic employee from Mexico to race and national origin harassment and discrimination as well as retaliation for complaining about it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed here today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, one of the company's employees spent months continually telling Emilia Rodelo that she "needed to go back to Mexico," that she "was nothing," a "stupid Mexican," a "dirty Mexican," and telling her to "shut up" when speaking Spanish. When Rodelo reported the comments to Marion's Cleaners, the company did nothing to stop the abuse. Eventually Rodelo herself asked the employee to stop making the comments and the employee responded by grabbing her by the hair, repeatedly punching her in the face, and then pressing her against an exposed steam pipe. Rodelo suffered severe, second-degree burns and trauma as a result of the incident.

The EEOC charged that Marion's Cleaners fired Rodelo several days later because, by reporting the incident, she "had been a problem." Marion's Cleaners did not fire or even discipline the employee who harassed and attacked her.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from retaliating against those who complain about such misconduct in addition to prohibiting race and national origin discrimination. The EEOC filed its suit (Civil Action No. 2:18-cv-07498) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The EEOC seeks to permanently enjoin Marion's Cleaners from engaging in future discrimination and retaliation. It has also asked the court to order Marion's Cleaners to pay Rodelo both punitive and compensatory damages.

"No person deserves to be verbally and physically accosted and humiliated merely because of being born in a particular country or being of a particular race," said Rudy Sustaita, regional attorney for the EEOC's Houston District Office. "Nor should any person be fired because she sought the help and protection of the law. The EEOC will ensure that when an employer callously disregards the basic human rights of its employees, it will be held accountable."

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.