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Red Bird Machinery Repair to Pay $22,000 to Settle EEOC Retaliation Lawsuit

Company Fired Employee in Retaliation for Complaining About Previous Employer, Federal Agency Charges

CHICAGO - An Eldorado, Ill.-based heavy equipment repair company will pay $22,000 and provide other significant relief to settle a lawsuit for retaliation filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

Red Bird Machinery Repair places employees to work at mines in southern Illinois. According to the EEOC's lawsuit, an employee worked for Red Bird from December 2016 to March 2017 as a miner / laborer. During his employment with Red Bird, the employee filed a discrimination charge against a previous employer. Red Bird fired the employee in retaliation for that, the EEOC said.

This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against or terminate an employee because he has filed a discrimination charge. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois (Equal Employment Oppor­tunity Commission v. Red Bird Machinery Repair, LLC., Civil Action No. 3:18-cv-01769-SMY-MAB) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to paying the $22,000 in monetary relief to the employee, the five-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit enjoins Red Bird from engaging in future retaliation against any person because he or she has opposed discrimination under Title VII, filed a charge of discrimination or complained about it. It also enjoins Red Bird from discriminating against anyone who has testified or parti­cipated in an investigation, proceeding or hearing under Title VII. The decree also requires Red Bird to provide training to its employees about Title VII's provisions prohibiting retaliation. The company will also report to the EEOC on complaints of retaliation made during the decree's term.

"Federal law clearly prohibits employers from punishing any of their people for protesting discrimination - even against a previous employer," said Julianne Bowman, district director of the EEOC's Chicago District. "The EEOC will continue to vigorously protect employees against this sort of intimidation." 

Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC's Chicago District, said, "The EEOC will not allow an employer to retaliate against someone because he or she has filed a charge with the EEOC. Such bullying can have a chilling effect and discourage others from coming forward to complain about discrimination or file charges. The EEOC will continue to enforce the right of employees to speak out about discrimination without the fear of losing their jobs."

The EEOC's litigation effort was led by Senior Trial Attorney Tina Burnside and supervised by Associate Regional Attorney Jean Kamp. The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and litigation in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.