U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


Izza Bending Tube & Wire Resolves EEOC Retaliation Lawsuit

Employee  Was Demoted and Then Fired When She Refused to Discriminate Against  African-American Employee, Federal Agency Charged

MINNEAPOLIS - A Buffalo, Minn., metal services company will pay $45,000  under a consent decree entered here which resolves a lawsuit alleging retaliation  filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency  announced today.

According to the EEOC's suit, Izza Bending Tube & Wire retaliated  against employee Myrna Peltonen when it demoted her and reduced her salary  after she refused to discriminate against an African-American employee. The EEOC's lawsuit charged that Izza's  manager instructed Peltonen not to hire the black employee, who was working as  a temporary employee, to a permanent position, and told her to get rid of him  because of his race. The EEOC's lawsuit  further alleged that after Peltonen filed a discrimination charge with the  EEOC, she was laid off and then terminated as retaliation.

Retaliation for opposing employment discrimination or for filing a  charge with the EEOC violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court  for the District of Minnesota, Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission v. Izza Bending Tube & Wire, Inc., Civil  Action No. 0:13-cv-02570, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation  settlement through its conciliation process.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan W. Frank signed the consent decree  resolving the lawsuit on September 18, and notice was provided to counsel  today. The decree provides $45,000 in  monetary relief to Peltonen, and requires Izza to report to the EEOC all  employee complaints of retaliation at its workplace located in Buffalo,  Minn. The company must also train its  employees on their rights to be free from discrimination and retaliation under  Title VII, and train its management personnel on federal law prohibiting  retaliation.

"Preserving access to the legal system is one of the EEOC's priorities  outlined in its Strategic Enforcement Plan, and the EEOC will vigorously  litigate cases where employees have been retaliated against for opposing  discrimination or filing an EEOC charge," said John Hendrickson, the EEOC's  regional attorney in Chicago. "The  consent decree puts in place training and policies to ensure that Izza managers  and employees are aware of the law against retaliation."

EEOC Chicago District Director John Rowe, who managed the EEOC's  administrative investigation of the charge of discrimination underlying the  lawsuit, added, "Retaliation is a growing issue in the workplace, and  represents the largest number of charges filed with the EEOC last year. Employers cannot demote or fire employees for  exercising their civil rights to complain about discrimination."

In addition to Hendrickson, EEOC  Associate Regional Attorney Jean P. Kamp in Chicago, and Senior Trial Attorney  Tina Burnside in Minneapolis litigated the case on behalf of the  government.

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 enforces federal laws prohibiting employment  discrimination. Further information  about the EEOC is available on its website at