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PRESS RELEASE
9-24-13

Georgia Council for the Hearing-impaired Sued by EEOC for Retaliation

Federal Agency Alleges Organization Breached Mediation Agreement; Retaliated Against Employee for Filing Charge

ATLANTA - The Georgia Council for the Hearing-Impaired, a nonprofit agency that provides services for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, violated federal law by subjecting an employee to retaliation after he filed a discrimination charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency charged in a lawsuit it recently filed.

According to the EEOC's suit, an outreach/training specialist was subjected to repeated acts of retaliation by the company after the employee filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC in October 2012. The employer and employee participated in the EEOC mediation process, which resulted in a mediation settlement agreement. Among other things, the company agreed to provide a neutral employment reference for the employee to all prospective employers who inquire about the employee's job history. According to the EEOC's complaint, instead of providing neutral employment references as agreed, the employer consistently provided negative job references, which sabotaged the employee's ability to obtain work.

The EEOC alleges that the employer's conduct not only constituted a breach of the neutral job reference provision of the mediation settlement agreement, it also violated the anti-retaliation provisions of Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The EEOC filed suit, Civil Action No. 1:13-cv-03144, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The federal agency seeks back pay, front pay, compensatory and punitive damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination and retaliation by the employer in the future.

"It is unfortunate when an employer engages in conduct designed to punish a former employee," said Bernice Williams Kimbrough, district director for the EEOC's Atlanta District Office. "The EEOC will make every effort to protect an employee's right to earn a living without unlawful interference."

Eliminating policies and practices that discourage or prohibit individuals from exercising their rights under employment discrimination statutes, or that impede the EEOC's investigative or enforcement efforts, is one of six national priorities identified by the agency's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.