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PRESS RELEASE
11-18-16

EEOC Sues East Coast Labor Solutions for Disability and National Origin Discrimination

Staffing Agency Discriminated Against Latino Workers Who Were Recruited With Promise of Good Pay, Federal Agency Charges

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - An Alabama temporary staffing firm violated federal law by subjecting Latino workers to unequal working conditions and failing to provide accommodations to those with disabilities, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed on Nov. 15.

EEOC charged that Labor Solutions of Alabama, LLC, formerly known as East Coast Labor Solutions, LLC, recruited Hispanic workers to work at a Pilgrim's Pride poultry processing facility in Guntersville, Ala. After hire, the company subjected the Latino workers to less favorable terms and conditions of employment than non-Hispanic workers, said the federal agency. For example, Latino workers were segregated in less desirable, more hazardous positions, paid less, and provided fewer hours than their non-Hispanic counterparts. In addition, East Coast Labor Solutions deducted exorbitant relocation, housing and transportation fees from the workers' pay. EEOC further claims East Coast Labor Solutions did nothing to address complaints made by the Latino workers about ongoing harassment that included ethnic slurs, threats and verbal abuse.

The suit also alleges East Coast Labor Solutions violated federal law when it refused to accommodate the disabilities of the Hispanic workers, many of whom developed repetitive motion impairments due to the hazardous working conditions at Pilgrim's Pride.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Title VII prohibits a private employer from treating employees differently based on their national origin and requires that the employer provide a work environment free from harassment. The ADA mandates that private employers provide reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities, absent undue hardship, and prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities.

EEOC filed its lawsuit against Labor Solutions, EEOC v. East Coast Labor Solutions of AL, LLC f/k/a East Coast Labor Solutions, LLC, Case No.4:16-cv-1848 SGC, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC seeks a court order requiring that the company comply with the ADA and Title VII. In addition, EEOC also seeks lost wages and benefits, compensatory and punitive damages, and other relief for victims and the public.

"In addition to national origin discrimination, this case involves violations of the rights of people with disabilities," said Delner-Franklin Thomas, district director of EEOC's Birmingham District Office, which has jurisdiction over Alabama, portions of Mississippi and Florida. "When employers ignore requests for disability accommodations made by any employee, whether temporary or permanent, foreign- or domestic-born, they may run afoul of federal law."

EEOC Birmingham Regional Attorney C. Emanuel Smith added, "The goal of Title VII is to ensure employers treat their employees equally, regardless of national origin. EEOC will continue to take action against staffing companies that violate the law and protect all employees against discrimination, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status."

One of the six national priorities identified by EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) is for the agency to protect vulnerable workers, including immigrant temporary workers, and address emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including issues involving the ADA.

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 .