EEOC Settles Suit Against Mutual Fund Giant for Firing Black Employee Who Complained About Race Discrimination
PHILADELPHIA — Valley Forge, Pa.-based The Vanguard Group, Inc., one of the world’s largest investment management companies, will pay $500,000 and provide other relief to settle a retaliation lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that following an African American employee’s complaints of race discrimination, Vanguard subjected him to a series of adverse employment actions culminating in his termination.
Raymond Ross, of Maple Glen, Pa., began working for Vanguard in March 1993 and received favorable performance reviews throughout his employment, according to the EEOC. In 1998, he received a promotion to Engineer V, the highest non-officer grade for a non-supervisory employee. In January 2002, however, he began to report to a different department and a new set of managers at Vanguard’s Malvern, Pa. office.
The EEOC said in its lawsuit (Civil Action No. 04-4126) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania), that beginning in April 2002, Ross complained that he was being treated less favorably and discriminated against based on his race. Thereafter, the EEOC said, Ross began to experience acts of retaliation, including unfavorable changes in his work conditions and assignments, from the managers he accused of race discrimination. The EEOC said that this pattern of retaliation resulted in Ross’s termination on July 29, 2003.
Race discrimination, as well as retaliation for complaining about it, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). The EEOC attempted to reach a settlement through its conciliation process before filing suit.
In addition to the $500,000 in monetary relief, the consent decree settling the suit requires that Vanguard provide equitable relief, including: drafting in plain English a policy opposing illegal discrimination, harassment and retaliation, and making the policy available to all employees; having a complaint procedure for violations of company policies against discrimination and retaliation; and providing anti-discrimination training to managers, supervisors and human resources employees. The company will also report to the EEOC on any complaints of unlawful retaliation it receives and on its compliance with the consent decree.
“The Commission’s ability to enforce Title VII and the other anti-discrimination laws would be severely curtailed if employees fear that they will suffer reprisal if they complain to their company about discrimination,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Jacqueline McNair, of the agency’s Philadelphia District Office. “The half-million-dollar resolution of this lawsuit should send the message loud and clear to employers that retaliation is unacceptable and the EEOC will take strong action to protect the ability of employees to exercise their rights.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.