Real Estate Management Businesses Underpaid and Refused to Promote Black Assistant Community Manager Because of Her Race, Federal Agency Charged
BALTIMORE - Rinnier Development Company, a commercial and residential real estate company, together with its related companies, will pay $25,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a race discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
The Salisbury, Md.-based Rinnier, which manages six housing communities, hired Shannon Payton, who is African-American, as an assistant community manager at its Arden's Run facility in Princess Anne, Md. The EEOC charged that even though Payton had performed the duties of a community manager, Rinnier paid her lower wages than it paid to white community managers because of her race. The EEOC also charged that Rinnier refused to promote her to a permanent community manager position, and instead promoted five white assistant community managers, including one who had only worked for the company for two months.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division (EEOC v. Rinnier Development Company, et al., Civil Action No. 1:14-cv-03076-JFM), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the $25,000 in monetary relief to Payton, the 18-month consent decree resolving the lawsuit enjoins Rinnier from engaging in any future race discrimination or otherwise violating Title VII. Rinnier will provide training on the federal equal employment opportunity laws to management personnel, officers and those responsible for making compensation and promotion decisions. Rinnier will report to the EEOC about how it handled any internal complaints of alleged race discrimination and post a notice regarding the settlement.
"The EEOC is committed to eliminating barriers that prevent African-American employees from getting the promotions for which they are qualified and the equal pay they have earned," said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "The law is clear that pay and promotion decisions should be made based on someone's qualifications and not her race. We are pleased that this settlement remedies the situation and implements training and other equitable relief designed to prevent race discrimination."
Rinnier Development Company is a commercial and residential real estate company. Rinnier Management, LLC, manages six housing communities with residential leases. Parkside Associates, LLC is the entity through which the employees involved in residential leases are paid. All three entities are located in Salisbury, Md., where the alleged discrimination took place.
The EEOC Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. The legal staff of the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecutes discrimination cases arising from Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.