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PRESS RELEASE
4-26-16

Lawler Foods to Pay over $1 Million to Settle EEOC Race and National Origin Discrimination Suit

Bakery Refused to Hire Applicants Based on Their Race/National Origin, Federal Agency Alleged

HOUSTON - A large local bakery will pay $1,042,000 as part of the settlement of a class race and national origin discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC had charged that Lawler Foods, Inc. and Lawler Foods, Ltd. discriminated against three applicants and a class of African-American and non-Hispanic applicants by failing to hire them into entry-level jobs at Lawler's Humble, Texas-area facility because of their race.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination because of race and national origin.

The EEOC filed the lawsuit (Civil Action No. 4:14-cv-03588) on Dec. 16, 2014 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its statutory conciliation process. In the lawsuit, EEOC alleged that Lawler had violated Title VII by engaging in a pattern or practice of intentionally failing to hire black and other non-Hispanic applicants for jobs, and by using hiring practices, including word-of-mouth recruiting and advertising a Spanish-language preference, that had an adverse disparate impact on black and other non-Hispanic applicants without any business justification.

In addition to the monetary claims fund, the four-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit enjoins Lawler from engaging in race or national origin discrimination or retaliation in the future, and provides substantial non-monetary relief. Among other things, Lawler will:

  • seek to recruit and hire black and other non-Hispanic job applicants for its production jobs;
  • conduct an extensive self-assessment of its hiring to ensure non-discrimination and compliance with the terms of the consent decree;
  • conduct employee training to further its non-discrimination commitment; and
  • designate an internal leader to prioritize compliance with the requirements of the consent decree.

"We are pleased that we have reached an agreement," said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez. "Moving forward, qualified applicants will be judged by their talents and skill and not passed over because of their race or national origin -- and those who were wrongfully denied positions will be compensated."

EEOC Houston District Director Rayford O. Irvin said, "Eliminating barriers in hiring is a high priority for EEOC. We trust that this settlement will serve as an example to all employers that this agency takes race discrimination seriously and will vigorously protect people's rights to challenge discrimination. Employers must focus only on the qualifications of an individual when making hiring decisions."

Jim Sacher, regional attorney of the EEOC's Houston District Office, added, "We're pleased to have helped resolve this enforcement action with the leadership of Lawler, a forward-looking company which continues to provide job opportunities for the greater Houston area."

One of EEOC's six priorities identified in its Strategic Enforcement Plan is eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, particularly class-based intentional recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic, and religious groups, older workers, women and people with disabilities.

EEOC's Houston District Office oversees Southeast Texas, which includes Houston, as well as the New Orleans Field Office, which covers the State of Louisiana.

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