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Golf International Sued by EEOC for Retaliation

Golf Club Operator Fired Employee Twice for Reporting Discrimination and Filing EEOC Charge, Federal Agency Charges

PHOENIX – A Fountain Hills, Ariz., golf club violated federal law by retaliating against a male employee who reported the sexual harassment of female employees, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC’s suit against Golf International, Inc., which does business as The Steakhouse at Desert Canyon and Desert Canyon Golf Club, Jeffrey White submitted an internal complaint to Golf International’s general manager that included a report that several female employees felt they had been sexually harassed by the head chef.  The EEOC said that Golf International fired White the day after it received his complaint. 

The EEOC also charged that after White reported this retaliation to the EEOC, Golf International offered to rehire him but conditioned this offer upon his withdrawal of the EEOC charge. White insisted on pursuing the EEOC charge, and Golf International refused to rehire him, the agency said.  Golf International later rehired White, but terminated him again several weeks later.  The EEOC further charged that Golf International provided negative information on White to other employers.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits retaliation against employees who report discriminatory conduct in the workplace.  The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Golf International, Inc. d/b/a The Steakhouse at Desert Canyon and Desert Canyon Golf Club, 2:11-cv-00949-DKD) in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for White, as well as appropriate injunctive relief to prevent any further discriminatory practices.

“It is particularly important for the EEOC to vigorously enforce the anti-retaliation provisions in our employment discrimination laws,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office.  “The threat of retaliation can prevent employees from raising legitimate concerns with their employer out of fear for their jobs.”

EEOC Phoenix District Director Rayford Irvin added, “If employees do not feel comfortable coming forward to report discriminatory acts, the very purpose of the anti-discrimination statutes is eviscerated.”

The EEOC’s Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and part of New Mexico (including Albuquerque). 

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at