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PRESS RELEASE
5-8-17

Education Company to Pay $57,000 to Settle EEOC Sex Discrimination Suit

Special Education Associates Rescinded Job Offer to Applicant  When She Refused to 'Party' With CEO, Federal Agency Charged

NEW YORK - Special Education Associates, Inc., which provides educational services to students with developmental and learning disabilities in New York City, will pay $57,000 and furnish other relief to resolve a sex discrimination suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC's complaint, the company's chief executive officer asked a job applicant out on a date and suggested that she "party" with him right after he offered her a job at the company. After the applicant declined and said that she hoped that "we can move forward in a strictly professional manner," the company declined to hire her. Instead, the CEO conducted additional interviews and hired a male candidate, the EEOC said.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in hiring based on sex and likewise forbids retaliating against individuals who object to such discrimination. Sex discrimination includes denying an individual an employment opportunity or a benefit of employment because he or she rejected an unwelcome sexual advance. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (EEOC v. Special Education Associates, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-01791), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

"The EEOC appreciates this company's willingness to resolve this case without protracted litigation," said Jeffrey Burstein, the EEOC's regional attorney for the New York District Office. "The agency remains committed to enforcing federal law to ensure that women do not face discriminatory barriers to full and equal participation in the workforce."

Under the consent decree settling the suit, the company will pay the job applicant $57,000 in lost wages and damages and will adopt new anti-discrimination policies and procedures. The decree bars the company in the future from conditioning job opportunities, promotions, compensation, or other terms of employment on an individual's willingness to meet individually with the company's chief executive officer outside of the workplace. The decree also requires annual, live, in-person training on anti-discrim­ination laws for all employees, including the chief executive officer.

EEOC New York District Director Kevin Berry said, "There is nothing ambiguous about the laws against sexual harassment. Employers cannot condition hiring or promotion on an employee's willingness to go out on a date."

The New York District Office of the EEOC is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in New York, northern New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

The 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.