East San Jose Bakery Subjected Latina Clerk to Verbal Abuse, Then Punished Her for Complaining, Federal Agency Charged
SAN JOSE, Calif. - East San Jose-based Peters' Bakery will pay $40,000 to a Latina employee and implement preventive measures to settle a national origin harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
EEOC lawsuit charged that bakery owner Charles "Chuck" Peters verbally abused sales clerk Marcela Ramirez with frequent racial and ethnic epithets, wrongfully discharged her, and then retaliated against her for complaining to EEOC by filing a frivolous defamation lawsuit in small-claims court. A union arbitrator determined that Ramirez was terminated without just cause and ordered the bakery to reinstate her with back pay and benefits. Even when Judge Beth Labson Freeman issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting Peters' from firing Ramirez, the bakery later removed Ramirez from the work schedule while continuing to pay her.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits harassment due to race or national origin and protects workers who report such discrimination from retaliation. After first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through conciliation, EEOC filed its lawsuit (EEOC v. Peters' Bakery, Case No. 5:13-CV-04507 BLF) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, on Sept. 30, 2013.
According to the five-year consent decree, Peters' will not only pay Ramirez $40,000 but it will take steps to prevent future discrimination. Owner Chuck Peters will be required to receive individual anti-discrimination training. The company will contract with an independent EEO consultant to develop appropriate equal employment opportunity policies, train managers and employees, and field discrimination complaints. In addition, the company will adopt a complaint procedure, conduct annual training for all employees, and submit regular reports to EEOC regarding any further complaints of discrimination.
"We are pleased with the resolution which benefits everyone involved," said EEOC San Francisco Trial Attorney Peter Laura. "It's important to invest in prevention and education to uphold the promise of equal opportunity in workplaces of all sizes."
EEOC San Francisco District Director William Tamayo added, "EEOC will vigorously defend employees' rights to report discrimination without fear of retaliation - as in this case, where we obtained a preliminary injunction to block the bakery from firing Ms. Ramirez."
Preserving access to the legal system is one of the six national priorities identified by the federal agency's Strategic Enforcement Plan.
Peters' Bakery is a family-owned business that has been operating for over 75 years at its East San Jose location.
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov