Woman Was Denied Promotion and Fired Because of Gender, Federal Agency Charged
DENVER – H&E Equipment Services, Inc., one of the nation’s largest dealers in heavy equipment, will pay $125,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The lawsuit, filed on Sept. 28, 2011 in federal court in Denver, charged H&E with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by failing to promote and then laying off a female supervisor because of her gender. H&E is a Delaware corporation registered to do business in Colorado; its headquarters are in Baton Rouge, La. The alleged discrimination occurred at its Denver-area facility.
According to the EEOC’s suit, EEOC v. H&E Equip. Serv’s Inc., 11-cv-02546-WYD-BNB, the branch manager at H&E’s Henderson, Colo., facility offered a male employee a rental manager position that he denied to Kathleen Wooten, the rental supervisor. In doing so, the branch manager said that he didn’t think women could be managers in the construction industry. Wooten then complained of sex discrimination, only to be laid off and replaced by a male employee, the EEOC alleged.
In addition to the monetary settlement, the two-year agreement which resolves the lawsuit contains non-monetary relief. H&E will review its written equal employment opportunity policies and complaint reporting procedures. The company will also provide training against sex discrimination and retaliation to all Colorado employees and to all higher-level managers nationwide. The agreement also requires that H&E use non-discriminatory criteria for conducting layoffs, and that it report to EEOC semi-annually regarding compliance with the agreement.
“Unfortunately, there are too many industries in which too many people don’t get the simple but crucial principle of equality between the sexes,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the Phoenix District, which includes Colorado. “The EEOC is committed to protecting the rights of women in such industries and will support both men and women who confront misogynistic attitudes.”
EEOC Denver Field Office Director Nancy Sienko added, “We encourage women to stand up for their rights and to file charges with the EEOC if they feel they have been the victims of glass ceiling restrictions or sex discrimination. Without courageous people willing to file charges, the EEOC cannot completely fulfill its mission to promote a work force free from discrimination.”
The EEOC’s Phoenix District Office covers Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and part of New Mexico.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.