Elevator Manufacturer Refused to Hire Applicant in Retaliation for a Previous Discrimination Complaint, Federal Agency Charged
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - KONE Inc., a manufacturer and servicer of elevators and escalators, has agreed to pay $85,500 to settle a lawsuit for retaliation and breach of mediation agreement brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC's suit, on May 7, 2009, KONE entered into a mediation settlement agreement with the EEOC and a former employee who had filed a charge of discrimination against KONE for wrongful discharge. Among other relief provided to the employee, the mediation agreement required KONE to recode the employee's personnel file to make her eligible for rehire in the future. Despite the mediation agreement, however, KONE listed the employee as ineligible for rehire in the company's personnel system, which resulted in KONE refusing to rehire her. The EEOC's suit alleged that KONE denied the employee rehire on several occasions from 2009 through 2012.
Such alleged conduct violates the retaliation provisions of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and constitutes a breach of the mediation agreement. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. KONE Inc., Civil Action No. 2:14-cv-02674) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Western Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Besides the $85,500 in monetary relief, the three-year consent decree settling the lawsuit enjoins KONE from subjecting employees to retaliation. The consent decree also requires KONE to provide training on discrimination and retaliation in the workplace, maintain records of any complaints of discrimination, and provide annual reports to the EEOC.
"Employers cannot deny someone employment simply because the person has exercised their protected rights under Title VII," said Faye A. Williams, regional attorney for the EEOC's Memphis District Office, which serves Arkansas, Tennessee and portions of Mississippi. "Federal law requires that all employees and applicants have a right to complain about practices they reasonably believe are unlawful without repercussions. The EEOC will continue to combat retaliation in the workplace and uphold the integrity of its mediation process and agreements."
On June 17, 2015, the Commission held a public meeting on "Retaliation in the Workplace: Cause, Remedies, and Strategies for Prevention."
KONE Inc. is a Delaware corporation with its corporate headquarters in Moline, Ill. KONE manufactures, sells, installs, services and repairs elevators and escalators throughout the United States and internationally. It has more than 30,000 employees.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.