Manufacturer Refused to Hire Women as Temporary Workers, Federal Agency Charged
CHICAGO - Federal District Judge Milton Shadur has entered a consent decree resolving a sex hiring lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The case, 11-CV-879, was filed in the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.
The EEOC had charged that Illini Precast, a manufacturer of prefabricated concrete construction panels, failed to engage any female temporary laborers at its Marseilles, Ill., facility. The company, which is involved primarily in providing prefabricated components for parking structures, is headquartered in Westchester, Ill.
Based upon the findings of an EEOC administrative investigation managed by Chicago District Director John Rowe, the lawsuit claimed that in October 2008, a qualified woman applied for a general laborer position, but was denied employment due to her gender. In its answer, Illini claimed that it was not an "employer" as defined by the civil rights statutes because it had fewer than 15 employees and that it was not responsible for the placement of laborers at its facility because it had contracted with a staffing agency.
EEOC guidance, and relevant case law, holds that temporary workers may be counted when determining if a company has enough employees to come under the provisions of the civil rights laws and that companies can be held responsible for the discriminatory hiring practices of the temporary agencies on which they rely.
"Employers are mistaken if they think they can 'contract away' their obligations under Title VII," said John Hendrickson, regional attorney in the EEOC's Chicago District Office. "Temporary or staffing agencies are acting as their agents in providing them with workers. If the staffing agency is sending them only employees of one sex or one race, this should set off alarm bells. Employers should realize that this is likely a problem that they have to fix."
Under the terms of the decree, Illini will pay $27,682 to the applicant. The applicant had previously received $60,000 as part of a conciliation agreement with the staffing agency that placed workers at Illini. Among other relief provided under the decree, within 60 days Illini will enter into a relationship with a local high school or vocational training program in order to encourage women to apply for work through staffing agencies used by Illini. Illini will also have to notify its staffing agencies that it is an equal opportunity employer and ensure that any advertisements also notify applicants that it is an equal opportunity employer.
Supervisory Trial Attorney Gregory Gochanour and Trial Attorneys Ethan Cohen and Laura Feldman led EEOC's litigation efforts.
The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the Commission is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.