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PRESS RELEASE
8-11-16

Georgia Council for the Hearing-Impaired To Pay $10,000 to Settle EEEOC Retaliation Lawsuit

Organization Retaliated Against Employee for Filing EEOC Charge, Federal Agency Said

ATLANTA - The Georgia Council for the Hearing-Impaired, Inc. (GACHI), a nonprofit organization in Decatur, Ga., that provides services for the deaf and hard of hearing, will pay $10,000 and furnish other relief to settle a retaliation discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

EEOC filed suit in 2013, charging that GACHI retaliated against Stephen Patterson, a former outreach / training specialist, after he filed an EEOC charge against the organization in October 2012. Patterson and GACHI had signed an agreement to resolve Patterson's October 2012 EEOC charge. In that agreement, among other things, the company agreed to provide a neutral employment reference for Patterson to all prospective employers who inquired about Patterson's job history. According to EEOC's complaint, instead of providing neutral employment references as agreed, GACHI provided negative job references to more than one prospective employer, which unlawfully interfered with Patterson's ability to obtain work.

Such alleged conduct violates the anti-retaliation provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division (Civil Action No. 1:13-cv-3144-WBH) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to providing monetary relief for Patterson, the consent decree settling the lawsuit includes provisions for equal employment opportunity training by the organization, reporting by the organization to EEOC, and the posting of a notice to the organization's employees regarding its obligation to comply with all federal anti-discrimination laws.

Eliminating policies and practices that discourage or prohibit individuals from exercising their rights under employment discrimination statutes, or that impede EEOC's investigative or enforcement efforts, is one of six national priorities identified by the agency's Strategic Enforcement Plan.

EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.