Allsup’s Fired Managerial Employee After Learning of His Cooperation with the EEOC on Co-Worker’s Claim of Discrimination, Federal Agency Charged
DALLAS – New Mexico-based Allsup’s Convenience Stores, Inc., which operates over 300 stores in Texas and New Mexico, will pay a former employee $37,000 and furnish other relief to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit (Civil Action No. 6:10-CV-023-C) filed in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, Las Cruces Division and subsequently transferred to the Northern District of Texas, San Angelo Division, Orvel Pape, a manager-in-training who had worked for the company for almost ten years, was fired because he cooperated with an EEOC investigation of another employee’s charge of disability discrimination. The EEOC charged that Allsup’s fired Pape from its store in Santa Anna, Texas, shortly after the company was notified that Pape’s statements led to an EEOC finding of violation in connection with the other employee’s charge of discrimination. That charge was filed under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
The suit was brought pursuant to the ADA, which includes a section prohibiting discrimination against any individual based on that individual’s testimony, assistance, or participation in any manner in an investigation into an alleged ADA violation. The Commission filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
“Mr. Pape, a dedicated ten-year employee, was asked by Allsup’s to speak with an EEOC Investigator about his co-worker’s allegations of discrimination, and was dealt the ultimate punishment for simply following those instructions,” said EEOC Trial Attorney Meaghan Shepard. “No employee should fear that cooperating with the EEOC will result in the end of their employment.”
In addition to the payment to Pape, the consent decree settling the suit requires the company to train its managers on retaliation and the company’s procedures for reporting complaints of discrimination, as well as how to properly handle an employee’s discrimination complaint. Allsup’s will also post a notice of non-discrimination and distribute that document to supervisors at the company’s annual training.
“We will always be willing to aggressively pursue the claim of an employee who we believe is punished for providing honest testimony in a federal investigation,” said Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino of the EEOC’s Dallas District Office. “It is of overriding importance to our agency to thaw the chilling effect of such retaliation, and thereby ensure the freedom and motivation of co-workers to do the right thing. The company’s agreement to re-train its large workforce will go a long way in establishing a more positive climate.”
In fiscal year 2010, retaliation charges filed with the EEOC nationwide accounted for 36.3% of all filings, at 36,258.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.