Trucking Company Terminated Female Driver Because She Complained About Pay Discrimination, Federal Agency Charges
BALTIMORE - Hagerstown, Md.-based commercial trucking company Winebrenner Transfer, Inc., unlawfully fired a female driver because she complained about pay discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
According to the EEOC's suit, Tina Thompson worked as a truck driver for Winebrenner for one year with satisfactory job performance. After discussions with male co-workers, Thompson believed she was paid less than male drivers even though she was doing equal work, according to the lawsuit. When Thompson complained twice to the owner about the perceived pay discrimination, each time he replied that he would pay her what he wanted. The owner retaliated against Thompson by firing her one day after she sent him a text message saying she believed she was paid less than male co-workers for the same work, the EEOC charges.
The day after terminating Thompson, the owner suggested she should just quit to avoid "looking bad" to future employers. When Thompson refused, Winebrenner further retaliated against her by giving negative references to her prospective employers, including telling at least one potential employer that she was "uncooperative," the EEOC said in its lawsuit.
Such alleged conduct violates the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Winebrenner Transfer, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:13-cv-02797-GLR) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking injunctive relief prohibiting Winebrenner from engaging in unlawful retaliation, equitable relief that provides equal employment opportunities for women, as well as lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages and other affirmative relief for Thompson.
"Employees have the right to ask their boss about sex-based pay discrimination issues," said EEOC Philadelphia Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. "It is illegal for a company first to fire an employee and then to attempt to prevent her from earning a living elsewhere simply because she complained that she thought she was paid less based on her gender."
EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. added, "The EEOC takes retaliation allegations very seriously. The EEOC cannot enforce its mission if employees fear they will be fired for asking about discrimination in the workplace."
The Philadelphia District Office of the EEOC oversees Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.