NEWARK, N.J. - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today resolved its consolidated lawsuits against General Motors Corporation (GM) alleging violations of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act at the company's Linden, N.J., facility. The suits, filed in September 2000, alleged that GM had failed to provide Mary Scott a work environment free from sexual harassment and similarly failed to address incidents of racial harassment affecting her and other African- American employees. In addition, the EEOC charged that Melvin Wood was retaliated against when he supported Ms. Scott's complaints to management about discriminatory treatment.
Under Title VII, it is illegal to deny any person an employment opportunity because of his or her race, color, religion, sex or national origin. In addition, it is unlawful to retaliate against a person who complains about treatment that he or she reasonably believes is discriminatory.
The consent decree (case number 00-4735), filed in the District Court of New Jersey in Newark, was entered into by the parties without any admission of liability for the purpose of avoiding delays, costs, and disruptions involved in the prosecution and defense of lawsuits.
According to the settlement, GM will pay $1.25 million to Ms. Scott, Mr. Wood, and a group of 14 other African-American workers who had alleged they had been subjected to racial harassment on the job. GM also agreed to revise its procedures, to report the results of all investigations of complaints, and to continue to train all employees in positions of authority concerning worker rights and employer responsibilities under Title VII.
"I am very pleased that we were able to negotiate a prompt and successful resolution of these lawsuits," said EEOC Chair Cari M. Dominguez. "Now General Motors can turn its full attention back to the important task of further developing and implementing employment policies and procedures designed to ensure healthy work environments that are free of unlawful harassment."
"The Commission applauds the willingness of the attorneys involved in this matter to work quickly and thoroughly to craft a resolution to these lawsuits," said EEOC Regional Attorney Jacqueline McNair. "The parties can now focus their energies on getting the word out to plant employees that racial and sexual harassment are illegal, and on setting up an effective complaint procedure to address allegations of discrimination."
In addition to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the EEOC enforces Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; the Equal Pay Act, which calls for equal pay for equal work; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991; and prohibitions against discrimination affecting persons with disabilities in the federal government. Further information about the Commission is available on the agency's Web site at www.eeoc.gov.