Company Laid Off Class of Women Workers Based on Gender, Federal Agency Said
SCRANTON, PA. — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced a major settlement of a sex discrimination lawsuit for $1,450,000 and significant equitable relief against Schott North America, a multinational developer and manufacturer of special glass and specialty materials, components and systems, based in Elmsford, N.Y.
The EEOC charged that Schott laid off women because of their sex after a company reorganization in October 2004 of its specialty glass plant in Duryea, Pa. Prior to the reorganization, glass production at the plant was generally divided into two parts, the “hot end” and the “cold end”; 95.3% of the hot-end workers were male and 76.6% of the cold-end workers were female.
As part of the reorganization, the company created a new position of “melting line operator” and used a “skills matrix” to determine who would obtain these new positions. The glass company laid off employees whom it did not select for the melting line operator position. In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that the skills matrix system benefited male employees, did not accurately measure the skills truly needed to perform the melting line operator job and had an adverse impact on female applicants – who were selected for layoff at a significantly higher rate than male employees. The EEOC contended that six plaintiff intervenors and five class members were not selected for melting line operator positions and were laid off because of their sex, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Acting EEOC Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru said, “This significant settlement demonstrates the EEOC's commitment to securing meaningful relief for victims of systemic sex discrimination.”
In addition to the $1.45 million in monetary relief, the three-year consent decree provides substantial equitable relief, including: injunctive relief enjoining Schott from engaging in unlawful discrimination under Title VII or retaliation; annual anti-discrimination training of all supervisors and managers at the Duryea, Pa. facility; and the posting of a notice about the settlement.
“Companies must make hiring and layoff decisions based on the individual’s qualifications and abilities, and not because of gender,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Marie M. Tomasso, who oversaw the agency’s administrative investigation which preceded the litigation. “The EEOC will take action if a company reorganization has an adverse impact on women.”
The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 06-CV-1246) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court. Schott did not admit liability in the consent decree, which is pending judicial approval. Sean P. McDonough, of the Dougherty, Leventhal & Price law firm, and Pete Winebrake, of The Winebrake Law Firm, LLC, represented plaintiff intervenors in their private claims against Schott.
Judith O’Boyle, the supervisory trial attorney responsible for handling the litigation, noted, “We are pleased that the parties were able to resolve this matter and that Schott agreed to a variety of remedial measures designed to prevent problems in the future."
Karen McDonough investigated the charges of discrimination filed with the agency.
According to its web site, www.us.schott.com, “SCHOTT Corporation is the North American headquarters and holding company for the SCHOTT Group. With 16 divisions and subsidiaries in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, SCHOTT Corporation employs approximately 2,500 people for the manufacture and distribution of special glass and glass-related systems. The SCHOTT Group employs 17,300 people worldwide and has sales of approximately $3 billion.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on June 10, 2009.
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