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Press Release 03-27-2012

EEOC Sues OfficeMax for Retaliating Against Sales Associate

Hispanic Employee at Sarasota Store Punished for Complaining About Race Discrimination, Federal Agency Charged

SARASOTA – Office supply giant OfficeMax violated federal law when a manager at one of its Sarasota stores retaliated against a Hispanic sales associate when he complained about race discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, OfficeMax's human resources department became aware of allegations raised by a Hispanic sales associate in mid-June 2009, when he was fired by his store manager. Although OfficeMax rehired the associate following his internal complaint of race discrimination, the manager began to engage in a pattern of retaliatory conduct towards the sales associate, which included unwarranted and disparate discipline, disciplinary actions based on false accusations and a reduction in hours. The retaliatory conduct was ongoing, notwithstanding the sales associate's numerous and continued complaints, until the employee was forced to resign from his position.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. OfficeMax, Case No. 8:12-cv-643-T-17MAP) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division after attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

"Complaints of retaliation are not taken lightly by the EEOC," said Malcolm Medley, district director of the EEOC's Miami District Office. "When an employee exercises his or her right to oppose unfair practices, they need to feel secure in exercising that right."

The EEOC's Miami regional attorney, Robert E. Weisberg, added, "All employers must respect federal anti-discrimination law. The EEOC will actively prosecute employers who perpetrate or condone unlawful conduct."

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's website at