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Press Release 12-02-2008


Company Refused to Hire Men into Weight Loss Counselor and Other Jobs, Agency Alleged


BALTIMORE – The U.S. Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that it has resolved  its pattern or practice sex discrimination lawsuit against LA Weight Loss  Centers, Inc., (renamed Pure Weight Loss, Inc., in early 2007), for $20 million  and other significant relief.

According to the EEOC’s suit (WDQ-02-CV-648), filed in  the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Pure Weight Loss had a  nationwide policy of not hiring qualified males into the positions of counselor/sales,  medical assistants, assistant managers, center managers, area supervisors,  trainers, and other field positions. Former  Area Trainer Kathy Koch was disciplined and fired in retaliation for complaining  about the company’s policy of not hiring men and for interviewing male  candidates, the EEOC also alleged.

Pure Weight Loss discontinued its business operations in  January 2008 and filed a voluntary petition under Chapter 7 of the United  States Bankruptcy Code on January 11, 2008, in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for  the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Case No. 08-10315-JKF). The bankruptcy trustee has agreed to the  terms of the consent decree, which was approved by the bankruptcy court.

Refusing to hire qualified applicants because of their  gender, maintaining sex-specific job classifications, and retaliating against  employees who protest unlawful discriminatory practices violate Title VII of  the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Pursuant  to the consent decree and as approved by the bankruptcy trustee, the EEOC will  have a claim in bankruptcy court of $20 million -- $16,842,656 in back pay and  $3,157,344 in punitive damages -- payable  to men whom the EEOC determined were subjected to hiring discrimination because  of their sex during the period January 1, 1997, through the entry of the  decree. The portion of the settlement, if any, that the EEOC will be able to obtain  through its pending bankruptcy court claim is presently unknown. Koch settled with Pure Weight Loss in November  2005.

Along with the monetary relief to the class members, the 10-year  consent decree provides for significant injunctive relief. The decree applies  to all Pure Weight Loss centers or to any successor resuming business  operations. The decree:

  • Prohibits Pure  Weight Loss from discriminating against job applicants or employees because of  sex and retaliating against any of its employees or applicants;
  • Requires Pure  Weight Loss to use an electronic applicant tracking system for each person  hired and for any person who submits an application, and to provide specific  information on applicants by sex and other categories defined by the EEOC; and
  • Mandates that Pure  Weight Loss create a discrimination complaint procedure, post its commitment to  equal opportunity and a diverse workforce, and report compliance to the EEOC.

Additionally, the consent decree requires hiring of  rejected male applicants and includes numerical benchmarks for hiring and/or  promoting men to the positions from which they had been previously excluded;  requires Pure Weight Loss to conduct quarterly reviews to assess attainment of its  hiring goals; and, at the EEOC’s option, requires Pure Weight Loss to employ an  outside expert to examine the hiring process to assist in achieving any unmet  hiring goals.

“We brought this lawsuit to advance the legal right to a  workplace free of sex discrimination and to remind employers that they must  make employment decisions based on the applicant’s ability to perform the  duties of the job,” said EEOC Philadelphia Regional Attorney Jacqueline McNair,  whose jurisdiction includes Maryland.

“EEOC will strongly pursue employers who choose to  flagrantly disregard federal law by engaging in systemic gender  discrimination,” said EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Tracy Hudson Spicer. Added EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Ronald L. Phillips,  “The EEOC’s systemic initiative was undertaken to combat company-wide  discriminatory employment practices like this one.”

The  EEOC’s Baltimore Field Office litigation team included EEOC attorneys Tracy  Hudson Spicer, Ronald L. Phillips, Corbett Anderson and Cecile Quinlan. Applying the Commission’s national law firm  model, the Baltimore team was also assisted in  this case by attorneys from EEOC's New York, Boston, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Dallas, and Chicago  offices.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment  discrimination. Further information  about the EEOC is available on its web site at