Workplace discrimination comes in several different forms. Sexual discrimination occurs when employees or potential employees are treated differently because of their gender. Negative employment decisions based solely on someone's faith constitutes religious discrimination. In the last week, cases have been filed against companies in Kentucky alleging racial discrimination and age discrimination.
On September 26th, 2011 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit against River View Coal LLC alleging racial discrimination in the hiring of new employees between 2008 and 2010. Although it is unknown exactly how many people were involved, 13 people have filed complaints with the EEOC. In 2008, River View began interviewing applicants for a new mine that subsequently opened in 2009 in Waverly, Kentucky. The applicants who filed complaints were qualified and said no specific reason was given for why they were not hired or not even interviewed for the positions.
According to a press release from the EEOC, "The agency is seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages against River View Coal, as well as other relief, including a permanent injunction to prevent the company from engaging in future hiring discrimination." While back pay is fairly self-explanatory, compensatory and punitive damages require a little more explanation. Compensatory damages, often called "actual damages," are damages that are less tangible than back pay. They may include pain and suffering, emotional or mental distress, or certain medical bills. Punitive damages are meant to punish the offenders to discourage them and others from repeating the offense. This type of damage can be awarded only if it can be proven that the company knew what it was doing was illegal but did it anyway. In employment cases filed under the federal anti-discrimination law, known as Title VII, both compensatory and punitive damages are capped based on the number of people employed by the company.