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.
Another recent suit involves potential employees nationwide, but the company is based in Louisville, Kentucky. Earlier this month the EEOC filed suit against the Texas Roadhouse restaurant chain. According to the charges, interviewees over 40 applying for jobs visible within the restaurant, such as waiting tables, hosting or bartending, were denied a position because of their age. During the interviews, individuals were told “you seem older to be applying for this job” and “we are looking for people on the younger side…but you have a lot of experience.” Additional evidence of age discrimination by the company includes employment handbooks and training manuals in which every photo is of someone under 40, and alleged instruction from Texas Roadhouse to their managers to look for younger people when hiring.
The case was filed by the EEOC in Boston, but the age discrimination in hiring by Texas Roadhouse has allegedly been seen across the nation since 2007. Monetary damages are being sought for those individuals who were denied employment based on their age, and the EEOC is requesting anti-discrimination training for the restaurant chain’s current employees as well as new policies to keep this situation from happening again. P. David Lopez, counsel for the EEOC states, “”It is important in this difficult economic climate that we redouble our nation’s commitment to the principle of nondiscrimination in the workplace.”
Kentucky employment attorneys Miller & Falkner have been helping individuals who have been discriminated against in the workplace for over eight years.
W.Ky. Company Rejected Black Miners, Suit Says; The Courier-Journal; Brett Barrouquere; September 28, 2011
River View Coal Sued by EEOC for Race Discrimination; U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; September 26, 2011
Texas Roadhouse Refused to Hire Older Workers Nationwide, EEOC Alleges in Lawsuit; U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; October 3, 2011