CWS 3.0: September 25, 2013

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Buyer Faces EEOC Retaliation Suit

A Buffalo, Minn., metal services company is accused by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) of violating federal law by demoting and then firing a production manager for refusing to discriminate against an African-American contingent worker because of his race. 

The EEOC says a manager at Izza Bending Tube & Wire, Myrna Peltonen, recommended to her manager, Scott Landgraf, that the firm offer permanent employment to Randall Smith, a temporary employee who had completed 500 hours of service.  Instead, the EEOC alleges Landgraf instructed Peltonen to get rid of Smith, using derogatory racist language. She was demoted to an office position and her salary was cut when she refused. After she filed a discrimination charge with EEOC, she was laid off and then terminated.

Retaliation for opposing employment discrimination or for filing a charge with the EEOC violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. "Federal law protects individuals who oppose on-the-job practices they reasonably believe are unlawful as well as those who file charges with EEOC,” says John Rowe, director of the EEOC's Chicago District, which includes Minnesota. “Challenging retaliatory discharges helps to make sure the system which the law provides for dealing with discrimination not only survives but actually works."

The EEOC is seeking injunctive relief that will require Izza to adopt an effective anti-retaliation policy that complies with federal law and will seek back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for Peltonen.

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