Workers in Texas and throughout the country have the right to file discrimination and sexual harassment complaints against their employers. Even if the complaint is eventually dismissed by whomever is asked to investigate it, the worker who filed the complaint cannot be disciplined for doing so. In fact, retaliating against employees for complaining about discrimination in the workplace violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
But, unfortunately, sometimes employers do not abide by the law and they violate the rights of their employees. In a recent case in Houston, a woman who filed a sex discrimination case against her former employer was retaliated against by that employer and her current employer, resulting in the loss of her job.
The woman worked for Houston-based Vitol, Inc. until her employment was terminated in 2008. Months after she was fired, she filed a sex discrimination complaint against the company with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After learning the EEOC had chosen not to investigate the complaint further, Vitol, Inc. forwarded a copy of the complaint to the woman’s current employer, Johnson Controls.
Johnson Controls then fired her, saying that this was a part of scheduled downsizing.
The EEOC, however, disagreed and accused both companies of retaliating against the worker–in a way, ganging up on the woman for filing the complaint. The companies have now settled with the EEOC, agreeing to pay $62,500 in damages, as well as provide neutral job references for her and keep information about the original sex discrimination complaint and this settlement confidential.
Additionally, both companies have agreed to provide training on workplace discrimination and retaliation. Both of these companies are multinational organizations, and one might think they should already be taking such measures.
It is very important that the right of workers to file discrimination complaints without fear of retaliation is maintained. No one should ever lose their job for standing up for their rights in the workplace.
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Vitol and Johnson Controls to Pay $62,500 to Settle EEOC Lawsuit for Retaliation,” Sept. 4, 2012
- Our law firm handles employment disputes. To learn more about our practice, visit our Houston Discrimination and Harassment page.