- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit against 28 Event Space for retaliation in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Doug Lytle, owner of the Kansas City, Missouri, wedding venue is charged with unlawfully firing an African-American employee for supporting a co-worker's race discrimination claims.
- Theopilis Bryant, the employee, was a witness in an earlier race discrimination case against Profile Cabinet and Design, where Lytle had been a manager. To keep Bryant from testifying, Lytle allegedly offered Bryant money and a used limousine. When Bryant refused to be coerced into not testifying, Lytle threatened his job and later removed him from the work schedule at 28 Event Space, the suit alleged.
- The EEOC filed suit against the wedding venue (EEOC v. 28 Event Space LLC., No. 4:18-cv-889 (W.D. Mo.)) seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for Bryant, plus injunctive relief designed to prevent discriminatory conduct in the future.
Managers who aren't trained on employment laws post a risk for employers. Supervisors need to know who is protected and what is required. Title VII, for example, prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. In a recent recent interview with HR Dive, Robin Shea, partner at Constangy Brooks, Smith & Prophete, said that Title VII is one of the easiest employment laws to comply with.
Regarding harassment, for example, Shea recommends that employers hold training once a year, with separate sessions for managers and employees. She said employees need to be able to recognize harassment and know how to report it, without fear of retaliation. The same advice applies to other forms of misconduct, including retaliation.
Along with anti-discrimination training, employment law experts recommend zero-tolerance policies that are consistently enforced. Employers can lower their risk of liability by taking several preventive measures. The cost of not doing so can be steep; in April, a Michigan court ordered Ford to pay $16.8 million to settle a discrimination and retaliation suit filed by the EEOC.