Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Long Arm of the EEOC

Mariana Most of us are familiar with the controversies about working conditions at the factories that make most of our clothes in East Asia and the Pacific Rim. It's not always easy to remember, though, that at least some of those factories are in U.S. jurisdictions. That's why the recent $1.7 million settlement and consent decree between the EEOC and the largest garment manufacturers in Saipan is especially noteworthy. From the EEOC's press release:

L&T Group of Companies, Ltd., the largest employer and conglomerate of garment manufacturers in Saipan, has agreed to pay $1.7 million and to provide far reaching and significant injunctive relief to settle a series of lawsuits filed by the [EEOC] that charged the company with retaliation and discrimination based on national origin, pregnancy and age, all in violation of federal law.

The three-year, court-enforced consent decree will resolve four EEOC discrimination lawsuits against the employers and their affiliates: Tan Holdings Corporation; Tan Holdings Overseas, Inc.; Concorde Garment Manufacturing Corp.; Micro Pacific, Inc.; Seasonal Inc.; and L&T International Corp. The EEOC filed the cases in U.S. District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands.  The consent decrees, signed by U.S. Federal Court Judge Alex R Munson on July 28, 2009, resolve the lawsuits filed by the EEOC in the Federal District Court.

“This major settlement shows that the EEOC will vigorously protect the rights of all workers, within every reach of our jurisdiction, to be free of discrimination,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “The resolutions of these egregious cases bring a measure of justice to the many workers who were retaliated against and otherwise victimized by discriminatory employment practices because of their national origin, age, or pregnancy.” 

. . .

Besides the $1.7 million obtained by the EEOC, the three-year consent decree also requires the companies to institute broad injunctive relief and remedies such as: 

  • Hiring of an equal opportunity consultant to train all managers and employees;
  • Extensive training for all of its non managerial, managerial, and human resources employees;
  • Enjoining the companies from discriminating or retaliating against its employees;
  • Monitoring by the EEOC and reporting to the EEOC on their progress in fulfilling the terms of the consent decree;
  • Reporting all complaints of national origin, age and pregnancy discrimination to the EEOC during the term of the decree;
  • Establishing effective policies and procedures, including a complaint procedure for handling discrimination complaints; and
  • Posting of a notice of the case at their various facilities.

The allegations against the four affiliates generally revolved around favorable treatment for Chinese and Nepalese employees and poor treatment for Filipino and Bangladeshi employees. Additionally, at least one of the affiliates routinely terminated or refused to renew the contracts of women of any national origin once they became pregnant.

The press release noted four additional recent settlements with companies in the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam. And, if you're wondering, the regional office that handles U.S. territories in the Pacific Rim is in Los Angeles.



Employment Discrimination | Permalink

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