$125,000 Settlement in Sex Discrimination Law Suit Against Healthcare System, Training Ordered

Monday, January 9, 2017

Question:  Would discrimination training have prevented this case?  See our trainings at http://www.hrclassroom.com.

Dimensions Healthcare System, the largest not-for-profit provider of health care services in Maryland's Prince George's County, will pay $125,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to resolve a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to EEOC's lawsuit, Cassandra Crawford worked in Dimension's patient financial services department in Cheverly, Md., for over seven years, and had two years of team lead experience managing several team members and performing various human resources tasks. Crawford was on maternity leave from January to April 2014. In October 2014, Dimensions promoted a less-qualified male employee, who had less than two years of entry-level experience with the company and had previously been disciplined for attendance issues, to a manager position. EEOC charged that the associate vice president, Judy Selvage, told Crawford that Dimensions had considered promoting Crawford, but instead promoted the male employee because Crawford had been "on maternity leave for a while."

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on sex. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) amended Title VII to make it illegal to discriminate against a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Dimensions Healthcare Services, Civil Action No.8:15-cv-02342) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Greenbelt Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

On Sept. 2, 2016, the court denied Dimension's motion for summary judgment. The court found that Selvage's statement "could be direct evidence of sex bias under Title VII." The court also found that similar evidence developed during litigation could show that Selvage had a pattern of discriminating against women who took maternity leave. The court also found that EEOC could prove through its case through circumstantial evidence because the evidence could establish that Crawford had superior qualifications.

In addition to the $125,000 in monetary relief to Crawford, the two-year consent decree resolving the suit enjoins Dimensions from failing to promote based on sex. Dimensions will revise its job posting and internal transfer policy to implement a clear, non-subjective promotion policy and make clear that the health care provider does not discriminate based on sex, pregnancy or maternity leave. This policy will also require its human resources department to monitor all activities to ensure compliance with the anti-discrimination policy. Dimensions will provide annual anti-discrimination training to all managers, supervisors and human resources employees. The healthcare provider will also report to EEOC on its compliance with the consent decree, including how it handles any complaints of sex discrimination, and post a notice regarding the settlement.

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