$140,000 Settlement in Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit Against Olam Americas, Inc., Training Ordered

Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Question: Would discrimination training have prevented this case? See our trainings at http://www.hrclassroom.com.

Olam Americas, Inc., along with its two subsidiaries, has settled a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for $140,000 and other relief. The EEOC had charged that a jobseeker was denied an executive assistant position at Olam’s Fresno, Calif., facility due to her pregnancy. Olam Americas, Inc. is a leading supplier and processor of agricultural products and food ingredients.

According to the federal agency, a female applicant was initially offered the executive assistant position at Olam in December 2010. However, within a very short period of time after disclosing that she was pregnant, Olam rescinded its offer of employment to her and promptly selected an alternate, non-pregnant candidate, the EEOC said.

Pregnancy discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The EEOC filed suit against Olam in September 2011 in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California (EEOC v. Olam America, Inc., Olam West Coast d/b/a Olam Spices and Vegetables, and Olam Tomato Processors, Inc., Case No. 11-cv-01548-LJO -DLB) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Olam and the EEOC ultimately entered into a three-year consent decree, effectively settling the lawsuit. Aside from the monetary relief for the rejected applicant, Olam agreed to designate an equal employment opportunity (EEO) official to develop procedures for handling sex discrimination complaints; ensure adequate handling of discrimination complaints; hold management and human resources staff accountable for failure to comply with such policies; and provide annual EEO training to all employees at six manufacturing plants in central and northern California, along with more specialized training for managers and human resources staff. The EEOC will monitor compliance with the decree.


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