$700,000 Settlement in a Class Action Against a Manufacturing Company, Training Ordered

Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Question:  Would sex discrimination and sexual harassment training have prevented this case?  See our trainings at http://www.hrclassroom.com.

Presrite Corporation, a manufacturing company headquartered in Cleveland that makes gears and other industrial parts, will pay $700,000, offer jobs to no fewer than 40 women, and commit to other injunctive relief to settle a systemic class action lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 

The EEOC's lawsuit charged widespread discrimination against women who applied to work at one or more of Presrite's three plants in Cleveland and Ashtabula County.   According to the EEOC, Presrite - a federal contractor - consistently passed over female applicants in favor of less-qualified males for entry-level positions at all three plants.  The EEOC also cited evidence that women who were hired for such positions were harassed.  The agency pointed to testimony from a former Presrite employee who testified that her male-coworkers told her women should not be working there; called her a "dumb b----h"; drew degrading pictures of her; and suggested that she open the top of her work uniform to pose for a photograph.  

The EEOC also charged the company with failing to keep applications and other employee data in violation of federal law. The EEOC alleged that Presrite failed to produce more than a thousand employment applications for persons the company hired and failed to maintain accurate or complete data about applicants.  As a result, the EEOC said, it was unable to identify by name all of the female applicants who were unlawfully denied hire. 

Discriminating against applicants and employees based on sex violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Further, Title VII requires employers to make and preserve employment records relevant to determining whether the employer has engaged in unlawful practices, including hiring discrimination.  The EEOC filed suit in 2011 (EEOC v. Presrite Corporation, Case No. 1:11-cv-00260) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. 

On April 24, Judge Patricia A. Gaughan signed a publicly filed consent decree resolving the case.  Under the terms of the decree, Presrite will pay $700,000 in compensatory damages to establish a class fund for women who sought certain positions at Presrite and were denied hire.  Over the course of the next three years, Presrite will also offer jobs to no fewer than 40 women identified by the EEOC during the claims process.  The decree compels Presrite to give those females priority consideration and to offer them jobs before any current applicants.  

The decree also requires Presrite to implement a number of measures designed to prevent future discrimination such as periodic reports to EEOC disclosing the number of females and males who applied as compared to those who were hired; mandatory training; and compulsory retention of applicant and employment records, including creating and producing electronic data.  The decree includes an injunction prohibiting Presrite from discriminating against women in the recruiting and hiring process and compelling the company to make all good-faith, reasonably necessary efforts to find female candidates to fill vacancies in laborer or operative positions.

According to the company's website, Presrite maintains more than 500,000 square feet of manufacturing space and produces forged parts for a broad range of industries including the truck, automotive, aerospace, railroad and agricultural industries.  The company, headquartered in Cleveland, operates two plants in Cleveland and another plant in Jefferson, Ohio.

Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, women, and people with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
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