Baker & Taylor Violated Section 707(a) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964)
Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) March 12, 2014 – Baker & Taylor, a large distributor of digital and print content, agreed to a decree to resolve a pending lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
“The initial complaint alleged that Baker & Taylor were in violation of Section 707(a) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by linking severance pay to a virtually unenforceable and misleading severance agreement that interfered with a worker’s right to file charges and speak to the EEOC,” explains Chicago employment attorney, Timothy Coffey, for The Coffey Law Office, P.C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace. Baker & Taylor are considered to be a leading distributor of digital and print content to retailers and libraries in the U.S.
The EEOC alleged that in order for workers to receive any severance pay, they were mandated to sign a document that barred their right to file charges with the EEOC and limited their ability to talk to them. The company was attempting to deny workers the right to file discrimination charges. The EEOC took exception to this point-of-view, as the ability to speak freely with their agency and file charges is one of the main cornerstones that allow workplaces to be free of unlawful discriminatory practices.
By filing a lawsuit under Section 707(a), the EEOC is able to act quickly to put a stop to any perceived practices or patterns of discrimination in a workplace. “Although this case did not go to court, the company did agree to revise their severance agreement and that those who had signed the agreement, before its revision, may file a discrimination lawsuit with the EEOC,” Coffey pointed out. Additionally, Baker & Taylor agreed not to raise the time limits on filing charges as a defense for a period of 180-days, thereby allowing workers to freely speak to the EEOC without being in violation of the conditions of their severance.
Despite what the law says with regard to worker’s rights as it relates to contacting the EEOC if they feel there is an issue in the workplace that violates their rights, many companies attempt to deny their employees the right to file a complaint with the agency. “Unfortunately, many workers are not as aware of their employment rights as they should be. When in doubt, always contact an employment lawyer to find out what your rights are. Do not believe what an employer tells you unless you have spoken to competent counsel and completely comprehend those rights,” suggests Coffey. “Ideally, it is also best not to sign anything that may infringe on your rights, until you have sought legal advice.”
THE COFFEY LAW OFFICE, P.C.
351 W. Hubbard Street, Suite 602
Chicago, IL 60654
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