EEOC Targets Auto Supply Chain in Race and Disability Discrimination Claims

A pair of lawsuits brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against a company that operates a nationwide chain of auto supply stores alleges race and disability discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. One case involves the transfer of an employee from one store to another as part of an alleged effort to reduce the number of black employees at the first store. The other case alleges failure to provide reasonable accommodations for two employees with disabilities, and the termination of one of them after making a complaint.

The complainant in the race discrimination case worked at a retail location in southwest Chicago. The employer “involuntarily transferred” him to a store location on the far south side of the city, allegedly “as part of an effort to eliminate or limit the number of black employees” at the southwest Chicago store. EEOC v. AutoZone, Inc. (“AutoZone I“), No. 1:14-cv-05579, complaint at 3 (N.D. Ill., Jul. 22, 2014). The company allegedly believed that the southwest Chicago store’s customers “preferred to be served by non-black, Hispanic employees.” Id. The complainant objected to the transfer to the south Chicago store and ultimately refused to agree to it. At that point, the defendant terminated his employment.

The EEOC alleges that the defendant’s actions “deprive or tend to deprive [the complainant] and other black individuals of employment opportunities because of their race.” Id. at 3-4. The lawsuit asserts a cause of action for race discrimination, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(2). It seeks a permanent injunction against further employment practices that discriminate based on race, new policies and training programs geared towards alleviating past and preventing future race discrimination, and monetary damages paid to the complainant.

Two employees complained to the EEOC about the failure to provide reasonable accommodations for disabilities. EEOC v. AutoZone, Inc. (“AutoZone II“), No. 1:14-cv-03385, am. complaint (N.D. Ill., Aug. 5, 2014). One employee suffers from migraines and has a digestive disorder, and he sought modifications to his work schedule that would reduce the likelihood that either condition would flare up. The other employee has a herniated disc in his spine that causes severe pain after long periods of standing, and he requested that he be permitted to sit whenever possible during shifts. Neither employee’s requests were granted, and the defendant allegedly terminated one of them in retaliation for filing an EEOC complaint.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendant failed to make reasonable accommodations for the complainants, as required by the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12112(b)(5)(A), and that it violated its own “‘no fault’ attendance point policy” by failing to allow them a reasonable number of excused absences related to their disabilities. AutoZone II, am. complaint at 5; 42 U.S.C. § 12112(b)(5)(B). It further claims that the defendant unlawfully retaliated against one of the complainants by terminating him after he filed an EEOC complaint. 42 U.S.C. § 12203(a). The damage demand includes injunctive relief, policy changes, and monetary damages.

The Resnick Law Group’s employment discrimination attorneys represent job seekers and employees in New Jersey and New York under municipal, state, and federal law. To schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your case, please contact us today online, at 973-781-1204, or at (646) 867-7997.

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