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California firm pays discrimination fine, questions linger

Although some lawsuits appear to be one dimensional on their face, it is often the case that more than one factor is in play at any given time. For example, a situation that results in a workplace discrimination lawsuit may also be accompanied by a wrongful termination lawsuit or a harassment claim. An ongoing employment discrimination lawsuit against a prominent California logging company provides an excellent example of how multifaceted this kind of case can be.

Late last month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced that it had fined a local company $95,000 stemming from allegations of discrimination and wrongful termination based on an employee's race and religion.

In response, the company agreed to pay the fine and released a statement to that effect. However, they issued another statement saying that the employee in question had actually been fired for allegations of sexual harassment, as opposed to his national origin or religious practices.

The worker involved in this case is of Egyptian origin and claimed that the company had allowed other employees to harass him in the days following the September 11th attacks. He claimed that when he complained about the other employees' conduct, the company subjected him to stricter discipline and allowed false sexual harassment complaints to be filed against him.

The EEOC agreed with the employee's interpretation of events and the company agreed to pay the employee $95,000 to avoid future litigation on the issue of discrimination. However, the company also stated that it would continue to investigate the allegations of sexual harassment claims against the employee. As the settlement does not explicitly bar this, it is possible that the case will find its way into court again. The hope is that the employee will get the justice he deserves for being treated unfairly at his place of work.

Source: Anderson Valley Post, "SPI, EEOC reach settlement on discrimination lawsuit; SPI to pay $95,000 fine," Oct. 23, 2012

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