Brooks County, Texas will pay $20,000 and furnish other relief to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (EEOC), the agency announced Thursday. The county government was charged with unlawfully retaliated against an employee for filing an age discrimination complaint.
According to the suit, Brooks County repeatedly refused to give a salary increase to the employee and failed to consider her for another position because she had previously filed a complaint of age discrimination, which resulted in a civil suit against Brooks County.
Retaliating against individuals who oppose what they believe to be discriminatory conduct on the basis of age (40 years of age or older) violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The two-year consent decree settling the suit, entered by Judge Janis Graham Jack, enjoins Brooks County from engaging in any further conduct prohibited by the ADEA, and requires the county to pay $20,000 to the retaliation victim. Further, Brooks County must implement an effective policy against age discrimination and retaliation and post a notice that it will comply with all the provisions of the ADEA. The county must also provide training on age discrimination, including retaliation, to all its elected officials with authority to hire, promote, terminate and demote employees.
“We are pleased that Brooks County decided to fully comply with the ADEA and compensate the former employee upon whose behalf this action was brought,” said EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Judith G. Taylor of the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office. “Through the negotiated settlement process, we were able to forge a solution that addressed the issues raised and to further protect the rights of older workers.”
EEOC Trial Attorney Patrick Connor said, “The EEOC is here to protect employees who assert their rights in the workplace, even if the employer is a governmental one acting through elected officials. This decree should benefit all employees in Brooks County and serve as a warning to all small, public employers to stay informed on how to comply with federal laws.”
In July 2009, the EEOC held a public hearing on age discrimination and barriers to the employment of older workers. Additional information about the hearing can be found on the EEOC’s website at http://eeoc.gov/eeoc/meetings/7-15-09/index.cfm.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.