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Love's settles discrimination lawsuit


Published :
Tue, 31 Jul 2007 21:36
By : Agencies
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores has settled a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of a black cashier who claimed she was discriminated against because of her race and fired because she supported a former manager who sued the company.

In a consent decree signed Monday by U.S. District Judge David L. Russell, Oklahoma City-based Love's agreed to pay $39,000 to the cashier and to provide additional training to its managers on the issue of racial harassment and retaliation.

The cashier, Daphne Williams, worked at Love's store in Broken Bow for nine years and said she had an excellent work record until a new general manager was assigned to supervise her store in October 2003.

The new manager, who was white, treated Williams more harshly than white employees and ultimately fired her in April 2005 after she was listed as a witness in a separate sex discrimination lawsuit filed against the company by another employee, Williams alleged in her lawsuit.

In court filings, Love's claimed it acted in good faith and that all actions taken against Williams were for legitimate, nondiscriminatory, non-retaliatory reasons.

On Tuesday, a Love's spokeswoman said the company settled the case strictly for 'business reasons.'

'When this suit was initially filed, we concluded that there was no basis for the lawsuit,' said Jenny Love Meyer, a Love's spokeswoman. 'At the conclusion of this as we settle, we find no evidence of discrimination.'

Williams, who filed the lawsuit in September 2006, was represented by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

'The terms of this settlement should go a long way towards preventing race discrimination and retaliation at Love's in the future,' said James Neely, director of the EEOC's district office in St. Louis, which has jurisdiction over Oklahoma. 'Anti-discrimination training and making employees aware of their right to be free from discrimination is key to a workplace where all employees are treated equally.'

As part of the settlement, Love's agreed to several measures designed to prevent any race discrimination or prohibited retaliation against employees, including the posting of a notice for employees advising them of their rights under federal law. The company also agreed to provide written notice every six months to the EEOC of any complaints of race discrimination or retaliation made by any employee in Oklahoma.

'Retaliation chills an employee's desire to cooperate in EEOC investigations or oppose discriminatory conduct,' said EEOC senior trial attorney Michelle Robertson. 'Unfortunately, as this case shows, both race discrimination and retaliation are still persistent problems in the 21st century workplace.'

Love's has more than 190 stores in more than 30 states, including dozens in Oklahoma.

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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