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3M settlement an example of EEOC’s newest enforcement strategy

| Aug 20, 2012 | Workplace Discrimination |

In 2011, more than 40 employers in corporate America paid a collective $60 million in settlements or unfavorable court judgments in workplace discrimination lawsuits brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Minnesota employer 3M was one of those companies, paying $3 million to settle age discrimination charges brought by the EEOC after it laid off hundreds of workers over the age of 45.

The 3M case garnered quite a bit of media coverage. As it turns out, publicity is actually the EEOC’s latest enforcement strategy in workplaces in Minnesota and across the country.

According to a recent statement by the EEOC’s general counsel, class action lawsuits are a way that an agency with limited resources can maximize its impact. For example, instead of filing a lawsuit on behalf of one worker at a time, EEOC investigators look for patterns of discrimination against multiple — perhaps hundreds — of workers at a single company. Potential areas of inquiry might involve the employer’s policies regarding hiring, pay, promotion or termination.

The EEOC hopes that the press coverage typically accompanying such large-scale litigation will send a message to corporate America about complying with anti-discrimination laws.

Notably, the EEOC tried to make class action lawsuits against corporate employers a priority back in 2006. However, budget cuts during the Bush administration interfered, resulting in staffing cuts by almost 25%. When funding was restored under the Obama administration, the agency resumed its efforts, with dramatic results: the number of active investigations increased from 50 in 2006 to nearly 600 last year.

Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution, “Government turns heat on employers over job bias,” Sam Hananel, Aug. 16, 2012

  • Our firm handles situations similar to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Minneapolis Hostile Work Environment page.

How Can We Help?

OFFICE LOCATION

Neaton & Puklich, P.L.L.P.

7975 Stone Creek Drive
Suite 120
Chanhassen, MN 55317-4622

Phone: 952-314-5779
Toll Free: 877-813-4764
Fax: 952-258-9988

Map and Directions