Communications Specialist Fired for Complaining About Race Discrimination, Federal Agency Charges
ATLANTA – The general board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, Inc. doing business as Global Ministries in Atlanta, violated federal law when it fired an employee for reporting race discrimination and retaliation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC’s complaint, Ivy Couch, a communications specialist / program area liaison, was hired by Global Ministries to write articles for the organization’s website to bolster engagement and increase awareness about the organization’s ministry efforts. After Couch complained several times to human resources about discriminatory and retaliatory treatment, Global Ministries fired her.
These alleged actions violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from firing, demoting, harassing or otherwise retaliating against employees because of race or because they complained to their employer about discrimination on the job. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 1:19-CV-2989-CAP-CMS) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement via its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking back pay, front pay, and compensatory and punitive damages for Couch, as well as injunctive relief to prevent future discrimination.
“Rather than encouraging Ms. Couch to come forward to voice her concerns regarding discrimination, Global Ministries penalized her for exercising her federally protected rights,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Antonette Sewell. “That was clearly unlawful. Employers must refrain from taking adverse action against employees because they have done them the favor of pointing out discriminatory treatment.”
Darrell Graham, director for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office, said, “Firing employees because they exercise their rights to complain about discrimination is a clear violation of federal law. We will continue to vigorously enforce the right of employees to speak out against discrimination without fear of losing their jobs.”
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.