PHILADELPHIA — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Quinton Township Board of Education in Hammonton, N.J., reached a voluntary conciliation agreement to resolve a retaliation charge filed by a former employee, the federal agency announced today.
Following an investigation, the EEOC found reasonable cause to believe that Quinton Township engaged in retaliation when its separation agreement purported to waive a former employee’s right to file a charge with the EEOC and when it threatened to seek costs from the former employee for filing a charge of disability discrimination with the EEOC. Quinton Township denied that it engaged in retaliation but agreed to a voluntary resolution of the charge.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employment discrimination based on disability. It also prohibits employers from engaging in retaliation because an employee opposed discrimination or filed a charge with the EEOC. It is also unlawful to coerce, intimidate, threaten or otherwise interfere with an individual’s exercise of ADA rights, or with an individual who is assisting another to exercise ADA rights.
In the conciliation agreement, Quinton Township agreed not to engage in employment discrimination or retaliation in the future. The township will revise its standard severance agreement to make clear that the EEOC considers an employee or former employee’s right to file a charge of discrimination with EEOC — for alleged discrimination based on race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability or retaliation — to be non-waivable. Quinton Township will provide annual equal employment opportunity training with an emphasis on retaliation and non-waivable rights under the laws the EEOC enforces. The school district will also post a notice about the voluntary settlement. The EEOC will monitor compliance with the voluntary settlement for five years.
“Interfering with an individual’s right to file a charge of discrimination is contrary to public policy,” said Jamie R. Williamson, director of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District. “We commend Quinton Township for addressing and correcting this issue voluntarily and for taking strong, affirmative measures, including annual training, to ensure compliance with the anti-discrimination laws.”
Guidance for individuals and employers regarding the EEOC’s position on non-waivable employee rights under EEOC-enforced statutes is available at https://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/waiver.html.
Preserving access to the legal system, including addressing overbroad separation agreements, is one of the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan priorities.
The EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office is one of four offices in the Philadelphia District, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C., and parts of Virginia.
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.
Philadelphia District Office