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DukeEmployees.com - Duke Energy Employee Advocate

EEOC - Page 1 - 2001


The Unites States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: 1-800-669-4000

"The man who trades independence for security usually
deserves to end up with neither." - Benjamin Franklin


EEOC TO JOIN SEX DISCRIMINATION SUIT

EEOC - Press Release - March 12, 2001

ST. LOUIS - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today filed a motion to intervene in a nationwide sex discrimination class action lawsuit against Rent-A-Center, Inc. The Commission claims that Rent-A-Center unlawfully fired women or forced them to quit, refused to hire women, and discriminated against females in the terms and conditions of their employment. The Commission also alleges that Rent-A-Center failed to keep proper employment records as required by federal law.

The EEOC, if permitted to intervene in the class action, will seek an injunction to prevent Rent-A-Center from discriminating against female job applicants and employees because of their sex. Additionally, the Commission will seek backpay, compensatory and punitive damages, and reinstatement or front pay for women who lost their jobs or were not hired because of discrimination. The Commission will also seek an order directing Rent-A- Center to preserve all legally required employment records.

Vindicating the rights of women who are affected by a nationwide corporate policy of sex discrimination "serves a compelling public interest," said EEOC Chairwoman Ida L. Castro. "Our involvement in this case will ensure that appropriate relief is provided to those affected by the discrimination."

In 1998, Renters Choice acquired approximately 1,400 Rent-A-Center stores and the company assumed the name of Rent-A-Center. According to a class action complaint filed in federal court in East St. Louis, Ill., by 19 female employees on August 30, 2000, the company then systematically fired female employees.

The class complaint alleges that Rent-A-Center eliminated job classifications previously held by women, imposed a weight-lifting requirement unrelated to actual job requirements, harassed and unfairly disciplined female employees, assigned women cleaning and clerical duties, demoted and failed to promote females, and discharged or forced women to resign. The complaint also alleges that the company discouraged women from applying and rejected them when they did apply.

Rent-A-Center, headquartered in Plano, Texas, now has about 2,100 rent-to-own stores and about 10,000 employees throughout the United States, including several stores in the St. Louis area in Missouri and Illinois.

Lynn Bruner, Director of the EEOC's St. Louis District Office, expressed strong support for the suit. "The Commission brings suits like the one against Rent-A-Center to send a clear message to corporations that sex discrimination in employment will not be allowed," said Ms. Bruner.

The EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Equal Pay Act; prohibitions against discrimination affecting individuals with disabilities in the federal sector; sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991; and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments. Additional information about the Commission is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.



EEOC Letter Received

Duke Energy Employee Advocate - February 3, 2001

We have received a letter from the Director of Field Programs of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Our cash balance plan age discrimination charge against Duke Energy Corporation is still under investigation.

The letter explained that the legality of cash balance plans is an issue that was only raised last year. Due to the highly technical nature of pension plan changes, the need for actuarial investigation, and other complexities the determination will not process swiftly. We cannot say that we are surprised by this. We fully expected the matter to take years to be resolved when the charge was filed. We can wait. "The wheels of justice move slowly, but grind so finely."

The EEOC did offer an option for those in a hurry for action. If your age discrimination charge has been filed for at least 60 days, you can request a "Right to Sue Notice" from the EEOC. Do not elect this option unless you already have a firm willing to pursue the case and you fully intend to follow through. Because, if the lawsuit is not filed within 90 days of the issue of the notice, you will forever lose your right to sue.

If your have filed a charge due to the cash balance pension conversion, you should receive a letter from the EEOC. For most employees, the best course of action will be to just sit tight and let the EEOC do their work. If it is determined that Duke Energy Corporation did practice age discrimination against you, the EEOC has the option, but not the obligation, to file a suit against Duke Energy.

At this time, the charge does NOT have class action status. So, it is vitally important for each Duke Energy employee, who was employed before January 1, 1997 to file their own age discrimination charge with the EEOC.

Neither the EEOC nor this site has ever guaranteed that those who file a charge will have their pension losses restored. We can make this guarantee: If no one does anything to protest the pension conversion, everyone is guaranteed to get zero back!

The fact that this investigation is so complex proves that the pension conversion was not as legally sound as Duke Energy would have you believe. If the companies making pension conversion were completely and conservatively within the law, there would not be anything to investigate! Duke Energy, along with William M. Mercer, inc., took advantage of every gray area possible. Every loophole in the ERISA laws was exploited. It is extremely difficult to loosely interpret law to ones own advantage and come out squeaky clean. Duke Energy counted on the employees not questioning the conversion. We were supposed to say "Well, there goes my pension" and go back to work like good little idiots.

As of mid year 2000, approximately 800 cash balance plan age discrimination charges had been filed with the EEOC. Remember, silence is consent.

Click the link below to learn how you can file a cash balance plan age discrimination charge against Duke Energy.

EEOC: Aggressive Stance Opposing Age Bias in Cash Balance Plans?



County Settles EEOC Harassment Claim

The Charlotte Observer - By JEN PILLA - January 18, 2001

Temporary worker accepts $66,000 in case that helped change policy

Mecklenburg County will pay a former temporary worker $66,000 to drop her claim that she was sexually harassed by a supervisor in the county social services department.

Ruth Annette Harris' claim, filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1997, drew the interest of the U.S. Justice Department and resulted in significant changes in county policy last year to better protect temporary agency workers from sexual harassment.

Harris said her former supervisor harassed her, claiming in legal papers that the supervisor implied she would receive a permanent job if she gave in to his advances. Harris said she didn't learn about the county's policy banning sexual harassment until after she left the job in March 1997. The county denied she was harassed.

Her claim raised broader issues about protections for temporary workers, a growing segment of the nation's work force, and the Justice Department stepped in, filing suit in 1999 on her behalf. The Justice Department announced in May that it had settled the case after commissioners broadened the county's sexual harassment policy to specifically protect temp-agency workers, vendors, contractors, citizens and customers as well as permanent employees.

The county also agree to distribute the policy to all workers it hires, including temps.

Harris, however, refused a $45,000 settlement offer by the county last year, but agreed to take $66,000 offered earlier this month. County officials announced the settlement Wednesday.

Harris, who is in her late 30s, said she's proud of the policy changes her claim prompted, but she declined to comment specifically on her settlement.

"I can look myself in the mirror and know I did the right thing," said Harris, who says she is working toward a degree in political science at UNC Charlotte.

County Manager Harry Jones said the county isn't admitting any wrongdoing in the case.

"The cost of litigation has to be taken into consideration," he said.

Jones said about 1 years ago, the county started training all supervisors on the sexual harassment policy, how to identify sexual harassment and how to handle complaints.


EEOC - Page 4 - 2000