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EEOC settles Wells Fargo, bus company racial bias cases


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced settlement of two racial discrimination and retaliation lawsuits, one against a Wells Fargo & Co. Bank, and another against a Florida bus company, on Wednesday.

In the Wells Fargo case, the San Francisco-based bank agreed to pay $295,000 to settle a lawsuit in which it was charged with disciplining and terminating a Hispanic Minneapolis employee in retaliation for complaining of differential treatment.

The EEOC said shortly after the employee complained to the Wells Fargo human resources department that she was being subjected to differential treatment, and that her supervisor told her not to speak Spanish during her non-duty time, the bank initiated discipline and ultimately terminated her “for practices other employees regularly engaged in without discipline.”

In addition to paying the settlement, the conciliation agreement requires Wells Fargo to conduct four hours of annual training for all managers and supervisors in the personal insurance business division where the employee worked, the EEOC said in its statement.

“Employers need to take proactive steps to end retaliation at their workplace,” said Julie Schmid, acting director of the Minneapolis Area Office, where the charge was filed, in the statement. “We are pleased that Wells Fargo chose to work with us to reach this conciliation agreement.”

Wells Fargo said in a statement, “Wells Fargo disagrees with the findings of the EEOC, yet we have agreed to resolve this matter through a conciliation agreement. At Wells Fargo, we value our team members' diversity. We are committed to building and sustaining a diverse and inclusive culture for all Wells Fargo team members and have zero tolerance for any form of discrimination.”

The EEOC also said Wednesday that Prestige Transportation Service L.L.C., a Miami company that provides transportation services to airline personnel to and from Miami International Airport, will pay $200,000 to settle a race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit, in connection with actions allegedly committed under different ownership.

The EEOC charged in its suit that Prestige’s predecessor company, Airbus Alliance Inc., repeatedly instructed its human resource manager to not hire African-American applicants because they were “trouble” and “would sue the company.”

Its owners also used a derogatory term for one employee and fired her after she filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC, the agency said. The EEOC said also Airbus terminated its human resources manager and another employee once they opposed the company’s discriminatory practices.

Payments will be made to three named claimants as well as a class of black applicants for employment under the settlement agreement. In addition, the company has agreed to several additional measures, including implementing numerical goals for hiring black applicants, the EEOC said.

“We are pleased that Prestige — under its new ownership — worked with the EEOC in reaching this important settlement,” said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney of the agency’s Miami District Office, in a statement. “The hiring and policy changes implemented by Prestige demonstrate the company’s commitment to hiring African-Americans, and we are confident that going forward, Prestige will have a diverse workforce.”

Jason Goldstein, an associate with Coral Gables, Florida-based law firm Richards & Associates, which represents Prestige, said in a statement the company “is pleased to move forward and continue to provide its customer base with excellent transportation service.”

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