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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced on Wednesday a $4.25 million settlement of a sex discrimination case against a mining company that at one point led to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
The agency said it has resolved two lawsuits against a group of affiliated coal mining companies that it had accused of hiring practices that effectively excluded women from working in the underground mines and in other coal production positions.
The EEOC had first filed suit against Marion, Illinois-based Mach Mining L.L.C. in September 2011 charging violation of Title VII of the Civil rights Act of 1964.
The case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which held in a unanimous April, 2015 ruling in Mach Mining L.L.C. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that while the agency’s conciliation efforts are subject to judicial review, it also has “extensive discretion” to determine the kind and amount of communication it has with an employer.
In December 2016, the EEOC then filed a second lawsuit also charging gender discrimination that named certain Mach affiliates, which, along with Mach are part of St. Louis-based Foresight Energy L.P. The two cases were then consolidated.
The consent decree filed in U.S. District Court in Benton, Illinois, calls for the mining companies to jointly pay $4.25 million to a group of women applicants who were denied jobs because of sex discrimination.
The companies also agreed to hiring goals that are expected to result in at least 34 women being hired into coal production jobs in Illinois mines, said the EEOC.
EEOC Chicago District Director Julie Bowman said in the statement she was pleased with the cooperation between EEOC and the Foresight companies in resolving the suits.
"Though it has been some years since EEOC first filed suit, these cases were resolved fairly early in the litigation process," said Ms. Bowman. "No depositions have yet been taken in the case, sparing both EEOC and the companies the expenditure of significant resources. We were also pleased that Foresight has volunteered to engage the services of a consultant to help ensure that the integration of women miners into the workforce goes smoothly and is successful."
Foresight Energy said in a statement that it “remains an equal opportunity employer and will continue to ensure that its policies, practices, training and recruiting efforts promote diversity and equality.”
As it has been the case since 2010, retaliation charges continued to account for the largest number of charges filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to fiscal year 2016 enforcement and litigation statistics released by the agency Wednesday.