Lincoln Cemetery Sued by EEOC for Retaliation
Company Terminated a 31-Year Veteran Employee After She Participated in a Discrimination Investigation, Federal Agency Charges
Lincoln Cemetery, Inc., an Atlanta corporation specializing in interment arrangements, violated federal law when it fired an employee because she participated in an EEOC investigation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it recently filed.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Peggy Knox had worked for Lincoln Cemetery as an administrative assistant since October 1983. In July 2015, Knox was interviewed by the EEOC during its investigation into an EEOC charge filed against Lincoln Cemetery by another employee. On Sept. 17, 2015, Lincoln Cemetery's owner and president attended a conference at the EEOC's Atlanta District Office related to the same EEOC investigation. Within hours of attending the conference, Knox was fired because of her cooperation with the EEOC.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division (Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-3165-ELR-AJB) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The federal agency seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Knox, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination in the future.
"This suit sends a message that employees should never be punished for speaking to government officials when they investigate discrimination claims," said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director of the EEOC's Atlanta District Office.
Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the Atlanta District Office, added, "Trying to take revenge against employees for speaking to government investigators and engaging in protected activity is a clear violation of the anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII and hinders an employee's ability to work in a discrimination-free environment as well as the government's ability to do its job."
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.