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New Orleans Towing Company Sued by EEOC For Breaching Settlement Agreement

Company Refused to Pay Money Pursuant to Settlement Agreement It Signed at EEOC Mediation of Pregnancy Discrimination Charge, Federal Agency Charges

TRU Towing Auto, a New Orleans-based towing business, breached a settlement it entered into during a pregnancy discrimination mediation with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged in a lawsuit it filed.

According to the EEOC's suit (Civil Action No. 2:18-cv-3874 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana), TRU Towing breached its mediation settlement agreement with the EEOC and Devora Hampton, under which it had agreed to pay Hampton $5,500 to resolve her pregnancy discrimination claim. The EEOC's complaint alleges that on Jan. 31, TRU Towing's owner, Brian Ballard, and Hampton entered into an agreement to settle Hampton's charge during mediation. The company is now refusing to pay the money owned to Hampton, the EEOC says, and the agency filed suit seeking specific performance of the contractual agreement and payment of the settlement money to Hampton. The EEOC seeks specific performance of the terms of the mediation settlement agreement, which includes payment of $5,500 to Hampton.

"The EEOC will aggressively pursue enforcement of settlement agreements," said Keith T. Hill, field director of the agency's New Orleans Field Office, which is under its Houston District Office. "It is crucial to ensure that discrimination victims remain confident that they will receive the relief we have negotiated for them."

Rudy Sustaita, the EEOC's regional attorney in Houston, said, "The EEOC's mediation program fulfills an important role in its enforcement program. Parties who participate in mediation with us should have confidence that any agreement reached during that process cannot be invalidated just because the company no longer wants to honor its obligation. The EEOC will file suit to obtain compliance with its settlement agreements."

Michelle T. Butler, the EEOC senior trial attorney in charge of the case, added, "A settlement reached in mediation with the EEOC is a presumptively valid contract which cannot be repudiated based on a company's whim."

According to the company's website, TRU Towing operates a fleet of 20 trucks and has been in business for over 30 years.

Anyone who believes he or she has been subjected to discriminatory employment practices is encouraged to contact the EEOC's Houston District Office, which is in downtown Houston at 1919 Smith St., 7th Floor, Houston, TX 77002 or the agency's New Orleans Field Office, which is in the downtown business district at 500 Poydras St., Ste 809, New Orleans, LA 70130.

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.