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Kmart Agrees to Settle in Filipina's Bias Suit

Philippine News, Posted: Mar 29, 2010

HONOLULU Kmart Corporation will pay $120,000 and furnish other relief to settle an age harassment, constructive discharge and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced on March 24. The EEOC had charged that Kmart discriminated against a 70-year-old pharmacist at a Honolulu store.

EEOC Program Analyst Christine Park-Gonzalez said the victim is Filipina and was 70 at the time of discrimination at the Honolulu Kmart.

According to the EEOCs suit, over the course of four years, a pharmacy manager openly professed on several occasions that the pharmacist was too old, should just retire, and was greedy for continuing to work at age 70. Further, the EEOC said, the manager continued to humiliate her in writing by stating, The pharmacy is no longer your forte and You need to retire from pharmacy work now, in a communication book open to the entire department.

The manager also purposely scheduled her to work on Sundays knowing that she attended church those days to encourage her to quit, according to the EEOC. The agency further contended that the victim complained to a district manager, general manager and human resources manager regarding the age-based harassment, to no avail.

Further, the EEOC charged, Kmart threatened legal action against the pharmacist using a pretext on an unrelated matter to retaliate against her for her discrimination complaint. Finally, the EEOC said, she had to quit to escape the mistreatment.

In June 2009, the EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court, District of Hawaii (EEOC v. Kmart Corporation, et al., Case No. CV09-00300 SOM BMK), claiming that Kmart failed to take remedial action, which forced the pharmacist to resign. The EEOC argued that the harassment and Kmarts failure to adequately address it were in direct violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

Instead of addressing this pharmacists legitimate complaints of age discrimination, Kmart made a bad situation worse by threatening her for complaining, said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. Such retaliation only compounds an employers culpability.

In cooperation with the EEOC, Kmart entered into a three-year consent decree which also stipulated that Kmart post a notice on the matter; hire an EEO trainer; review and revise its existing anti-discrimination policy; provide annual ADEA training to all staff; and ensure that performance evaluations reflect discriminatory misconduct by management staff.

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