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DALLAS -- Allsup's Convenience Stores Inc. has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by paying a former employee $37,000 and furnishing other relief, the EEOC announced.
The lawsuit, Civil Action No. 6:10-CV-023-C, was filed in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, Las Cruces Division and was later transferred to the Northern District of Texas, San Angelo Division. It alleged that Allsup's fired manager-in-training Orvel Pape, an employee for nearly 10 years, from his job at a Santa Anna, Texas, store as retaliation for Pape's cooperation with an EEOC investigation of another employee's charge of disability discrimination filed under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). According to the lawsuit, Allsup's terminated Pape soon after learning that Pape's statements led to an EEOC finding of violation.
The EEOC's suit was brought pursuant to the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against any individual based on that individual's testimony, assistance or participation in any manner in an investigation into an alleged ADA violation, following an initial attempt to reach a voluntary settlement, the EEOC stated.
"Mr. Pape, a dedicated 10-year employee, was asked by Allsup's to speak with an EEOC Investigator about his co-worker's allegations of discrimination, and was dealt the ultimate punishment for simply following those instructions," said EEOC Trial Attorney Meaghan Shepard. "No employee should fear that cooperating with the EEOC will result in the end of their employment."
The agreed-upon settlement also requires Allsup's to train its managers on retaliation and the company's procedures for reporting complaints of discrimination, along with how to properly handle an employee's discrimination complaint. Allsup's must also post a notice of non-discrimination and distribute the notice to supervisors during the company's annual training.
"We will always be willing to aggressively pursue the claim of an employee who we believe is punished for providing honest testimony in a federal investigation," said Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino of the EEOC's Dallas District Office. "It is of overriding importance to our agency to thaw the chilling effect of such retaliation, and thereby ensure the freedom and motivation of co-workers to do the right thing. The company's agreement to re-train its large workforce will go a long way in establishing a more positive climate."