ST. LOUIS (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced a federal judge has ordered Hobson Bearing International Inc. to pay Tera Lopez $37,500. Additionally, the company must drop its lawsuit against her.
This comes after the EEOC charged that Hobson had illegally retaliated against Lopez after she filed a discrimination case against it with the EEOC. Lopez alleged the company violated the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by compensating female employees less than male employees for performing equal work. After her complaint, Hobson allegedly sued her for “malicious prosecution.”
"Employees need to know that EEOC will swiftly investigate and enforce the robust federal laws that provide strong protections for those, like Ms. Lopez, who raise claims about discrimination and are retaliated against," EEOC St. Louis district director James R. Neely, Jr. said. "Hobson Bearing's action of bringing a lawsuit against Ms. Lopez was an egregious attempt to undermine her rights."
The judge cited cases that hold it to be an employee's absolute privilege to file a charge with the EEOC. Taking action against an employee for filing a complaint with the EEOC violates federal law.
“Employers need to realize EEOC will vigorously challenge such retaliation and intimidation," said Andrea G. Baran, EEOC's regional attorney in St. Louis. "We are very pleased that Hobson Bearing acknowledged, albeit belatedly, the prohibition against suing employees for malicious prosecution when they invoke their absolute right to file a discrimination charge.”