The EEOC has filed suit against Hyundai Ideal Electric in Mansfield for allegedly firing a woman in retaliation for complaining about a pay disparity.
Tabitha Wagner, a drafter, complained that she earned less than a similarly situated male drafter with less seniority. In the suit, Wagner claims she complained to HR Manager Jon Shearer on Nov. 11, 2008. Shearer terminated her the next day.
After Hyundai rebuffed EEOC settlement offers, the commission sued on Wagner’s behalf. The lawsuit seeks monetary relief, an order requiring the company to implement new policies and practices to prevent discrimination, training on anti-discrimination laws and posting of notices at Hyundai work sites.
Note: Gender-based pay discrimination violates the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Additionally, the National Labor Relations Act protects workers’ rights to discuss workplace conditions such as pay, even if the workplace is not unionized.
The HR manager in this case may have had a legitimate reason to terminate Wagner. However, the close timing between her pay complaint and her firing might make that a tough sell to a jury if the lawsuit’s version of the facts is correct.
Every time you fire an employee, build your case by documenting your rationale. And always get the employee’s side of the argument and keep it on file.