Francena Smith will return to her former job at Kraft Foods’ Maxwell House division in Jacksonville following an arbitrator’s decision.
Smith filed an EEOC gender discrimination claim alleging she was disciplined more harshly than several male workers who were also involved in incidents at the plant that caused contamination of the coffee. Smith lost her job, but the men did not.
After she sued for sex discrimination, an independent arbitrator ordered Smith be reinstated, but didn’t award any monetary damages. In October, the EEOC filed a lawsuit on Smith’s behalf, seeking punitive damages.
Note: Arbitration agreements are no protection from the EEOC. The Supreme Court has ruled the EEOC is not bound by contracts employees sign with their employers. Consequently, even the best-crafted alternative dispute resolution program couldn’t prevent an EEOC lawsuit from proceeding.