As a Seattle employment attorney, I know that, unfortunately, some employers seem to believe that they have rights over employees that they in fact do not. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a press release late last week about a motion in an employer retaliation lawsuit in Urbana, IL. Steven Whitlow, a former employee of chemical company Cognis Corporation, was asked to sign an agreement to never file a charge of discrimination against the company as a condition of continued employment. Mr. Whitlow refused to sign the agreement, and was fired. The EEOC claims that the agreement was a violation of Mr. Whitlow’s civil rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and filed a class action suit on behalf of Mr. Whitlow and all the Cognis employees who did sign the agreement. Cognis filed a motion for summary judgment in the retaliation case, claiming that there were no disputed facts and the action class was not entitled to damages. Chief U.S. District Judge Michael P. McKuskey disagrees, and denied the motion, meaning that the action should move forward.
The EEOC’s Chicago District Director, John Rowe, summed up the situation very eloquently, “All employees have the right to file charges with the EEOC. Employers cannot attempt to create two unequal classes of employees, with one group covered by civil rights laws and the other left without the protections those rights provide.” It is unfortunate that employers sometimes forget this, or even try to abuse the power that they feel they have over employees. Employers need to remember that they need their employees as much as their employees need them.
If you feel that your rights as an employee are being ignored or abused by your employer, speak with an experienced Seattle employment attorney to discuss your options. Employment law is very complicated, but, as Mr. Rowe indicated, employers do not have the right to strip you of your civil rights. Here at Premier Law Group, we have represented a number of clients whose civil rights have been infringed upon by their employers, and we have the experience you need to work with the system to protect your rights. For more information and a FREE CONSULTATION, contact me at Premier Law Group today at (206)285-1743.