The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on August 31, 2006 against Albion River Inn, Inc., on behalf of an Arab restaurant manager who was fired for refusing to apologize to a customer he asked to leave ...
read more >
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on August 31, 2006 against Albion River Inn, Inc., on behalf of an Arab restaurant manager who was fired for refusing to apologize to a customer he asked to leave the restaurant. Because the customer allegedly used racial epithets, slurs, and violent language toward the manager and a Tunisian employee, the EEOC sued for race- or national-origin-based retaliation and discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. sections 2000(e) et seq. The EEOC sought monetary and injunctive relief for the employee, including back pay, benefits, compensation for emotional harm, punitive damages, and revision of antidiscrimination policies. The EEOC also sought its costs.
On February 9, 2007, the employee intervened in the case with the approval of the Court seeking monetary relief. His complaint included the Title VII charges but added claims under state law for discrimination and retaliation in violation of California's Fair Employment and Housing Act, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and wrongful termination.
During discovery the parties had a dispute about whether mediator privilege (the right to keep discussions with a mediator confidential) extended to a friend of the owners of Albion River Inn, who was a certified financial planner and whose help the owners requested in resolving financial and management disputes. The Court (Judge Susan Illston) held that no privilege applied, because the "mediator" was not part of the court's official program and was mediating, if at all, between the defendants rather than between adverse parties to a lawsuit. 2007 WL 2667430 (N.D. Cal. 2007). The Court denied Defendant's later request to reconsider the issue. 2007 WL 2560718 (N.D. Cal. 2007).
The parties participated in official mediation on May 8, 2007, but did not reach a settlement. The parties eventually did decide to settle, reaching agreement on February 4, 2008, the first day of trial, before the trial began. (The Court later ordered the parties to pay the costs of empaneling a jury for the first day of trial.) The Court entered their settlement agreement as a consent decree on February 27, 2008. The decree contained both monetary and injunctive relief. The employee was to be paid $165,000, inclusive of $75,000 for attorneys' fees and $15,000 for costs. Under the injunctive terms of the decree Albion River Inn was required to revise its anti-discrimination policies and complaint procedure, to post notice of settlement and the complaint procedure, to give employees anti-discrimination training, to report completion of training to the EEOC, and to communicate discipline policies as well as the duty to actively monitor the workplace for discrimination to managers and supervisors. The decree was to remain in effect for three years. No further Court involvement appears on the docket, and the case is now closed.Kenneth Gray - 07/14/2013