The New York district office of the EEOC brought this suit against Books for Less, LLC and Books for Less, Inc., which function together as an integrated enterprise selling books, in August 2006, in the U.S District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The complaint alleged that Books for ...
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The New York district office of the EEOC brought this suit against Books for Less, LLC and Books for Less, Inc., which function together as an integrated enterprise selling books, in August 2006, in the U.S District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The complaint alleged that Books for Less management, including the owner, subjected black and female employees to continual and extreme harassment based on race and sex, as well as harassing an employee for her association with black people. Books for Less was also accused of retaliating against employees who, regardless of race or sex, complained about the harassment in the workplace. The retaliation took the form of threats, harassment, lawsuits, and termination of employees. After a contentious discovery process and a series of settlement conferences held by U.S. Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes, the parties settled by entry of a consent decree in March 2008.
The decree, which is in effect for four years, includes non-discrimination and non-retaliation clauses, requires complainants to be provided with neutral reference letters, and prevents Books for Less from saying anything to potential employers other than the dates of complainants' employment. The decree requires Books for Less to implement an anti-discrimination policy, which includes complaint procedures, to post and distribute material regarding anti-discrimination and regarding this lawsuit, and to provide anti-discrimination training to all employees, with special one-on-one training for the manager. Books for Less has also agreed to donate 1000 books or $10,000 dollars worth of books to the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. Books for Less must also file regular reports to the EEOC regarding any complaints of harassment or discrimination and reports indicating compliance with various aspects of the decree, and must allow the EEOC to monitor its records at the EEOC's discretion. Books for Less has agreed to pay a total of $180,000 to settle the claims of individual complainants. The EEOC is empowered to seek court enforcement of the decree if it is violated, including in the case of payments not being made on time. Additionally, Books for Less has agreed that it may not use bankruptcy or any form of legal debt relief to escape its obligations under this decree.Shankar Viswanathan - 05/30/2008