Title VII Infringement: An Inside Look at the EEOC’s Retaliation Charge
Federal law was reportedly breached by Elevation Labs, LLC, formerly known as Northwest Cosmetics Labs, as they are charged with employee retaliation over allegations of racial discrimination. The charge, lodged by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), culminated in a lawsuit filed today.
Revealing the captivating career path of Rachel Robertson Johnson, who joined Elevation Labs in 2014 as a highly talented cosmetic chemist, the lawsuit sheds light on her remarkable journey that is truly deserving of recognition. She was among the few Black employees at the Idaho Falls location. Johnson raised concerns regarding racially insensitive remarks and unfair treatment from coworkers in 2016. Her complaints were met with advice to “be the bigger person”. Following further discriminatory treatment claims in February 2019, the company cited deteriorated relationships preventing her from promotion.
Escalation of events occurred in July 2019, when the CEO warned Johnson of parting ways if further allegations arose. This followed Johnson’s discussion about the organization’s diversity and inclusion issues at a company event with a guest speaker, coincidentally the CEO’s brother. Additionally, management reiterated her non-promotion status due to strained coworker relationships and her past complaints. By August 2019, the denial of promotion, explicit threat from the CEO, and an unjustified warning forced Johnson’s resignation in September 2019.
The lawsuit brought by the EEOC contends that such conduct infringes upon Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This legislation protects employees from employer retaliation when reporting perceived discriminatory treatment. The EEOC, having tried for a pre-litigation settlement, seeks various forms of restitution in the District Court for the District of Idaho.
Elizabeth Cannon, Seattle field director for the EEOC, commented on the frequency of retaliation charges. She emphasized the necessity for employers to abstain from punishing employees opposing discrimination. Echoing these sentiments, EEOC Trial Attorney Clive Pontusson reinforced the importance of employees voicing discrimination concerns without fear of reprisal, assuring that the EEOC will defend these rights vigorously.
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