SEATTLE (March 12, 2010) — Les Schwab Tire Centers has agreed to pay $2 million to settle a nearly four-year-old gender-based hiring discrimination lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The case originally was filed in Seattle federal district court in May 2006 after two Les Schwab employees, Megan Morris and Jennifer Strange, had filed a complaint with the EEOC, accusing the dealership of repeatedly denying them tire changing jobs and the opportunity for advancement.
In the lawsuit, the EEOC alleged that Les Schwab regularly failed to hire women for sales or service department jobs — the two areas, the agency said, that are prerequisites for management jobs. In more than 50 years of operation, the agency said, the company had promoted only one woman to an assistant manager's position.
Besides paying the money, Les Schwab agreed in the settlement to maintain anti-discrimination policies and procedures in the workplace and to provide anti-discrimination training for all its managers, assistant managers and employees. The company also will provide periodic compliance reports to the EEOC.
“The EEOC will continue to investigate employers and industries that have put women in certain types of jobs and men in others,” said Mike Baldonado, EEOC district director in San Francisco, in a press release. “We hope Les Schwab becomes a model employer of women in the male-dominated tire industry.”
Ms. Strange alleged in 2006 that she had been demoted to bookkeeper from her job in sales and management after Les Schwab took over the independently owned Schwab Tire Center where she had worked since 1996 and was denied the opportunity for nearly two years to move back into her sales job.
In its own statement, Les Schwab said the settlement reaffirms the company's commitment to equal employment opportunity.
“We are proud of our extremely long employee tenure, and the high number of applicants seeking a career with Les Schwab Tire Centers,” said Jodie Hueske, the company's vice president of human resources. “Resolution of this dispute allows Les Schwab to continue its strong focus on supporting our employees so that they can deliver excellent customer service.”
Bend, Ore-based Les Schwab operates more than 420 tire centers in California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.