Big box stores and the federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission ought to go into business together. They spend enough time together. This week, the EEOC announced a settlement with the world’s largest ‘home improvement” chain store, Home Depot, which involves a payment of $150,000 and a training program at the company to prevent further employment discrimination. Under the terms of the settlement, Home Depot will reportedly will have to voluntarily report to the EEOC how it handles any sex discrimination complaints for the period of one year — a sort of ‘ankle bracelet’ monitoring of the company. The settlement this week stems from a case filed about 8 months ago in the U.S. District Court in the state of Washington. A woman worker at Home Depot charged that she was fired for being a woman. The worker, who was represented by the EEOC, asserted that she had worked at Home Depot for eight years, with a good performance record as a kitchen designer at the company’s Shoreline, Washington store. The employee says her problems began shortly after a new supervisor was assigned to her department. She says the supervisor and other male coworkers would steer customers away from her, and “denigrate her in front of customers.” The new supervisor gave her an unfavorable work performance evaluation, and she was terminated a week after that report. She was replaced by a male worker.
For other EEOC actions against Home Depot and Wal-Mart, search Newsflash by “EEOC.” In the 1990s, Home Depot paid one of the largest gender discrimination settlements in the history of retailing, more than $100 million. Female workers in a class action suit said the company had a glass ceiling for women, keeping them out of management positions.