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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Heartland Employment Services

June 7, 2010

U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HEARTLAND EMPLOYMENT SERVICES, LLC D/B/A MANORCARE HEALTH SERVICES-CITRUS HEIGHTS, DEFENDANT.



CONSENT DECREE

Plaintiff, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("Commission") commenced this action on February 28, 2008, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII"). The Commission's action was brought to correct alleged unlawful practices on the basis of religion. At all times Defendant Heartland Employment Services ("Heartland") has denied any violation of Title VII.

As a result of settlement discussions, the Commission and Heartland have resolved their differences and, pursuant to the Commission's policy that the only way this matter can be settled is to have a Consent Decree entered, this matter is being settled pursuant to this Decree. It is the intent of the parties that this Consent Decree be a final and binding settlement in full disposition of any and all claims arising out of this case. Nothing in this Consent Decree should be construed as an admission of liability or wrongdoing by Heartland.

It is therefore the finding of this Court, made on the pleadings and the record as a whole, that: 1) the Court has jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter of this action; 2) the purpose and provisions of Title VII will be promoted and effectuated by the entry of this Consent Decree; and 3) this Consent Decree resolves all matters in controversy between the parties as provided in the paragraphs below.

NON-DISCRIMINATION AND RETALIATION

1. Heartland and its officers, agents, employees, and successors agree for the duration of this Decree that they shall not:

(a) discriminate against any employee on the basis of religion; or (b) retaliate against any employee because s/he: (i) opposes discriminatory practices based upon religion which are unlawful under Title VII; (ii) files a charge of discrimination or assists or participates in the filing of such a charge; or (iii) assists or participates in an investigation or proceeding brought under the federal laws prohibiting discrimination or retaliation.

MONETARY RELIEF

1. Within fourteen (14) calendar days after this Consent Decree has been entered by the Court, Heartland agrees to pay Baljit Kaur Bhandal the amount of $30,000, less applicable state and federal withholding taxes. Heartland shall issue a W-2 form for this amount in the ordinary course of business. Heartland shall mail the check directly to Ms. Bhandal at her home address via certified mail, return receipt requested. Within ten (10) calendar days thereafter, Heartland shall mail a copy of the check and certified mail receipt to Marcia L. Mitchell, Senior Trial Attorney, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 350 The Embarcadero, Suite 500, San Francisco, California, 94105.

2. Heartland will not condition the receipt of individual relief on Ms. Bhandal's agreement to:

(a) waive her statutory right to file a charge with any federal or state anti-discrimination agency; or

(c) waive her right to apply for a position with Heartland.

POLICY

1. The parties acknowledge that Heartland has had and continues to have a religious accommodation policy in place that is available to employees on the company intranet and in hard copy in the human resources department.

2. The parties acknowledge that Heartland has a legal obligation to provide a safe environment for the residents of its facilities. The parties acknowledge that these security concerns may, depending on the circumstances and after meeting and conferring with the individual involved, provide a legitimate basis for Heartland to impose some requirements or restrictions relating to the individual's kirpan or the manner in which it is worn.

NON-MONETARY RELIEF

1. Within ninety (90) calendar days after this Consent Decree has been entered by the Court, Heartland will post the statement, attached as Exhibit A, in a conspicuous place on its premises in Citrus Heights, California, where employee notices are posted, encouraging employees to report any claims of religious discrimination to a manager, human resources, or the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission if they believe they have been discriminated against on the basis of religion. This statement will include the names and telephone numbers of managers or human resources staff to whom employees can make such a report;

2. Heartland will maintain the confidentiality of any religious discrimination reports and investigate these reports in a prompt and fair manner;

3. Heartland will not retaliate against employees who believe they have been discriminated against based on their religious beliefs, nor will it retaliate ...


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