EEOC Sues IXL Learning Inc. for Retaliating Against Employee Who Posted Negative Comments on Glassdoor.com
The EEOC announced that it filed a lawsuit against IXL Learning Inc. for allegedly violating federal law. According to the EEOC, IXL retaliated against an employee for accusing the company of discriminatory practices on Glassdoor.com. The employer allegedly fired an employee within minutes of confronting the employee about a negative review he posted on Glassdoor.com.
According to the EEOC’s press release, “the 32-year-old transgender man, fueled by a belief that IXL was discriminating against him, had written, “If you’re not a family-oriented white or Asian straight or mainstream gay person with 1.7 kids who really likes softball – then you’re likely to find yourself on the outside … Most management do not know what the word ‘discrimination’ means, nor do they seem to think it matters.”’ The employee also felt IXL treated his request to telecommute (due to post-operative recovery after gender confirmation surgery) differently from similar requests by two coworkers (due to situations related to their opposite-sex spouses). “Given these experiences, Duane posted on Glassdoor.com in opposition to what he regarded as discrimination, and was fired for doing so.”
Retaliation for Posting on Glassdoor.com
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), prohibit firing an employee for opposing discrimination. This includes posting criticisms online. The EEOC’s lawsuit seeks lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief designed to prevent discrimination in the future. There is no mention whether the company will seek damages against the employee for potentially defamatory statements.
William Tamay, the EEOC’s San Francisco District Office director, reports “Retaliation is the No. 1 basis for charges filed with the EEOC, comprising over 45% filings nationwide … Under the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan, it is a priority to defend employees’ rights to speak out and challenge practices that they believe to be illegal discrimination.”
EEOC Trial Attorney Ami Sanghvi added, “While the platforms for employees to speak out against discrimination are evolving with technology, the laws against retaliation remain constant. If an employee reasonably believes that illegal discrimination occurred, the EEOC will vigorously defend that worker’s right to raise the issue, whether they do so by filing a charge with our agency, notifying company management or posting in a public arena such as Glassdoor.com.”
Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.
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