Court Saw Through Company’s Attempt at Retaliation
Employer sued woman after her complaint of unfair pay
In a lot of ways, Tera Lopez personifies many workers’ worst fears
about facing off against a company. Lopez found herself on the receiving
end of a lawsuit by her former employer after she filed a discrimination
Unfortunately, all too many instances of discrimination go unchecked because
employees are afraid to speak up. Worried that they’ll wind up with
a target on their backs, they continue to put up with unfair or unlawful behavior.
However, as Lopez’s case shows, justice is possible. Let’s
take a look at what happened to her and then discuss how federal law handles
unlawful retaliation against employees.
Revenge though the courts
Tera Lopez was tired of being paid less than her male counterparts at Hobson
Bearing International. After three years with the company, she quit her
job as a project manager and filed a complaint with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The EEOC investigated Lopez’s complaint, but made no determination
about the company’s pay practices.
Even though the company escaped legal trouble from the EEOC, it still had
an axe to grind over the complaint. Hobson sued Lopez for malicious prosecution.
Once again, Lopez turned to the EEOC. This time, Hobson wasn’t so
lucky. The agency sued the company, claiming that it unlawfully retaliated
against Lopez for filing her original complaint. It pointed out that employees
who complain about unlawful activity fall into a protected class that
shields them from retaliation. Because the company’s lawsuit was
directly related to Lopez’s complaint, the EEOC alleged that the
company was in violation of federal law.
Lopez won. The court ruled that Hobson violated federal law by suing Lopez
over her complaint.
Hobson had to pay Lopez $37,500 and drop its lawsuit against her.
(The case discussed here is EEOC v. Hobson Bearing International, Inc.)
Protection from retaliation
The EEOC states that about 45% of the complaints it receives involve some
form of employer retaliation.
However, it’s important to know that federal law offers workers protection
from retaliation after they have complained about unlawful or perceived
unlawful activity. Some states and municipalities also have their own
The EEOC has recently released
new enforcement guidelines to help ensure that workers are protected.
Contact us now for a free consultation
Retaliation complaints can be complicated, as they may fall under a variety
of federal, state, and local statues. If you believe that you’ve
been the victim of unlawful retaliation, it’s a good idea to speak
to an attorney.
Call or email us today to discuss your unique situation.