by Patricia A. Schaeffer, Vice President-Regulatory Affairs

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced that a judge with the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland has ruled the EEOC may proceed to trial with its class sex discrimination lawsuit against L.A. Weight Loss Centers, Inc. (LAWL) on behalf of qualified male applicants nationwide.

The EEOC sued LAWL in 2002 alleging the company violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by engaging in a pattern or practice of disparate treatment against men in its recruiting, hiring, and assignment of employees. The EEOC also charged that LAWL disciplined and then ultimately terminated a trainer with the company in retaliation for attempting to hire male applicants and for her complaints that LAWL failed to hire the qualified male applicants because of their gender.

According to the EEOC’s announcement, the court held that in a pattern or practice case under Section 707 of Title VII, the EEOC’s remedies are not limited by the 180 or 300-day period for filing an individual charge of discrimination.

The EEOC litigation team in the case, led by EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Tracy Hudson Spicer, EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Corbett Anderson, and EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Ronald Philips, pointed out that “The court’s ruling is noteworthy because it reaffirms the important principle that the EEOC possesses broad statutory authority to remedy systemic violations of Title VII in their entirety, not simply portions of a systemic violation that happened to occur within the charge filing period applicable to individual plaintiffs. We’re pleased that a jury will have an opportunity to hear the evidence and decide this case.” (emphasis added).

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