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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. The Hershey Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

August 2, 2018

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
v.
THE HERSHEY COMPANY, Defendant.

          ROBERTA L. STEELE Regional Attorney, JOHN F.STANLEY Supervisory Trial Attorney DAMIENA.LEE Senior Trial Attorney TERIL.HEALY Senior Trial; Attorney Attorneys for Plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

          Michael J. Puma (admitted pro hac vice) Eric C. Kim (admitted pro hac vice) MORGAN, LEWIS & BOCKIUS LLP Sheryl J. Willert WILLIAMS KASTNER Attorneys for The Hershey Company

          [PROPOSED] CONSENT DECREE

          ROBERT S. LASNIK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         1. This action originated when Kristina Williams ("Ms. Williams") filed a charge of discrimination dated October 8, 2015 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC" or "Commission"). Ms. Williams alleged that The Hershey Company ("Defendant" or "Hershey") discriminated against her when it denied her a reasonable accommodation of her disability for her part-time Retail Sales Merchandiser ("RSM") position in May 2015, did not allow her to return to work, and then discharged her on August 19, 2015.

         2. On May 11, 2017, the EEOC issued a Letter of Determination with a finding of reasonable cause to believe that Defendant violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA), when it did not accommodate Ms. Williams starting on May 19, 2015, and when Defendant discharged her on August 19, 2015. Thereafter, EEOC attempted to conciliate the charge. However, conciliation was unsuccessful.

         3. The Commission filed its Complaint on July 19, 2017, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. The Complaint alleges that Defendant discriminated against Ms. Williams, a qualified individual with a physical disability, when it: (a) denied her a reasonable accommodation of her disability (herniated L4/L5 lumbar discs) by not providing an adjustment of her break time or work modification for her part-time Retail Sales Merchandiser position during the period May 20, 2015 to August 19, 2015 ("reasonable accommodation"); and (b) terminated her from her part-time RSM job on August 19, 2015. The EEOC sought monetary and non-monetary relief for Ms. Williams.

         4. Defendant does not admit that it has violated any federal, state or local law, and this Consent Decree shall not be deemed an admission or adjudication of liability. However, in acknowledgement of the costs and risks associated with continued litigation faced by both sides, the parties want to conclude fully and finally all claims arising out of the EEOC's Complaint and Ms. Williams's charge of discrimination filed with EEOC. The EEOC and Hershey enter into this Consent Decree to further the objectives of equal employment opportunity in the ADA.

         II. SETTLEMENT SCOPE

         5. This Consent Decree is the final and complete resolution of all allegations of unlawful employment practices contained in Ms. Williams's discrimination charge, in the EEOC's administrative determination, and in the EEOC's Complaint filed herein, including all claims by the EEOC and Hershey for attorney fees and costs.

         6. No waiver, modification or amendment of any provision of this Consent Decree shall be effective unless made in writing and approved by the Parties to this Decree, and any substantive change, modification or amendment of any provision of this Consent Decree shall also require approval by the Court.

         III. MONETARY RELIEF

         7. In settlement of this lawsuit, Hershey agrees to pay Ms. Williams the total amount of $25, 000.00 within ten (10) business days of the date of entry of this Consent Decree by delivering the following to Ms. Williams's home address by certified mail with proof of delivery:

a. A check in the amount of $4, 205.00 which constitutes back pay for Ms. Williams. The check shall be reduced by any applicable deductions for the employee's portion of FICA and applicable federal and applicable state income tax withholdings related to the payment of wages. Hershey shall pay the employer's portion of FICA. Hershey shall include a statement of payments and deductions; and
b. A separate check in the amount of $20, 795.00 as compensatory damages payable to Ms. Williams. Hershey will issue Ms. Williams an IRS form 1099 for this payment.
c. Hershey shall transmit a copy of any checks made payable to Ms. Williams, together with an accounting of employee deductions and employer contributions made, to the EEOC at the same time that payment is made to Ms. Williams as described above to:
Damien A. Lee
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Seattle Field Office
909 First Avenue, Ste. ...

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