Nashville at law: EEOC files twice

Also: Lebanon Country Club faces FLSA claim

It's fairly unusual for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to actually file suit.

Just 14 times since 2009 is the federal agency listed as a plaintiff in Tennessee's Middle District. The commission generally attempts to settle complaints out of court or issues right-to-sue letters to complaintants, allowing them to instead initiate court action.

Thus, it was a bit of shock when the EEOC was named as a plaintiff in two suits filed Tuesday.

Other than their filing date, the two cases have another similarity: complaintants with anxiety disorders.

In the first, the EEOC alleges that manufacturer Hoegaenes Inc. did not hire Edward Love for a mechanic position because he was taking anxiety medication, despite assurances from Love's primary care physician that he "should be able to perform his job duties without restriction." Love was also taking medicine for hypertension though, again, his doctor assured the company Love's blood pressure was under control.

In the second case, the EEOC charged that Turner Machine Co. fired an employee for making a complaint.

According to the filing, Ken Woodard was working as a mechanical engineer at Turner’s facility in Smyrna and expressed reservations about daily mandatory employee meetings called huddles, during which employees would discuss milestones occurring in their personal lives, including their religious affiliations and church activities. The huddles frequently included prayer. 

Woodard asked to be excused from the huddles due to an anxiety disorder and initially that request was granted. Eventually, he was told he would have to attend the huddles and was then pressed on his religious beliefs. He subsequently filed a religious and disability discrimination charge. Shortly after receiving formal notice of the charge from the EEOC, Turner filed a charge of theft against Woodard that was "unsubstantiated."

The EEOC, as it frequently does, resolved the discrimination issue through mediation. Or at least the agency believed it had resolved the issue. Woodard was fired 10 days after mediation was complete.

Country Club class

One current and two former employees of the Lebanon Golf & Country Club filed suit this week alleging the Wilson County club does not make a practice of paying overtime.

Charles Miller, Charles Stafford and DeQuan Rhodes say they and — in the parlance of potential class-action suits — "other similarly situated employees" were regularly asked to work in excess of 40 hours per week but were told by the club's manager, "We don’t pay overtime. We’ve been doing it this way for a long time and we’re not changing it now."

The men are seeking unpaid overtime for themselves and for any other plaintiffs who come forward.