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Parking company reaches settlement with EEOC over firings

LAZ Parking will pay $155,000 and refrain from discrimination based on national origin under an agreement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The EEOC alleged that LAZ Parking, which operates parking lots nationwide, eliminated three long-term employees based on their national origin — two were Moroccan and one was Ethiopian — when it changed from a cashier exit to an automated payment system in 2015, according to a news release from the agency. The operations manager told one of the employees that the three were selected for termination because of their “broken English.”

The employees had been with the company since 2009; two others who kept their jobs had less experience.

“These long-term employees did their jobs well and were able to communicate with the customers but were laid off based on their national origins or accents, which was unfair and unlawful,” EEOC District Director Jamie R. Williamson said in a statement.

The EEOC filed suit last year, alleging the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on national origin. The parties agreed to a consent decree and U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake approved the agreement Monday.

Under the consent decree, the three employees will receive lost wages and compensatory damages and the company will distribute guidelines on proper factors to consider in layoff decisions to all managers and human resources workers in the Baltimore area. Supervisors and managers will also be trained in anti-discrimination policies. The agreement is for two years.

“Employment decisions should be based on qualifications, not national origin,” EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said in a statement. “We are pleased that LAZ Parking joined with us to reach a settlement that compensates these employees and protects other workers from national origin discrimination.”

LAZ Parking is represented by Larry Seegull and Mary McCudden of Jackson Lewis P.C. in Baltimore. They were not immediately available for comment Tuesday.

The case is EEOC v. LAZ Parking Mid-Atlantic, LLC, 1:18-cv-02963.

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