Settlement in Discrimination Lawsuit
The Justice Department has announced a settlement with the American Samoa Government (ASG) to resolve a discrimination lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for Hawaii. The lawsuit alleged that the ASG discriminated against a former employee, Simeonica Tuiteleleapaga, based on her transgender identity, violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Title VII and Its Prohibitions
Title VII is a federal statute that prohibits employment discrimination based on several factors, including sex, which encompasses sexual orientation and gender identity. It also bars retaliation against employees for opposing discriminatory employment practices.
Terms of the Consent Decree
Under the consent decree approved by the district court, the ASG is obligated to pay $125,000 as compensation to Tuiteleleapaga for the harassment she endured from her supervisor. Additionally, the ASG must implement new policies and procedures to address sex-based discrimination complaints and provide training to its employees regarding these new policies.
Protecting Transgender Employees
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division emphasized that discrimination against transgender employees is rooted in sex-based discrimination. She emphasized that transgender employees should not face discrimination, harassment, or ridicule in the workplace, and the Justice Department is committed to safeguarding the rights of LGBTQI+ employees.
Details of Harassment
The department’s complaint highlighted instances of harassment by Meki Solomona, then-director of the ASG’s Department of Human and Social Services. Solomona subjected Tuiteleleapaga to multiple instances of harassment, including humiliating remarks during department-wide meetings, misgendering her, attempting to transfer her, and refusing travel authorizations.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Hawaii District Office investigated and attempted to resolve Tuiteleleapaga’s discrimination charge before referring it to the Justice Department for enforcement action.
Justice Department’s Commitment
The enforcement of Title VII and other federal employment discrimination laws is a top priority for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. They remain dedicated to combating discrimination and protecting the rights of workers.
Senior Trial Attorney Jeffrey Morrison from the Civil Rights Division’s Employment Litigation Section managed this case.
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