EEOC, Johnson International Settle Discrimination Suit

December 31, 2004

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has settled, for $450,000, its lawsuit against Johnson International Inc., a global financial services company owned by the S.C. Johnson family of Racine, Wisconsin.

The EEOC suit alleged that the company, now known as Johnson Financial Group, a member of the “Johnson Family of Companies,” discriminated against Rae Ann Good by withdrawing a job offer as executive vice president after she disclosed that she was pregnant.

Under a Consent Decree settling the suit, approved by U.S. District Judge Thomas Curran on Dec. 27, 2004, Johnson International will pay $450,000 in lost wages to Good. The company is also ordered not to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, and to report to the EEOC for the next two years concerning female applicants for executive positions.

In its lawsuit, the EEOC alleged that Good applied to Johnson Financial Group (which includes Johnson Bank, Johnson Insurance, and Johnson Asset Management) in Racine, Wis., for a position as executive vice president in April 2002. After a number of interviews and reference checks, she was offered a written employment offer, which she accepted. She then disclosed that she had recently learned that she was pregnant. The job start date was then postponed and eventually canceled, the EEOC said.

Chester Bailey, director of the EEOC’s Milwaukee District Office, noted, “The problem of women advancing into top executive positions is an ongoing concern of the EEOC. Certainly one of the factors which may contribute to the low numbers of women in such jobs is pregnancy discrimination, which we are committed to combating.”

Jean Kamp, regional attorney for the Milwaukee District Office, added that Good’s pregnancy was irrelevant to her ability to perform the job. “All workers deserve the freedom to compete and advance as far as their talent and ability will allow without regard to discriminatory barriers,” she said.

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