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Tire Co. Inks $2M Deal To Exit EEOC Sex Bias Row

By Jacob Fischler

Law360, Washington (March 25, 2016, 2:19 PM ET) -- A New York tire company reached an agreement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to a consent decree in federal court on Thursday, dismissing a discrimination suit in return for a $2.1 million payout and an order not to base hiring decisions on applicants' sex.

Mavis Discount Tire Inc. agreed to a host of conditions on its hiring practices, including an outright ban on not hiring otherwise qualified women job applicants. The agreement outlines a plan for Mavis to increase its hiring of women, and ordered the company to adopt recruitment strategies, reach various percentages of women hires in certain positions and appoint two officers to internally monitor its progress and report to the EEOC.

The decree also ordered the retailer to pay $2.1 million, "divided among 46 aggrieved women," according to an EEOC statement on Friday.

In a phone call on Friday, an attorney for the named job applicants who alleged discrimination in hiring said that the order was "monumental" and could be used as a model to allow women in the automotive industry to be treated fairly in hiring decisions. The attorney, William Lasko, noted that women in the military work as mechanics and in other automotive jobs. He also praised the EEOC's attorneys for helping bring about about the agreement.

"It's a really monumental consent decree that breaks down doors in what has been a male-dominated industry," he said. "I think what the decree establishes is that there are many competent women that can compete in that sector and this particular decree allows for that. I think it's very critical to the development and fostering of opportunities for women in this industry."

Lasko also said that Mavis deserved credit "on some level."

In her own statement on Friday, Paige Koudijs, a co-owner and executive vice president of the company, said that the company was pleased to have reached a decision after eight years of litigations the case.

"Since this matter began, we have taken many steps in furtherance of our commitment to be an equal opportunity employer," she said. "By implementing an online recruitment system, providing training to our employees on how to create and work in a discrimination-free workplace and welcoming both a director of employee development and a vice president of human resources to our team, we have positioned ourselves to continue to promote diversity."

The consent decree closes a federal complaint that was launched in January 2012, saying that an applicant filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC alleging that Mavis violated Title VII since at least 2008, by intentionally discriminating against female applicants with a hiring system that gives employment opportunities to less qualified males instead of more qualified females. The discrimination spans manager, assistant manager, mechanic and tire installer positions.

The complaint said that of all of Mavis' 800 field employees, only one was female, and she was hired in 1990. But between 2008 and 2010, Mavis hired nearly 1,300 male field employees, refusing to give positions to qualified female applicants.

The EEOC is represented by Jeffrey Burstein, Raechel Adams and Jadhira Rivera.

The plaintiff-intervenors are represented by William Lasko, and William Li of The Boyd Group PLLC.

Mavis is represented by Greg Anthony Riolo and Paul J. Siegel of Jackson Lewis PC, and in-house by Jennifer Papas.

The suit is Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Mavis Discount Tire Inc. et al., case number 1:12-cv-00741, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

--Editing by Stephen Berg.

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