Longs Drugs, EEOC settle suit for race and gender bias, retaliation against female African-American buyer

Major pharmacy chain Longs Drugs has agreed to pay $55,000 and implement preventive training to settle a Title VII race and sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency advised on May 31, 2011. The commission sued on behalf of an African-American female buyer who had been employed at Longs Drugs, which was later bought by CVS Caremark.

The suit filed by the EEOC in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California alleged that Marcia Guaman was treated by Longs Drugs very differently from colleagues who were not black or female (No 3:10-CV-04384-RS). For example, the commission said that Guaman received verbal and written warnings for her performance numbers, while white female coworkers with lower scores did not face any disciplinary action. Guaman’s requests for vacation days were also denied, even though she asked for them prior to white coworkers who were granted vacation for the same dates, according to the EEOC. Guaman was discharged from her position a few months after she raised the differential treatment issue to human resources.

The EEOC filed suit against Longs Drugs and CVS Caremark, which is liable as Longs’ successor. Both companies denied any wrongdoing.

According to the terms of the consent decree settling the suit, CVS will pay $55,000 to Guaman and change its policies to clarify employee protections against discrimination and implement training designed to prevent future retaliation or discrimination.

“Employers should guard against bias creeping in to distort company policies, and training staff is an important preventive measure,” remarked EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo.