EEOC sues Meritus Credit Union for retaliation

NEW ORLEANS – Lafayette Schools’ Federal Credit Union unlawfully fired its only African-
American branch manager because she opposed — and assisted another black employee in opposing — itsuse of a racially offensive video during a training session, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed here today.
Lafayette Schools’ Federal Credit Union, which recently changed its name to Meritus Credit
Union, is based in Lafayette. The branch manager, Connie Fields-Meaux, ran its branch in Crowley,
La., for about three years. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, during a training session, Lafayette Schools’ Federal Credit Union used a video depicting a caricature of an African-American fast food worker as an example of “how not to provide customer service.”

According to the suit, Fields-Meaux was so upset by the video that she momentarily excused herself from the session and that other black employees told Fields-Meaux that they, too, were upset by the video.

The EEOC said that Fields-Meaux reported the concerns of one of the African-American employees the next day, and the day after that, Lafayette Schools’ Federal Credit Union fired her, without warning or explanation.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The EEOC filed its suit (Civil Action No. 2:18-cv-06673) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana after first
attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The EEOC, which has authority to bring the suit on behalf of the public, has asked the court to
permanently enjoin Lafayette Schools’ Federal Credit Union from engaging in future retaliation.

It has also asked the court to order it to pay Fields-Meaux both punitive and compensatory damages as well as back pay.
“Employers must respond to — and certainly not fire — employees who raise concerns about
racially offensive materials,” said Keith Hill, director for the EEOC’s New Orleans Field Office today.
Rudy Sustaita, regional attorney for the Houston District Office, cautioned, “Retaliating against
employees for reporting racially offensive workplace conduct is a serious violation of federal law that the
EEOC will prosecute.”

The credit union released the following statement about the suit:

After being reported earlier today in local media outlets,Meritus Credit Union was notified by its legal counsel that the organization has been named in a law suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Having just received this notification,we are consulting with our legal team. We value the dedicated service of our employees and we are committed to providing a positive workplace environment with equal opportunity for all. In the case of this particular personnel matter,we will work closely with our legal counsel to defend our organization against this false claim.

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