Birmingham, Ala. – The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (“EEOC”) has brought a federal lawsuit against Bringham Beverage Co. Inc., dba AlaBev, for racial discrimination as a result of the company systematically failing to promote its African American employees to lucrative sales positions, while, simultaneously,  promoting less experienced white employees to these same positions.

Ronnie Johnson, a six-year, African American, driver supervisor at Alabev was recently denied a promotion to a route sales position. Alabev, a wholesale distributor and importer of beer, cider, alcohol-free drinks and specialty foods, violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it failed to promote, or even interview, Johnson for the sales position, instead hiring a white delivery driver with only 9 months of experience, whom Johnson had supervised.

According to the EEOC, Alabev, not only discriminated against Johnson when it failed to promote him, but Alabev had an entire system of discriminating against its African American employees through its promotion policies. The EEOC alleges, that over the past four years, Alabev hired or promoted at least 11 white applicants for its route sales positions, and no black applicants or employees. In fact, of the 22 routes it services, Alabev only has two black route salesmen who are assigned to predominantly black neighborhoods. Further, the EEOC alleges that Alabev fails to keep announcements of job openings for vacant route sales positions.
The EEOC is the administrative agency created by Title VII tasked with handling claims of employment discrimination at the federal level. Under Title VII, employers are prohibited from discriminating against any employee on the basis of race when making employment decisions, including who to promote. Before an individual can bring a federal claim against their employer, their employer must qualify as an employer for the purposes of Title VII claims. Under Title VII, an employer must have at least 15 employees to be a qualified employee under Title VII.

Once it is determined that the employer has at least 15 employees, that employee files a claim with the EEOC. The EEOC issues one of three determinations:

1) a finding of no probable cause,

2) a right to sue letter, or

3) a finding of probable cause.

If the EEOC issues a finding of no probable cause, that means there is no probable cause that discrimination has occurred, and your claim is dead in the water. If the EEOC issues a right to sue letter, that means they did not find enough probable cause to pick up the claim themselves, but you can still file your claim directly in federal court. However, if the EEOC issues you a determination of probable cause, that means they believe there is enough probable cause that discrimination has occurred that EEOC is willing to litigate the claim on your behalf.

While the EEOC will aid the individual in litigating the claim, when the EEOC issues a finding of probable cause or issues a right-to-sue letter, the employee is free to consult an individual attorney who will work with the EEOC or file the employees claim directly in federal court.

Here, the EEOC has picked up Johnson’s claim and attempted to settle the claim in pre-litigation with Alabev, however they could not come to a resolution and the EEOC filed their claim against Alabev in the Northern District of Alabama. They are seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
Title VII prohibits employment discrimination at the federal level. The New York City sexual harassment attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC, have years of experience working with the EEOC to litigate claims of employment discrimination. Together, with our sexual harassment attorneys, the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC are experienced at litigating claims of employment discrimination. If you feel you have been discriminated against in the workplace, give our talented attorneys a call, toll-free at 800-807-2209, for your free consultation.