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Les Schwab to pay $2 million to settle EEOC suit

Les Schwab Tire Centers, one of the largest automotive businesses in the West, has agreed to pay $2 million to settle claims it refused to hire qualified women who applied for jobs changing tires.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the company four years ago in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

“The EEOC will continue to investigate employers and industries that have put women in certain types of jobs, and men in others,” said Mike Baldonado, director of the agency’s San Francisco district. “We hope Les Schwab becomes a model employer of women in the male-dominated tire industry.”

Slightly more than 200 women — denied “sales and service” jobs in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Utah since 2004 — will be eligible for a share of the settlement, said EEOC regional attorney William R. Tamayo.

Les Schwab, headquartered in Bend, Ore., disputed lawsuit’s allegations and succeeded in having some of the claims — that it failed to promote women to management and failed to provide them with training — dismissed.

The company did not admit guilt in the settlement but did agree to continue anti-discrimination training for employees and to try to hire women in proportion to their numbers within the applicant pool for vacant jobs.

The tire company has 420 stores and 6,600 employees.

“Resolution of this dispute allows Les Schwab to continue its strong focus on supporting our employees so that they can deliver excellent customer service,” Les Schwab human resources vice president Jodie Hueske said in a written statement.

About The Associated Press