Posted On: June 8, 2009 by Peter M. LaSorsa

Menards Ordered To Pay $1.5 Million To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Dawn Sands, former vice-president and executive general counsel of Menard Inc. was awarded $1.5 million in back pay and damages and rehired at a higher salary according to an arbitration agreement. The case started when Sands was earning $70,000 and she complained, prompting the company to terminate her employment. She filed a lawsuit claiming gender discrimination and retaliation.

Menards appealed the arbitration award and on April 14, 2009 the Wisconsin Third District Court ruled against Menards and upheld the arbitration award. The Court also found Menards in contempt for not rehiring sands and scheduled another hearing to determine damages.

Laws in Illinois provide that gender discrimination occurs if a company terminates or otherwise take an adverse job action against an employee because of the sex of the employee. A companies policies and employment rules must be applied equally to all employees. Policies and employment rules which have a disproportionately adverse impact on one sex are strictly prohibited under both Illinois and Federal law. In short, if you are a female and have the same qualifications of a man and do the same job but get less money you may have a gender based discrimination claim.

Under federal law (Title VII), retaliation occurs when an employee is fired or has his/her terms and conditions of work changed as a result of making a formal complaint of discrimination. Title VII also protects those individuals who testify, assist or participate in an investigation of illegal activity or those who oppose unlawful employment practices.

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