Posted On: July 12, 2009 by Peter M. LaSorsa

Vail Corp. Settles Gender and Religious Discrimination Lawsuit for $80,000

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") says The Vail Corp. will pay $80,000 as part of a settlement of a religious and gender discrimination lawsuit. According to the lawsuit an emergency services supervisor, Lisa Marie Cornwell was harassed based on her gender and religion at Vail's Keystone Resort ski area. Cornwell was denied religious accommodations, was treated less favorably than her male colleagues and was fired in retaliation for complaining.

According to the lawsuit Cornwells supervisor Garcia ridiculed Cornwell for asking for scheduling accommodation so that she could attend her preferred religious services, and denied her requests while scheduling lower ranking officers for the shifts she requested. Also, Garcia created and tolerated a sexually hostile work environment where he and other male employees made offensive sexual comments and jokes in the workplace. Cornwell complained to various Keystone managers and human resource staff about the harassment and being scheduled to miss her religious services on Sundays, but no action was taken to resolve the problems. The EEOC alleged that Cornwell was fired in retaliation for her last complaint, made less than ten days before her termination.

“Title VII imposes an affirmative obligation on employers to accommodate employees’ religious practices and beliefs when possible. When Congress added this provision to the statute, they expected employers to cooperate with employees to work out some reasonable accommodation. The environment in this case, where the employee was not only flatly denied accommodation, but also ridiculed for even asking, is unacceptable,” emphasized Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office.

As part of the settlement Vail agreed to provide training for employees on what constitutes unlawful discrimination based on gender and religion.

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