Equal Emp't Opportunity Comm'n v. N. Star Hospitality, Inc, No. 14-1660 (7th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Miller, an African-American male, worked as a cook for Hospitality’s Sparx Restaurant. Miller became assistant kitchen manager and was a satisfactory employee. On October 1, 2010, Miler discovered racially offensive pictures at the kitchen cooler. Miller lodged a complaint. Two employees admitted responsibility. The manager agreed that the posting was a termination-worthy offense, but one offender was given a warning and the other was not disciplined. Soon after Miller’s complaint, supervisors began to criticize Miller’s work performance. Sparx fired Miller on October 23, 2010. The EEOC filed suit on Miller’s behalf under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(a), 3(a). Before trial, Sparx had closed and Hospitality had dissolved. The court concluded that successor corporations could be liable. The jury awarded $15,000 in compensatory damages on the retaliation claim. The EEOC sought additional remedies. The district court denied the front-pay request but awarded Miller $43,300.50 in back pay (and interest) plus $6,495.00 to offset impending taxes on the award; enjoined the companies from discharging employees in retaliation for complaints against racially offensive postings; and required them to adopt policies, investigative processes, and annual training consistent with Title VII. The Seventh Circuit affirmed with respect to both successor liability and the equitable remedies.