For Immediate Release: May 9, 2013
MDHR Investigation Results in a $50,000 Settlement in a Marital Discrimination Case
ST. PAUL, MN – A Minnesota Human Rights investigation involving the marital discrimination of a St. Cloud-based auto parts chain employee, who was fired after her husband quit the company and took a job with a competitor, resulted in a $50,000 settlement.
"It is rare for the Department of Human Rights to receive charges of discrimination based on marital status," said Commissioner Kevin Lindsey. "It's important for employers and employees to be aware that employment discrimination based on a person's marital status is illegal in Minnesota. This serves as a reminder to everyone that charges of discrimination based on marital status can be filed, and will be thoroughly investigated, by the Department."
Before she lost her job in 2010, JoDee Goblirsch of Pennock, Minn. worked as a bookkeeper, delivery person and performed a variety of other duties at the Auto Value Parts Store in Willmar. Her husband worked as the manager of an Auto Value store in Bird Island. There are approximately 102 Auto Value Parts Stores located throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
In April 2010, Mr. Goblirsch submitted his two-week notice to his employer, having accepted a job with Napa Autoparts in Olivia. In a charge filed with the Department of Human Rights in July 2010, JoDee Goblirsch stated that she and her husband were told that the company disapproved of family members working for competitors, and that she could be terminated if Mr. Goblirsch accepted a job with Napa.
On her husband's last day of work, she was fired. She was told that the reason for her termination was his new job, she stated in her charge to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. In the response, Auto Value Parts Stores representatives stated that it had not discriminated against JoDee Goblirsch. Additionally, her husband's move to a competitor violated the company's conflict of interest policy.
A Department of Human Rights' investigation found the company's conflict of interest policy was overly broad and could apply to almost all employees who worked at Ms. Goblirsch's location. It is not reasonable to claim that a policy with such a broad, punitive scope is necessary to preserve market competitiveness, the Department concluded.
The Department found probable cause to believe that the company had engaged in discrimination in employment on the basis of marital status, in violation of the Human Rights Act.
In a Department of Human Rights' negotiated settlement, the Automotive Parts Headquarters, Inc., which operates the Auto Value Parts Stores, agreed to pay $50,000 to JoDee Goblirsch and her attorneys. In addition, it would pay a civil penalty of $5,000 to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. The company also agreed to review its policies and procedures and provide training on the fair employment provisions of the Human Rights Act to the management staff at all its Minnesota stores.
The settlement of this case does not constitute an admission of any liability of violating the Minnesota Human Rights Act or any other law, or of any wrongdoing.
Read the full case summary here.
For more information about this case or your rights under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, visit mn.gov/mdhr or follow the conversation on Twitter at @mnhumanrights.
Contact: Jeff Holman at 651.539.1090 or Jeff.firstname.lastname@example.org
Minnesota Department of Human Rights, Communications Department Freeman Building, 625 Robert Street North, Saint Paul, MN 55155 mn.gov/mdhr
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