Over the past year, Harley-Davidson Motor Company has been on the receiving end of discrimination allegations from a former employee, Connie S. Steven. Back in October 2016, Steven “filed a petition for damages in the Platte County Circuit Court…after receiving a right-to-sue notice from the Missouri Commission on Human Rights.” Now it appears that the particular lawsuit may be coming to a close, as a hearing was recently scheduled to “discuss a possible settlement in the employment discrimination lawsuit.”
Over the past year, Harley-Davidson Motor Company has been on the receiving end of discrimination allegations from a former employee, Connie S. Steven. Back in October 2016, Steven “filed a petition for damages in the Platte County Circuit Court…after receiving a right-to-sue notice from the Missouri Commission on Human Rights.” Now it appears that the particular lawsuit may be coming to a close, as a hearing was recently scheduled to “discuss a possible settlement in the employment discrimination lawsuit.” But what happened to prompt the lawsuit in the first place?
For 17 years Steven worked at a Harley-Davidson facility in Platte County where she allegedly met “all the requirements for the various positions she held and received raises and bonuses for her work performance on a regular basis.” According to the lawsuit, she regularly worked more than 80 hours a week when she served as an inventory lead. With such a heavy workload, Steven eventually developed health issues, such as acute bronchitis, chronic sinusitis, and exhaustion. At the advice of her doctor, she took “several days off work to recover from her physical ailments” back in early September 2015, and when she was cleared to “return to work on Sept. 16, 2015, she told her supervisor she needed to reduce her work hours and take a medical leave of absence.”
However, just two days later the company’s human resource director, Jon Proden, met with Steven and informed her that she was “being suspended pending an investigation into a forklift accident that occurred at an ancillary warehouse on Aug. 26, 2015.” While being escorted from the building, Proden took her company issued phone and laptop.
When discussing the forklift accident, Steven alleges she only “indirectly supervised the Harley-Davidson employee who was allegedly injured while operating the forklift truck at an off-premise facility,” and that “Harley-Davidson did not take into account the fact that the injured employee’s direct supervisor was aware the employee was operating the forklift without proper certification or experience.”
Unfortunately for Steven, she was relieved of her duties after a four-day investigation, though “no other employees were disciplined in the forklift accident,” according to the lawsuit. That’s a big reason why Steven decided to file the lawsuit, alleging gender and age discrimination against the company and her supervisors.
“Defendants manifested their unlawful gender bias through their actions and statements, including, but not limited to, terminating plaintiff’s employment for pretextual reasons, while similar situated male employees were treated more favorably.”
Additionally, when addressing the alleged age discrimination, the lawsuit “contends the defendants intentionally discriminated against Steven and failed to make good faith efforts to enforce policies to prevent age discrimination.” As a result, she is seeking “$25,000 in damages to correct the defendant’s alleged unlawful age bias,” and in an effort to “recover lost wages and benefits coupled with damages for emotional pain and suffering, Steven is seeking another $25,000.”
In addition to the allegations of age and gender discrimination, Steven’s lawsuit also claims her “physical impairment or disability was a contributing factor in Harley-Davidson’s decision to terminate her employment.” It contends that “at the time of the firing, Steven was a qualified individual with a disability under the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA).”
In response to the lawsuit filed late last year, Harley-Davidson “denied any wrongdoing and maintained that Steven was not eligible for any relief.” The company also argued that Steven was responsible for the forklift accident that led to an “employee working under Steven’s direct and immediate supervision suffering a serious work-related injury at an off-premises warehouse while driving a forklift truck that she was not qualified to operate.”
At the moment, the hearing to discuss a potential settlement is scheduled for the morning of January 5, 2018.