The Association of U S West Retirees



Qwest settles bias case for $400,000
By Jeff Smith
Rocky Mountain News
Thursday, April 13, 2006

Qwest Communications has agreed to pay $400,000 to settle a job-promotion discrimination lawsuit involving a group of Hispanic employees in Oregon between 1998 and 2001, federal authorities said Wednesday.  The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged the employees were denied promotions to management jobs at Qwest's Portland, Ore., facilities.  Qwest denied the allegations.

"We are committed to fighting discrimination in all its forms and in every jurisdiction," EEOC San Francisco regional attorney William Tamayo said in a statement.  "This settlement represents a fair and equitable resolution of the disputed issues in the case."

The Denver telco also agreed to maintain its annual employment discrimination training, continue to provide training to hiring managers in Portland and file annual reports to the EEOC during the two-year consent decree.

The alleged behavior occurred before the merger between U S West and Qwest in 2000 and in the year afterward.

Qwest spokesman Bob Toevs said the company has had a compliance team in place for some time that specializes in employment issues.

"We take allegations of unethical or illegal conduct, which would include discrimination, very seriously," he said.

Toevs also noted the company recently has won several awards for its support of Hispanics.

In February, the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce named Qwest its corporation of the year, and just this week the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce announced that Qwest is its corporate advocate of the year.  The April 2006 issue of Hispanic Magazine ranks Qwest one of the top 25 companies for Hispanics.

Nancy Weeks, a supervisory trial attorney in the EEOC's Denver field office, said she couldn't disclose whether any Qwest Hispanic employees in Denver had filed complaints.  But Weeks said she hopes the Oregon settlement will "reverberate" - making people think twice about such behavior.

Weeks called the settlement "hefty," considering it involved only eight employees and their promotion issues.

Job-discrimination lawsuits over hiring practices occasionally have brought even more sizable settlements or judgments.  Last year, a federal jury in Denver awarded more than $8 million to a 36-year-old blind man after concluding that EchoStar Communications wouldn't hire him solely because of his disability.,2777,DRMN_23910_4617074,00.html