Qwest settles bias case for
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
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
"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
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