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Consent decree approved, settling age discrimination lawsuit against ASG

A federal judge in Honolulu has approved the consent decree, which settles the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) age discrimination lawsuit against the American Samoa Government, and ASG now must begin to implement various provisions of the decree over a three-year period.

U.S. District Court Judge J. Michael Seabright’s approval last Friday of the 15-page decree sets a milestone that the federal government says will ensure that the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is fully enforced in American Samoa.

“The EEOC is committed to addressing discrimination throughout the United States, including the U.S. territory of American Samoa. Ongoing training is an important and necessary tool to prevent and address discrimination in the workplace,” said Timothy Riera, director of the EEOC’s Honolulu Office, in an EEOC statement last week.

American Samoa Department of Human Resources director Evelyn Vaitautolu Langford told Samoa News last Thursday that she is pleased with the outcome of this case as it affirms ASG’s sustained commitment to its employees and upholding federal employment laws.

Provisions of the decree state in part that this agreement shall not be construed to limit or reduce ASG’s obligation to comply fully with the ADEA or any other federal employment statute, and the decree in no way affects the EEOC’s right to bring, process, investigate or litigate other charges that may be in existence or may later arise against ASG in accordance with standard EEOC procedures, except for the charges specifically referenced in this decree.

Another provision of the decree calls for ASG to designate an Equal Employment Opportunity Officer who will be trained in EEO compliance, to implement and monitor ASG’s compliance with provisions of federal law and the decree. The local EEO officer can also be trained by the EEOC and paid for by ASG.

Seabright ruled that each party shall bear its own costs of suit and attorneys’ fees. The decree makes clear that this issue remains under the jurisdiction of the federal court during the three year period, and that both parties have agreed that the Honolulu federal court has jurisdiction over this case.

(See last Friday’s Samoa News edition for other details from the decree that ensure that all involved are aware of the details of this important document, which remains in effect for three years.)