Michelle E. Shaw, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 30, 2009
The federal agency that investigates workplace discrimination is suing John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods, alleging discrimination against black sales agents.
The suit, filed Thursday by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleges Wieland assigned black sales agents to developments based on the race of the surrounding community. The practice resulted in black agents earning significantly less than white counterparts, who were assigned to areas where higher-priced homes were sold, the suit claims.
John Wieland, the company’s chief executive, said the allegations are false.
The case stems from allegations in 2004 by Michelle Mouser, a white Wieland employee. Mouser, who no longer works at the company, alleged that black agents weren’t allowed to sell homes in predominently white subdivisions. She also said there was disparity in pay and commissions.
The suit filed Thursday seeks back pay and damages for Mouser and an unspecified number of affected sales agents.
In 2006, the EEOC successfully took Wieland to court to get records related to its investigation of Mouser’s claims. EEOC officials also sought organizational charts as well as information about the company’s compensation and assignment policies and practices for sales agents.
Robert Dawkins, EEOC’s regional attorney in Atlanta, said that during a 2006 hearing Wieland argued that Mouser didn’t have the right to make a claim on behalf of black sales agents and employees because she was not harmed herself.