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Garment firm settles over discrimination

  • Story Highlights
  • Firm faced four suits alleging harassment over pregnancies, discrimination
  • L&T has to take measures to prevent future potential discrimination abuses
  • Northern Mariana Islands are just north of the U.S. territory of Guam
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(CNN) -- A major garment manufacturer in the U.S. North Pacific commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands settled with the U.S. government for $1.7 million after workers accused employers of ethnic and gender-based discrimination, the government announced.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged that L&T Group of Companies, Ltd., which it described as the largest manufacturing company in the capital, Saipan, discriminated against its employees because of pregnancy, nationality and age.

The federal government asserts that L&T, a conglomerate of six companies, "engaged in a pattern or practice of wrongfully terminating a class of Filipino employees and replacing them with Chinese workers because of their national origin," according to the consent decrees.

In another complaint, an employee had to quit because of harassment she received at work as a Filipino employee older than 40, said the decrees. The commission alleged that other women dealt with harassment and/or were fired because of their pregnancies.

A fourth suit accused the company of terminating 14 Filipino and Bangladeshi employees as "retaliation" for filing complaints with the employment commission, said a decree.

In addition to the payment, L&T companies had to take take measures to prevent future potential discrimination abuses. Such steps include hiring an equal opportunity consultant, training employees about discrimination and distributing information about the issue in the primary language of the employee receiving it.

L&T did not respond to a request for comment from CNN on Wednesday. The company did not admit to any wrongdoing in the decrees, which were made public on Tuesday.

For the U.S. commission, the case reflects the government's pursuit against discrimination.

"No matter how far the company is from the mainland we will be vigilant in protecting individuals who have been discriminated against," said Santos Albarran, a program analyst at the commission's Los Angeles district office. The Los Angeles office presides over cases in the U.S.-led Pacific Islands, including Guam, Hawaii and American Samoa.

The $1.7 million payment will be divided among more than 110 aggrieved employees, according to the decrees and Albarran. The commission is trying to identify other employees who may have been discriminated against by L&T, Albarran said.

The Northern Mariana Islands are just north of the U.S. territory of Guam.

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