ST. LOUIS – A bearing manufacturer in Diamond violated federal law by suing a former employee in retaliation for her complaint of pay discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed Monday.

ST. LOUIS – A bearing manufacturer in Diamond violated federal law by suing a former employee in retaliation for her complaint of pay discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed Monday.
According to EEOC’s lawsuit, Tera Lopez, a project manager for Hobson Bearing International (HBI), complained to EEOC that Hobson violated the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by paying female employees less than male employees for performing equal work.
EEOC investigated and issued no finding on the pay discrimination charge. However, within weeks of EEOC completing its investigation and issuing Lopez the statutorily required right-to-sue notice, Hobson sued her in state court, contending that her EEOC complaint was malicious prosecution.
EEOC claims that Hobson’s retaliatory lawsuit violates the act that, in addition to prohibiting unequal pay, prohibits discrimination against any employee or former employee because they file a complaint or institute a proceeding under the act.
EEOC filed suit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Hobson Bearing International, Inc., Civil Action No. 3:16-cv-05034-SWH) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. It seeks monetary relief, an order directing Hobson to dismiss the malicious prosecution lawsuit and an order requiring the company to implement new policies, practices and training to prevent discrimination and retaliation.
“EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan has made a national enforcement priority of guaranteeing everyone access to the justice system without intimidation,” said James R. Neely Jr., EEOC St. Louis district director. “Hobson’s action of bringing a baseless suit against Lopez is an egregious attempt to undermine her rights.”
EEOC Regional Attorney Andrea G. Baran said, “An employer is only making things worse when it punishes someone for making a discrimination charge, even if it strongly. The (act) protects employees who have the courage to challenge they believe to be discriminatory compensation practices from retaliation by their employers. Workers need to know that the law offers significant protections so they can confidently report evidence they may have of unequal pay.”
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The St. Louis District Office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and a portion of southern Illinois.
HBI was established in 1997 by owner/president Gene E Hobson and then incorporated in 1999.
HBI has a 14,500-square-foot warehouse  in Diamond on Highway FF. It’s a multimillion-dollar wholesale company supplying ball bearings worldwide.
The company didn’t respond to a request for comment.