CHICAGO — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission here said last week that Ralphs Grocery Co., a subsidiary of the Kroger Co., Cincinnati, plans to clarify language in its employment contracts as part of an agreement to pay $70,000 to a former employee in the Midwest division of its Food 4 Less chain. The commission said the contract language was designed to discourage employees from filing discrimination charges. According to a ruling by a U.S. District Court judge here, Ralphs violated federal laws against employment discrimination by retaliating with its own lawsuit against Doris Martinez, an employee who filed a discrimination lawsuit against the company in 2003 based on disability and national origin. The EEOC said the settlement "represents an employer's recognition that a mandatory arbitration policy cannot be used to deter employees from filing charges of discrimination. It is critical that employees know that, even when their employer maintains a mandatory arbitration policy, they retain the right to file discrimination charges." Ralphs officials declined comment.
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