NEW YORK — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn Federal Court Thursday, charging a Brooklyn sweater manufacturer with sex discrimination.
The lawsuit alleges that the company, Best Clothing Manufacturing Inc., which is also known as New Era Knitting Mills Inc., maintains a restrictive dress code that applies only to women and wrongly fired one employee, Yolanda Simon, for not obeying the dress code.
The dress code requires female workers to wear long-sleeve shirts with coverage to the neck, while male employees are allowed to wear tank tops and other sleeveless shirts, the lawsuit claims.
Robert D. Rose, a trial attorney with the EEOC, said in peak season the factory, located at 204 Wallabout Street between the Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant sections of Brooklyn, employs about 300 workers. He said a memo with the dress code was handed out to the firm’s 80 sewing-machine operators in June 2001, though the handful of male sewers weren’t given the memo.
Simon, who had worked for the factory for 13 years, was allegedly fired for wearing a short-sleeved shirt on June 22, 2001 and brought her complaint to the EEOC the next month, he added.
“We tried to resolve the matter without litigation, but were unsuccessful, and that led us to file suit,” he said.
Officials at Best Clothing could not be reached for comment.
The lawsuit asks the court to issue an injunction against the discriminatory dress code, to order the company to carry out policies to prevent discrimination, to give Simon her job back and compensate for lost wages and to pay punitive damages to Simon and other female employees.