$30K Payment Settles Race Harassment Suit

In his farewell address tonight, President Obama spoke of the illusion that his election had ushered in a post-racial period.

If further proof were needed that he is right comes an announcement by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that a company in Chicago has agreed to pay $30,000 to settle a racial harassment lawsuit.

According to the EEOC, Gonnella Baking Co. violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by failing to respond adequately to a black employee’s , complaints that he endured a pervasive pattern of disparaging racial comments made by his co-workers. Examples of the harassing conduct included persistent references to black employees as “you people,” as well as offensive statements such as, “Black people are lazy,” and “I better watch my wallet around you.”

“Employers are responsible for putting an end to co-worker harassment when they become aware of it,” explained Gregory Gochanour, EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago. “That includes the responsibility to take seriously every allegation of race harassment, and then to investigate thoroughly and take appropriate actions to eliminate the misconduct.”

“Racial harassment is not limited to explicit racial slurs, and can include any offensive conduct directed toward an employee because of his race,” added EEOC’s Chicago District director, Julianne Bowman, added. “Requiring an employee to endure persistent references to offensive racial stereotypes or jokes in the workplace is a violation of the law.”


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