$322K Settlement Ends Harassment Nightmare for African American Workers at Fla. Workplace

This workplace was inhospitable to say the least for African-American employees–and now the employer is paying up.

Fanatics Retail Group Fulfillment, LLC, a Jacksonville-based online retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise, including NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and NASCAR merchandise, has agreed to pay $322,050 and furnish other relief to settle a race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced yesterday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Fanatics’ Jacksonville workplace was racially divided, and the company subjected employees to racial slurs and comments such as “We don’t need any outbreak monkeys here.”  Human resources officials tasked with overseeing discrimination policies called African-American employees “baboons.” When an employee complained about the treatment, Fanatics failed to promote him as promised, and continued to tolerate a racially hostile work environment.

Such alleged conduct violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race and retaliation for against an employee for their opposition to discrimination.

The EEOC filed its suit (Civil Action No. 3:18-cv-900-J-32PDB) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $322,050 monetary award, the consent decree provides injunctive relief to help secure a workplace free from unlawful racial harassment and retaliation in the future. This will include revision and redistribution of the company’s discrimination policy; training for human resources officials, managers, supervisors and non-management employees; posting of notice of the result of the underlying lawsuit and employee rights; creation of a hotline number to receive anonymous complaints of discrimination; and reporting to the EEOC about compliance and with details about future complaints of discrimination.

“This lawsuit revealed a racially hostile work environment no employee should have to endure,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert E. Weisberg. “This settlement seeks to correct those wrongs, prevent their reoccurrence and put employers on notice that failing to address discrimination has consequences.”

EEOC District Director Michael Farrell said, “When employers fail to put a stop to pervasive discrimination, the EEOC will do what is necessary to seek justice for victims of discrimination and to work with employers to implement policies and training to ensure such discrimination is eradicated from the workplace.”

The EEOC’s Miami District Office is comprised of the Miami, Tampa and San Juan EEOC offices, and has jurisdiction over Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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