Posts Tagged ‘hostile work environment’

EEOC Says Construction Site “Rife” With Hostility Toward African American Employees

Mistreatment of African Americans isn’t limited to the streets.

CCC Group, Inc., violated federal law when it fostered a work environment rife with racist comments and discriminatory work conditions, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed.

The San Antonio, Texas-based construction company operated a construction site in Ravena, N.Y., in 2016. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, white supervisors and employees regularly made unwelcome racist comments, used racial slurs, threatened black employees with nooses, and subjected African American employees to harsher working conditions than white co-workers.

The EEOC charges that white employees frequently referred to black employees with insulting racial epithets. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, some of this harassment occurred on a company radio channel for all to hear. White employees bragged that their ancestors had owned slaves and told a black employee he walked funny because slaves used to walk with a bag on their shoulder picking cotton.

Further, one white supervisor attempted to snare an employee with a noose, the EEOC said. Another Caucasian supervisor told an African American employee that for Halloween, “You don’t even have to dress up. I will dress in white and put a noose around your neck and we’ll walk down the street together.”

The EEOC further charges that African American employees were given more physically taxing and dangerous work than Caucasian counterparts, including being assigned outdoor work in winter while white colleagues worked inside. Black employees objected to and complained about the racial harassment, but it persisted, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of race. Race harassment is a form of race discrimination that is prohibited by the statute.

The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the agency’s conciliation process. The EEOC seeks compensatory damages and punitive damages for the affected employees, and injunctive relief to remedy and prevent future workplace racial harassment.

“Employers need to proactively prevent any behavior that creates a racially hostile workplace,” said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office. “Here there were numerous examples of abho­rrent racial discrimination and harassment. The use of a noose is especially vicious. Such misconduct violates federal law and common decency.”

Judy Keenan, acting director of the New York District Office, added, “Racial harassment is never acceptable. This harassment was especially vicious, widespread and continuous, and the employer failed to do anything to stop it.”

The EEOC’s New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, northern New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont. The agency’s Buffalo Local Office conducted the investigation resulting in this lawsuit.

Pa. Company Pays $85K to Extricate From EEOC Lawsuit Alleging Harassment and Retaliation

Employers often compound their initial discriminatory behavior by firing the complainers.

Service Caster Corporation, one of the largest caster and wheel companies in North America, will pay $85,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a federal national origin and religious harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Friday.

The EEOC charged that West Reading, Pa.-based Service Caster subjected two assemblers and one assembly line supervisor to a hostile work environment because of their national origin, Puerto Rican, and religion, Pentecostal. Service Caster retaliated against the employees for their opposition to the harassment, including by ultimately firing them, the EEOC said.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits harassment based on national origin or religion. Title VII also prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee because he or she opposed or complained about harassment. The EEOC filed suit(EEOC v. Service Caster Corporation, Civil Action No. 5:19-cv-04525-JLS) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $85,000 in monetary relief to the three workers, the 30-month consent decree settling the suit enjoins Service Caster from engaging in national origin or religious discrimination and retaliation in the future. The company must designate an EEO (equal employment opportunity) officer to monitor compliance with the decree and provide training on Title VII. The company must implement and disseminate to all emp­loyees, both in English and in Spanish, a detailed policy against discrimination, harassment and retaliation and let employees know they may contact the EEOC directly with any such complaints. Service Caster must provide interpreters and translators to employees who make internal complaints and must report to the EEOC on how it handles the complaints.

“We are pleased that Service Caster worked with us to resolve this lawsuit expeditiously and amicably,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence. “In addition to the monetary relief, this settlement is designed to protect all employees from discrimination or harassment based on national origin or religion as well as pre­vent unlawful retaliation.”

EEOC Philadelphia District Director Jamie R. Williamson added, “Employers have a duty to prevent unlawful harassment and retaliation. The companywide training, revised anti-discrimination policies and reporting provisions required by this settlement can serve as a model to other employers on proactive pre­vention.”

The EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.

Arkansas Chinese Eatery Forks Over $300K in Settlement of EEOC Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Young women worked at this Chinese restaurant at their peril.

Pei Wei Asian Diner, LLC, doing business as Pei Wei Fresh Kitchen in Little Rock, will pay $300,000 to former employees as part of a settlement of a sexual harassment and constructive discharge lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced yesterday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the company failed to take action in response to severe and pervasive sexual harassment by the restaurant’s general manager after teens and other young female employees complained about the abuse.

Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Western Division (now referred to as the Eastern District of Arkansas, Central Division), Civil Action No. 4:19-cv-718,­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Under the three-year consent decree settling the suit, in addition to the monetary payment, Pei Wei will revise its written policy prohibiting sexual harassment. The company must revise its procedures to ensure that all complaints receive prompt attention by upper management and are thoroughly investigated. Pei Wei must disseminate a copy of its policies and procedures to all employees and will conduct training at its Little Rock location.

“Young women are especially vulnerable to sexual harassment by an older manager,” said Faye A. Williams, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee, and portions of Mississippi. “Title VII ensures that employees can work in an environment free of sexual harassment. The EEOC continues to take sexual harassment complaints very seriously.”

Pamela Dixon, lead attorney on the case, added, “The EEOC appreciates the fact that Pei Wei moved quickly to resolve this matter without protracted litigation and agreed to put measures in place to ensure similar conduct would not be repeated.”

Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director of the Memphis District Office, encouraged employers to “regularly monitor their workplaces to ensure that employees are not subjected to sexual harassment and that all employees are aware of the avenues by which to complain.”

The original complainant in this lawsuit was also represented by Chad Green of Green & Gillespie in North Little Rock.

$35K Payment Concludes Harassment, Retaliation Lawsuit Against Plastics Maker

Hopefully, this Texas company–and employers elsewhere–get the message that they can’t turn a blind eye to sexual harassment and retaliation.

Element Plastics Mfg., LLC, a plastics manufacturer based in Sugar Land, Texas, has settled a sex harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Tuesday.

In its lawsuit, the EEOC alleged that Element Plastics violated federal law by subjecting a female employee to a hostile work environment and then firing her in retaliation for complaining about the sexual harassment.

Specifically, the EEOC’s lawsuit (Civil Action No. 4:19-cv-02218) charged that the employee was subjected to sexually harassing comments, unwelcome touching, and other improper and sexually hostile conduct. The EEOC further charged that a few weeks after she complained about the harassment to her direct supervisor and a manager, she was terminated in retaliation for making the complaint.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed its suit (Civil Action No. 4:19-cv-02218) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“Sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace cannot and will not be tolerated,” said Rudy Sustaita, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Houston. “The EEOC will continue to enforce federal law against such discriminatory and illegal misconduct.”

Connie Gatlin, the EEOC’s senior trial attorney in charge of the case, added, “We appreciate that Element Plastics was willing to come to the table to resolve this matter.”

The terms of the agreement were set forth in a consent decree signed and entered by U.S. District Judge David Hittner on Jan. 25. The settlement requires the company to pay $35,000 to compensate the discrimination victim and prohibits Element Plastics from engaging in similar discriminatory conduct in the future. In addition, the company must develop and implement policies and procedures to address illegal discrimination, harassment and retaliation, includ­ing com­plaint procedures and guidelines for investigating complaints of discrimination.

The EEOC’s Houston District Office is located on the sixth floor of the Leland Federal Building at 1919 Smith St. in Houston.

EEOC Coaxes $350K Settlement From Calif. Company That Shunned Certain Ethnic Groups

Thankfully, sales reps at the West Coast energy company won’t be pressured anymore to avoid entire an entire ethnic customer base.

San Leandro-based solar and home energy company Fidelity Home Energy, Inc., and its successor NorCal Home Systems, Inc., will pay $350,000 to a former employee and hire a consultant to resolve a national origin discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced yesterday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, within her first week as a telemarketing supervisor, the former employee learned that all potential customers perceived to be Middle Eastern or Indian were to be rejected for sales appointments for home energy systems. EEOC charged that the former employee, who is of Afghan descent, observed supervisors flagging these individuals’ records in an internal database and placing them on the “do not call” list. The employee was forced to turn away any such potential customers almost daily and to direct her subordinates to do the same.

Ultimately, as EEOC charged, the distress of having to discriminate against would-be customers, particularly those of her own national origin, compelled the employee to quit after only a few weeks. In her resignation, she explained, “It makes me sick to know that we refuse to service a particular ethnicity of people. We literally go out of our way to single them out.”

The alleged conduct created a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating based on national origin. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California [Case No. 3:19-cv-01231] after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.  The lawsuit was litigated by EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Ami Sanghvi and Trial Attorney James H. Baker.

Under the three-year consent decree, Fidelity and NorCal will provide $350,000 in damages to the employee and hire an EEO consultant to help revise NorCal’s EEO policies and procedures, investigate employee complaints of discrimination, and ensure that managers, supervisors and employees are trained on their EEO rights and obligations. NorCal must also revise its databases to remove any ability to screen entries by race, ethnicity or national origin, and must post a notice to employees about the consent decree.

“Combatting all forms of workplace harassment remains a top priority of the EEOC’s 2017-2021 Strategic Enforcement Plan. This past year, over 7,000 charges alleging national origin-based harassment were filed with the agency,” said EEOC San Francisco District Director William Tamayo. “We commend NorCal for working to ensure that discriminatory practices do not continue.”

Trial Attorney James H. Baker stated, “The former employee was faced with an unacceptable choice: continue to reject customers based on national origin or quit her job.  He added, “Discriminatory conduct directed at third-parties, including co-workers or customers, can result in a hostile work environment claim for protected employees under Title VII.”

Fidelity Home Energy, Inc. was a family-owned and operated business providing homeowners with energy-efficient products and in-home installation services. Last year, Fidelity’s CEO dissolved Fidelity, and continued the services it provided as NorCal Home Systems, Inc

Restaurant Settles Harassment Suit For $175K

The kitchen manager at this restaurant was an equal opportunity harasser. It looks like he now been stopped by the law.

Carmel restaurants owned and operated by JCFB, Inc. agreed to pay $175,000 to settle a federal sexual harassment lawsuit filed on behalf of male and female kitchen staff, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced January 9.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a male line cook at Porta Bella Restaurant suffered repeated inappropriate grabbing of his private parts by the kitchen manager, cook and chef.  When he reported the conduct to Porta Bella’s owners, they dismissed the behavior and said, “They only play.”  Afterwards, the chef became confrontational, and yelled and hit the line cook, forcing him to quit. The EEOC alleged JCFB failed to adequately investigate or discipline the harassers.

The EEOC also sued on behalf of a female dishwasher employed at Mediterranean Restaurant who endured daily sexual comments and occasional unwanted physical touching by the same kitchen manager that harassed the Porta Bella line cook.  Although she informed another manager of the harassment, the sexual comments continued.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace.  The EEOC filed its lawsuit (EEOC v. JCFB, Inc., Case No. 5:19-CV-0052) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

The three-year consent decree orders JCFB to pay $175,000 to the two former employees and requires the company to provide anti-harassment training to all employees at both restaurants.  In addition, JCFB will hire an external consultant to monitor and investigate any future reports of a hostile work environment.

EEOC San Jose Local Office Director Rosa Salazar said, “We are pleased JCFB will institute effective HR practices for training, investigating and, where appropriate, disciplining its staff to curb harassment at its restaurants.”  She said combatting workplace harassment is a top priority of the EEOC’s 2017-2021 Strategic Enforcement Plan.

EEOC San Francisco Senior Trial Attorney Raymond Cheung said, “No matter whether the unwelcome conduct is verbal or physical and reported by a male or female employee, employers must take charges of harassment seriously. This case demonstrates the EEOC’s commitment to ensure vulnerable workers in the service industries are protected from a hostile work environment.”

JCFB, Inc. is a private company that operates restaurants in Carmel, California, including Porta Bella and Mediterranean Restaurant.

$125K Later, Calif. Country Club Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Involving Female Servers

This country club may have made its guests feel at home, but the female servers at its restaurant experienced conditions far less hospitable.

Fairbanks Ranch Country Club, Inc., one of two entities the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit against alleging the sexual harassment of and retaliation against female employees, will pay $125,000 and provide other relief to settle the lawsuit, the agency announced yesterday. Co-defendant Bay Club Fairbanks Ranch, LLC assumed full control of Fairbanks Ranch Country Club in 2015. The EEOC’s lawsuit against Bay Club Fairbanks Ranch, LLC continues.

According to the EEOC’s suit, the restaurant manager at the Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., country club sexually harassed a class of young female servers almost daily. The EEOC’s lawsuit alleges that the manager routinely abused his position by requiring female servers to acquiesce in his sexual advances for job benefits. Additionally, the agency charged that the behavior was so prevalent that other male employees felt free to engage in sexual harassment as well. Because of this hostile work environment, some female servers felt they had no choice but to resign.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, and retaliation for reporting a claim against such discrimination. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern Region of California (EEOC v. Bay Club Fairbanks Ranch, LLC, and Fairbanks Ranch Country Club, Inc., Case No. 3:18-cv-01853-W-AGS), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to monetary relief, the three-year consent decree includes injunctive relief aimed at preventing further workplace harassment and retaliation. Fairbanks Ranch Country Club, Inc. has agreed to retain an EEO monitor, review and revise its policies and procedures regarding discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, and create a reporting structure for employees to report discrimination and harassment, which will include establishing a complaint hotline number. Additionally, Fairbanks Ranch has agreed to provide training to all employees on federal anti-discrimination laws, with an emphasis on sexual harassment. Finally, Fairbanks Ranch is required to keep records necessary to demonstrate its compliance with the decree. The decree will remain under the court’s jurisdiction for the three-year term.

“We commend Fairbanks Ranch Country Club for resolving this matter and for establishing relief that will benefit its employees,” said Anna Park, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, which has jurisdiction over San Diego County.

Christopher Green, director of the EEOC’s San Diego Local Office, added, “Supervisors and managers have a particular responsibility to ensure that workplaces are free of harassment and discrimination. I am encouraged that one party in this suit has agreed to take necessary steps to ensure a discrimination- and harassment-free work environment for its employees.”

Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).