Posts Tagged ‘race discrimination’

$5.5M Settlement Rocks Miss. Nightclub in Racial Bias Suit Filed by EEOC on Black Dancers’ Behalf

It’s costing this Mississippi “cabaret” a bundle to put behind it a lawsuit alleging bias against black dancers.

A Mississippi federal court jury May 16 returned a verdict in favor of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and five black dancers who were subjected to egregious race discrimination while employed by Danny’s of Jackson, LLC (Danny’s), doing business as Danny’s Downtown Cabaret, a Jackson, Mississippi night club. The verdicts included $1.5 million in punitive damages $1.68 million in compensatory damages, and $130,550 in backpay.

According to the EEOC, Danny’s, and its predecessor, Baby O’s Restaurant, subjected black dancers to discriminatory terms and conditions of employment for years, including limiting the number of shifts black dancers could work, and subjecting them to racially offensive epithets. Danny’s also forced the dancers to work at a related club, Black Diamonds, even though they were subject to arrest there because they were not licensed to work at that club. The pay and working conditions at Black Diamonds were inferior to those at Danny’s, and there was less security there. The dancers who refused to work at Black Diamonds were fined and sent home, and not allowed to work at Danny’s.

Despite at least eight years of efforts by the EEOC, which included two EEOC charges, three prior lawsuits and contempt proceedings and three consent decrees Danny’s continued to discriminate against the dancers.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race. The EEOC’s filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi in Jackson (EEOC v. Danny’s Restaurant, LLC and Danny’s of Jackson, LLC f/k/a Baby O’s Restaurant, Inc. d/b/a  Danny’s Downtown Cabaret, Civil Action No. 3:16-cv-00769-HTW-LRA).

Marsha Rucker, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Birmingham, said, “This case shows the EEOC will sue any employer, operating any type of business, who violates federal anti-discrimination laws, especially those who will not stop discriminating even after being given repeated chances to do so. The EEOC will protect employees in any industry who are subjected to such blatant and repeated discrimination. The jury yesterday sent a powerful message to Danny’s and any employer who thinks they are above the law.”

Bradley A. Anderson, district director said, ” The long road over 8+ years and multiple cases against Danny’s to get to the justice delivered yesterday is why we all work at the EEOC. We are extremely proud of this result on behalf of the public we serve and the class members who faced heinous discrimination in this case.”

$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.

Valentines for Black Firefighters: $4.9M Settlement Against Fla. City in Promotions Case

Valentine’s Day this year proved sweet for a class of African-American firefighters in Jacksonville, Florida as their 7-year tussle with the city fire department over promotions came to an end.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced February 14 that it has resolved its race discrimination lawsuit against the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters, Local 122, IAFF. The EEOC’s lawsuit against the union was a companion case to the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against the City of Jacksonville (Case No.3-12-cv-451-J-32MCR), which alleged that the city’s promotional practices for various positions in the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD) violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s prohibition against race discrimination.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, filed April 30, 2012 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida (EEOC v. Jacksonville Association of Firefighters, Local 122, IAFF, 3:12-cv-491-J-32MCR), the union advocated for an unlawful promotional process that had a disparate impact on African-American promotional candi­dates. The EEOC said the union continued doing so after receiving an EEOC Commissioner’s discrimination charge against the union in February 2008, and after the city’s Human Rights Commission issued a report on Aug. 8, 2006 recommending changes to the JFRD promotional process.

The consent decree entered by the court resolves the claims of the DOJ and EEOC, as well as claims brought against the city and/or union by private plaintiffs the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Jacksonville Branch, and the Jacksonville Brotherhood of Firefighters. Through the decree approved by the court on Feb. 5, 2019, the city agreed that it would develop a new promotional examination for the selection of certain positions in the Fire and Rescue Department. In addition, the city will offer up to 40 settlement promotion positions for qualified African-Americans and will establish a $4.9 million settlement fund for eligible promotion candidates.

“We are pleased that the union has agreed with the city’s decision to make changes to the pro­motional process and provide relief to eligible African-American promotion candidates,” said EEOC District Director Michael Farrell. “The EEOC will continue to identify and fight promotional processes that operate as systemic barriers to employment based on legally protected characteristics.”

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.

$25K Settlement Closes EEOC Lawsuit Against Employer That Retaliated Against Black Worker

As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday holiday today, it is well to remember that racial justice is often achieved case-by-case, workplace-by-workplace.

Here’s another example of that principle at work.

Floyd’s Equipment Inc., a Sikeston, Mo. contractor, has agreed to pay $25,000 and furnish other relief to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Oct. 16.

The EEOC filed suit against the company in September 2017, charging that Floyd’s had violated federal law by discriminating against an employee because of his race. According to the EEOC’s suit, a foreman at Floyd’s Equipment repeatedly used the slur “n—-r.” After an African-American employee, Rodney Woodall, complained, the foreman angrily confronted him. Rather than disciplining the harasser, the company transferred Woodall from his assignment as a backhoe operator to a less desirable job doing pick-and-shovel work in another state, according to the suit. Ultimately, Floyd’s fired Woodall.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin, as well as forbids retaliation against applicants or employees who complain about such discrimination. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in St. Louis (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Floyd’s Equipment, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-00175-SNLJ), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $25,000 in monetary relief, the three-year consent decree signed by Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr. enjoins Floyd’s from violating Title VII in the future. Floyd’s also agreed to draft and implement written company anti-discrimination policies, provide annual anti-discrimination training to supervisory or management-level employees, and have crew leaders conduct quarterly jobsite “toolbox talks” with employees regarding the company’s antidiscrimination policies and the process for reporting discrimination to Floyd’s and the EEOC. The company will also report to the EEOC on how it handles any complaints of discrimination and post a notice regarding the settlement.

“This fair and amicable resolution both compensates Mr. Woodall for his losses and will help protect others from discrimination and retaliation in the future.” said James R. Neely, Jr., director of the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office.

Andrea G. Baran, the EEOC’s regional attorney in St. Louis, added, “Employers need to ensure that they have policies and practices consistent with federal laws to not only protect employees from discrimination, but also protect them against retaliation when they complain.”

Furniture Retailer Revises Criminal Background Check Policies in Settlement With the EEOC

Civil rights enforces frown on policies that automatically bar anyone with a criminal conviction from getting a job.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Rooms To Go, a larger furniture retailer, have reached a voluntary conciliation agreement to resolve allegations of race discrimination raised by an unsuccessful black applicant whose offer of employment was rescinded as a result of Rooms To Go’s background check policies, the federal agency announced Sept. 24. The agreement reflects the company’s implementation of revised policies and practices to ensure that its pre-employment screenings comply with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (Title VII).

The cooperative agreement acknowledges Rooms To Go’s proactive changes to its hiring and screening policies. Rooms To Go’s revised policies and practices remove any blanket exclusions for criminal conviction from its screening policies, affording all applicants an opportunity for an individualized assessment. The agreement also reformed Rooms To Go’s employment application by removing criminal conviction questions and postponing inquiries about criminal history until later in the hiring process. These changes will ensure that applicants will be judged by their qualifications first, rather than screened based on criminal history questions on the application. Delaying any consideration of criminal history until after a conditional offer of employment gives applicants a fair chance at employment and an opportunity to explain their criminal history.

In addition, Rooms To Go will provide training on its revised criminal background procedures to the appropriate personnel. All human resource staff, along with other essential employees, will be required to take mandatory implicit bias training and annual refresher training. “We obtained financial relief for the victim of discrimination and eradicated a barrier for future applicants,” said EEOC Tampa Field Office Director Evangeline Hawthorne. “We are pleased that Rooms To Go chose to work with the EEOC to reach this conciliation agreement and that through our joint efforts we have been able to bring about real change at Rooms To Go.”

$165K Settlement Concludes EEOC’s Race Bias Lawsuit Against Wash. Sporting Goods Retailer

This sporting goods retailer concluded it wasn’t worth it to further fight race bias and retaliation claims.

Sporting goods retailer Big 5 Corporation will pay $165,000 and provide other relief to settle a racial discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Sept. 18.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Big 5’s store manager and assistant managers in Oak Harbor, a town on Whidbey Island, Wash., subjected management trainee Robert Sanders to ongoing racial harassment and death threats. Sanders was the only African-American employee at the Whidbey Island location. Sanders was called “spook,” “boy,” and “King Kong” and was told that he had the “face of a janitor.” The litany of unremedied racial comments escalated when an assistant manager allegedly said, “We will hang you. We will seriously lynch you if you call in again this week.”

The EEOC said that another assistant manager asked Sanders if he was “ready to commit suicide,” offering “assistance” when he was ready to do so. Sanders was forced to go on several leaves due to stress from the ongoing racial harassment, threats, and retaliatory work assignments and discipline, according to the agency. Big 5 ultimately terminated Sanders.

Racial harassment and retaliation violate Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (EEOC v. Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp., Civil Number 2:17-CV-01098) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. Sanders was also represented by private attorneys Scott G. Thomas and Terry Venneberg.

The three-year consent decree settling the lawsuit provides $165,000 to Sanders in lost wages and compensatory damages. The decree also requires Big 5 to train its employees, supervisors, managers and investigators on preventing and reporting workplace racial harassment and retaliation under Title VII. Big 5 will also ensure that its anti-harassment workplace policies prohibit harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

EEOC attorney Carmen Flores said, “Title VII protects all employees so that they can work in a setting free from racial slurs and retaliation. Employers must be vigilant, listen to workers who reach out for help, and take appropriate action.”

Nancy Sienko, director of the EEOC’s Seattle Field Office, commented, “This settlement should send a clear signal to all employers. The consent decree requires corrective measures to help guarantee that next time, Big 5 will move quickly to stop threatening and illegal behavior.”

According to company information, Big 5 Sporting Goods (www.big5sportinggoods.com) is a retailer headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., and operates 435 stores and employs 9,000 people in eleven western states.

Koch Foods Forks Over $3.75M for Hispanic Workers Discriminated Against at Southern Plant

Working conditions for workers this chicken processing plant should be on the upswing thanks to the federal government’s intervention.

Koch Foods, one of the largest poultry suppliers in the world, will pay $3,750,000 and furnish other relief to settle a class employment discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Aug. 1.  The EEOC charged the company with sexual harassment, national origin and race discrimination as well as retaliation against a class of Hispanic workers at Koch’s Morton, Miss., chicken processing plant.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Koch subjected individual plaintiff/intervenors and classes of Hispanic employees and female employees to a hostile work environment and disparate treatment based on their race/national origin (Hispanic), sex (female), and further retaliated against those who engaged in protected activity.1 EEOC alleges that supervisors touched and/or made sexually suggestive comments to female Hispanic employees, hit Hispanic employees and charged many of them money for normal everyday work activities. Further, a class of Hispanic employees was subject to retaliation in the form of discharge and other adverse actions after complaining.

All this alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed its suit (EEOC v. Koch Foods of Miss., LLC, Civ. No.11-00391 DPJ/FKB (S.D. Miss.)) on June 29, 2011 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC’s case was later consolidated with the lawsuit previously filed by plaintiff/intervenors, Maria Cazorla, et. al. v. Koch Foods of Mississippi, LLC and Jessie Ickom, Civ. No. 10-00135-DPJ-FKB. The plaintiff-intervenors were represented by Southern Migrant Legal Services, a special project of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, in Nashville, Tenn., and Robert McDuff, of the Law Office of Robert McDuff in Jackson, Miss.

The three-year consent decree entered today by Judge Daniel P. Jordan III provides for $3,750,000 in monetary relief for the victims. In addition, Koch Foods will take specified actions designed to prevent future discrimination, including implementing new policies and practices designed to prevent discrimination based on race, sex or national origin; providing anti-discrimination training to employees; creating a 24-hour hotline for reporting discrimination complaints in English and Spanish; and posting policies and anti-discrimination notices in its workplace in English and Spanish.

“We commend Koch Foods for its commitment to settle this case, which contained serious allegations of harassment,” said EEOC Birmingham Regional Attorney Marsha Rucker. “The significant monetary award, the corrective measures in this decree, including EEOC monitoring, should prevent this kind of alleged misconduct in the future.”

Bradley Anderson, the EEOC’s district director for the Birmingham District Office, added, “We take allegations of abuse seriously. No one working in America deserves to be harassed in the workplace, and, as evidenced in this lawsuit, the EEOC will engage in vigorous law enforcement efforts to protect workers.”

Koch Foods is an international poultry processor that deals in fresh and frozen foods. Its corporate headquarters is in Park Ridge, Ill., and it has locations in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. Koch Foods employs approximately 14,000 people.