Posts Tagged ‘racial harassment’

Wastewater Company 0ut $150K in Settlement of “Textbook” Case of Mishandled Harassment

Here’s how not to handle a case of harassment on the job.

Aqua Resources Inc., a Delaware-based water and wastewater service company, will pay $150,000 and provide significant equitable relief to settle a federal racial harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Feb. 1.

The EEOC said that a white superintendent and white foremen at Aqua Resources’ Bear, Del., facility repeatedly made derogatory and offensive comments to and about an African-American foreman and black employees, including calling them racial epithets such as “n—-r,” “monkey,” and “boy.”

The African-American foreman complained to company management officials about the racially hostile work environment. Aqua Resources not only failed to stop the harassment, it instead promoted one of the harassers and even assigned him to supervise the African-American foreman, according to the suit. The company fired the black foreman in retaliation for complaining about the racially hostile work environment, the EEOC charged.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to harass employees on the basis of race or to retaliate against employees who complain about discrimination. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Aqua Resources, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:17-cv-04346) 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 $150,000 in monetary relief to the African-American foreman and class members, the two-year consent decree resolving the suit enjoins Aqua Resources from engaging in discrimination based on race or unlawful retaliation in the future. The company will provide training on federal anti-discrimination laws, including preventing harassment. Aqua Resources will implement and disseminate to all employees a revised anti-harassment policy, and will also post a notice regarding the settlement. The company will also provide the black foreman with a neutral reference letter.

“This is almost a textbook case on how not to handle a harassment complaint,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Office Director Jamie R. Williamson. “Employers must take prompt action to stop harassment — not reward a wrongdoer by promoting him and punish the victim by firing him.”


Rental Store in Hot Seat Over Alleged Hostile Work Environment Against Black Employees

We’d like to believe this kind of workplace doesn’t exist anymore in this country, but if believed the allegations of what transpired at a Queens, NY rental store tell a different story.

Aarons, Inc., a nationwide chain of rent-to-own stores, violated federal law when supervisors engaged in race-based harassment of black employees, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit it filed Dec. 13.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, Aarons subjected black employees to a race-based hostile work environment at its Jamaica, Queens warehouse. The mistreatment included the regular and open use of slurs such as “n—-r” and “monkey” by managers at the warehouse. African-American workers were also assigned more difficult tasks and generally treated worse than others at the warehouse.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, which includes subjecting employees to a racially hostile work environment. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (EEOC v. Aaron’s, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-07273) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency’s litigation effort will be led by Trial Attorneys Sebastian Riccardi and Katie Linehan, supervised by Supervisory Trial Attorney Justin Mulaire.

“Employees have a right to work in an environment free of racial harassment.” said EEOC New York Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein. “Racial harassment is against the law, and employers must know that this type of conduct cannot be tolerated.” EEOC New York District Director Kevin Berry added, “The law is clear: Employers have a responsibility to ensure that their workplaces are free from racial harassment and cannot ignore racist behavior by their managers.”

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

Harassment Settlement Costs Employer $125K

Subjecting employees who are in a protected class to a hostile work environment comes at a cost.

A Hugo, Minn., construction company will pay $125,000 to settle a racial harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal announced on Sept. 7. The EEOC’s lawsuit charged that JL Schwieters Construction, Inc. violated federal law when it subjected two black employees to a hostile work environment, including physical threats, based on their race.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Willie Staple and Dion Pye worked for JL Schwieters Construction, Inc. from September 2012 to December 2013 as carpenters. Staple and Pye were both subjected to racial harassment during their employment by a white supervisor, which included racially derogatory comments including calling them “n—-r.” The supervisor also made a noose out of electrical wire and threatened to hang Staple and Pye, the EEOC charged.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from discrimination and harassment based on race. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. JL Schwieters Construction, Inc.; Civil Action No. 16-cv-03823 WMW/FLN) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright signed the Order entering the Consent Decree on September 6, 2017. The decree provides $125,000 in monetary relief to Staple and Pye. It also requires Schwieters to revise its policies in its employee handbook to outline a complaint procedure for complaining of racial harassment. The decree also requires the company to train its management personnel on Title VII including its prohibitions against race discrimination and racial harassment.

Further, the decree requires Schwieters to train its non-management employees on their rights under Title VII, including their right to file discrimination charges with the EEOC. Finally, the company must report complaints of race discrimination and racial harassment to the EEOC during the decree’s two-year term.

“Employees have a right to work in an environment free of racial harassment, particularly the kind of severe and outrageous abuse the EEOC uncovered in its investigation of this case,” said Julianne Bowman, district director of the EEOC’s Chicago District.

Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District, said, “Nooses and threats are absolutely unacceptable in 21st-century America. When such terrible treatment is meted out to workers simply because of their race, the EEOC will fulfill its mandate and take action to stop it.”

EEOC: Bread Manufacturer Allowed Harassment of Black Employee, Will Pay $30K to Settle Suit

It is costing a bread manufacturer $30,000 for allegedly failing to stop racial harassment against an African American employee. The employee was racially taunted by his co-workers, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Gonnella 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.

The EEOC announced the settlement on Jan. 10.

Employer Didn’t Act to Stop Ongoing Harassment of Black Employee, EEOC Charges in Title VII Suit

As 2016 leave us, persistent problems in the workplace don’t.

One of these is racial harassment.

The following is a case of harassment that went on for two years until the victim, fed up with management’s lack of response, up and quit.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a black employee, Paul Bowman, was subjected almost daily to a racially hostile work environment at Hiatt & Mason Enterprises, Inc., a structural steel erection services company in Mount Airy, North Carolina.

Starting in March 2014,the EEOC alleges,  Bowman’s white foreman and some of his co-workers subjected him to racial harassment for almost two years. The alleged misconduct included daily or almost daily use of the “N-word” and other racial epithets, as well as racial jokes about blacks. On more than one occasion, Bowman was threatened physically by one of the co-workers who engaged in racist name calling.

The complaint further charged that the company’s equal employment opportunity officer witnessed at least one of the incidents of harassment and received complaints about some of the abuse, but took no action to stop it. Bowman left the company around March 2016.”Employers must take appropriate action to stop employees’ use of racial slurs in the workplace,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC’s Charlotte District Office.

Read more about the EEOC’s lawsuit filed on Dec. 21 here.

Employer Pays $30K to Settle Retaliation Claim

Firing an employee shortly after he or she complaints about discrimination is a risky business.

Just ask Morse Moving & Storage, a company based in Romulus, Michigan.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  announced on Friday that the residential and corporate moving provider will pay $30,000 to settle a retaliation claim filed on behalf of Latasha Black.

Eliminating policies and practices that discourage or prohibit individuals from exercising their rights under employment discrimination statutes, or that impede the EEOC’s investigative or enforcement efforts, is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

$4 Million Pay Out Brings to Close Racial Harassment Suit Against Sara Lee Successor

As 2015 draws to a close, a shocking tale of alleged race discrimination at a Sara Lee plant in Paris, Texas is a reminder that we’ve a long way to go to improve race relations in the workplace.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced on Tuesday that Hillshire Brands Company, former known as the Sara Lee Corporation, agreed to pay $4 million to 74 African American former employees who endured a hostile work environment at the Paris, Texas plant.

According to the EEOC, these employees were subjected to racial graffiti on bathroom and locker room walls.

During work hours, the employees also were berated with racial slurs by managers and white co-workers, all the while management ignored the employees’ complaints about the harassment.

The misconduct continued at the facility until it closed in 2011, the EEOC charged.

Read more about the settlement.