On February 4, 2013 we published a post noting that juries do not like nooses or the N-word in the workplace. Our post commented on a North Carolina federal jury which had just awarded $200,000 in compensatory and punitive damages against a trucking company on behalf of two former African-American truck drivers who were repeatedly subjected to such racist harassment.
Many readers wrote to us that they were shocked and appalled at the racism which the trial exposed. One plaintiff was repeatedly subjected to slurs by his supervisor and other employees such as "n----r," "monkey" and "boy," was asked by a white co-worker if he wanted to be the "coon" in their "coon hunt," and had a co-worker come to him with a noose saying "This is for you. Do you want to hang from the family tree?" The second driver claimed that the company's general manager told him, when he was the only African-American employee, that he was the company's "token black," told him “Don't find a noose with your name on it," and spoke to him of having some of his "friends" visit the driver in the middle of the night.
The EEOC now reports that in the same case the court further granted a three-year injunction against the employer, which enjoins it from discriminating against any person on the basis of race or in retaliation for opposing practices unlawful under Title VII; and further requires it to:
1. implement a written anti-discrimination policy;
2. conduct training on Title VII to all employees and to all owners involved in the company's operations;
3. post the anti-discrimination policy and a notice to employees regarding the lawsuit; and
4. provide the EEOC with periodic reports regarding complaints about racial harassment.
An EEOC attorney declared that "We are glad that the court saw fit to enter an injunction in this case. Among other things, the injunction mandates training for Widenhouse employees and owners involved in the company's operations. Education is the first step toward preventing racial harassment."
We commented earlier that some employers, besides tolerating discrimination and harassment, seem to want to wave a large red flag in front of the EEOC. What happens then? It pays through through the nose, has a federal court injunction governing its workplace for three years, and has to report to an overseeing EEOC for three years. Oh, and yes, it suffers in the market from an appalled public which can hardly believe what happened.
See our earlier blogs:
On October 2, 2012, we quoted an EEOC attorney as stating: "Racial harassment too often continues to occur in today's workplaces while employers intentionally look the other way. A case where the victim received death threats at his home, as we found here, is especially abhorrent and unacceptable. The EEOC will continue to fight against this illegal and uncivilized misconduct."
And on December 3, 2012 we asked, apropos another case: "Will employers eventually learn that these [acts and slurs] are offensive and discriminatory, and will lead to EEOC crackdowns and monetary awards?" We can now add to this list of sanctions jury awards of substantial punitive damages. There are enough meritless discrimination claims brought these days that bedevil employers -- racism such as exhibited in this case cannot be tolerated.