The EEOC has just announced that “In the past two months, the EEOC has had several cases involving severe racial harassment, including a $2.7 million settlement against an environmental clean-up company, and a harassment case in which a white employee was the victim.” It has also just announced (1) the settlement of a long running racial harassment case, and (2) the filing of a new racial harassment case.
EEOC’s Racial Harassment Case
First the settlement. Our blog of September 27, 2012 discussed the EEOC’s crackdown on racial harassment and highlighted the use in virtually all of these cases of the same racially derogatory words, racist tropes and displays: the “N-word,” and the displaying of a noose.
We spotlighted a then-recent federal jury punitive damages award of $200,000 to three former employees of AA Foundries, who claimed that a top company official “used the “N” word” and a superintendent called adult African-American male employees “mother-f—g boys.” After several employees filed such EEOC charges, a noose was put up in the workplace, and responding to complaints of this new outrage, the superintendent described them as “B.S.” and said that the noose “was no big deal” and “you people are too sensitive.”
Permanent Injunction Ordered
We commented on October 12, 2012 that the judge found that this award was insufficient, and that the EEOC announced that the judge granted the EEOC’s post-trial request for a permanent injunction stating that he is “convinced” that it “is necessary in this case.” The judge therefore:
— permanently enjoined AA Foundries from engaging in any employment practice which facilitates, condones, or encourages a hostile work environment based on race, or from engaging in any other employment practice which discriminates on the basis of race;
– ordered that AA Foundries must develop a policy and procedures for handling reports of racial harassment, develop an effective investigation process for all complaints of racial harassment, and distribute a written policy and provide equal employment opportunity training to all employees, including managerial employees; and
– directed that the EEOC monitor compliance with the order.
EEOC Cautions Employers
An EEOC attorney advised employers at the time (and she could have lifted her comments from any number of our blogs): “Today, the court has affirmed the importance for all employers to have effective policies and procedures in place to prevent discrimination in the workplace. A strong policy, meaningful training and a swift response to complaints are a company’s most effective tools for addressing an existing hostile work environment or to prevent one from arising.”
Well, after pursuing an appeal, AA Foundries just settled with the EEOC. The EEOC General Counsel said that “I am pleased the resolution incorporated the full judgment. The jury, speaking as the conscience of the community, had sent a powerful message that racial discrimination is unacceptable. It is unfortunate that nearly 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this type of unlawful harassment persists, and the EEOC will continue to work to eliminate it once and for all.”
Newly-Filed EEOC Racial Harassment Case
As if to underscore that “this type of unlawful harassment persists,” the EEOC made a second announcement that it has just sued a Michigan automobile dealer for allegedly racially harassing an African-American detailer “by subjecting him to racial slurs, including the “N-word,” despite the fact he complained about the use of slurs by a co-worker who became his supervisor.”
Again the ubiquitous “N-word.” Yes, “this type of unlawful harassment persists.”