One Last 2016 N-Word Lawsuit: Will It Stop In 2017?  

More than 50 years after the Civil Rights Acts were passed, racism continues in the society at large, and in the workplace in particular.

I continue to post about every workplace racial harassment case that I see where the N-word or a noose is involved, hoping to impress upon employers the seriousness of this, and the necessity of taking action to prevent it: for everyone involved.

It doesn’t seem to sink in.

The EEOC just sued a North Carolina structural steel erection services company for a racially hostile work environment.  Guess the nature of the allegations?

It was alleged that as soon as the African American employee began working, his white foreman and some co-workers called him the “N-word” and other racial epithets on an almost daily basis, made racial jokes, and more than once physically threatened him.

Employers take note:  According to the complaint, “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.”  The EEOC officer?

The employee quit.

An EEOC attorney said that “Employers must take appropriate action to stop employees’ use of racial slurs in the workplace.  EEOC takes a company’s disregard for the federally protected rights of its employees very seriously and will prosecute cases where this kind of abuse occurs.”

Takeaway:  Let’s hope (and pray) that this kind of thing abates in the new year, and that the EEOC continues to take action against employers who permit it.

Have a happy New Year!


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Richard Cohen

Richard B. Cohen is a partner in the New York City office of FisherBroyles, LLP, a national law firm. Richard Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complex corporate, commercial and employment disputes for more than 35 years, and is a trusted advisor to business owners and in-house counsel both in the United States and internationally. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, domestic and foreign commercial and investment banks, Pacific-rim corporations and real estate development companies, as well as start-up businesses throughout the United States. Email Richard at [email protected]