Racial Harassment: EEOC Files Many More Cases

Just four days ago – only four days ago! – I posted that “It was just last month – August – that I posted my most recent article about the use of the N-word and nooses in the workplace.”

Well – in the last four days three more such cases have been filed by the EEOC!

These cases are coming so quickly that I cannot keep up – and all around the country.

To recap:

I wrote recently in Above the Law that “[i]t seems that racial harassment cases always have the same racial slurs and tropes: either the N-word, a noose, or both. Always. Although KKK hoods are becoming popular these days.”

And I noted that “[i]n only the last few weeks there have been three new EEOC lawsuits and one settlement – each involving, among other things — the N-word, and/or nooses!  And in one, a supervisor made a wire noose and threatened to hang the African-American employees!”

Well, in an effort to keep documenting these cases and urging all employers to be vigilant in preventing such workplace (mis)conduct, here are the latest such cases.

First, the EEOC alleged that a foreman at a Missouri contractor

repeatedly used the slur ‘n—-r’ toward employees and over the company radio. After an African-American employee complained about the harassment, the foreman angrily confronted the employee. Rather than disciplining the harasser, the contractor transferred the employee from his assignment as a backhoe operator to a less desirable job doing pick-and-shovel work in another state,” and then fired him.   

An EEOC official said that “Despite the progress we have seen over the last half century, racial harassment continues to occur in too many American workplaces.”

In a second case, a California forklift services company was sued because its employees allegedly “engaged in constant harassment of Hispanic employees, including the use of derogatory slurs and mocking of employees’ accents.”

Said the EEOC:

“National origin harassment in the workplace can take many different forms, including ethnic slurs and offensive conduct based on an employee’s accent. Such misconduct is harmful and unacceptable. Employers must ensure that employees who violate the company’s anti-harassment policies are held accountable for their actions.”

Finally, the EEOC alleged that a Maryland security services firm “engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against Africans based on their national origin.”  It was alleged that a project manager “began complaining that there were ‘too many Africans,’ mocking their accents, and declaring that he would reduce the number of Africans on the contract, including by terminating and refusing to hire them.” 

The company then allegedly “systematically denied leave to African employees and those perceived to be African; forced them to work on their scheduled days off; subjected them to heightened scrutiny, intimidation, suspension, repeated threats of termination and trumped-up charges of misconduct and poor performance; denied them union representation; and/or terminated them without cause.”

Takeaway:  Unfortunately, looks like I will be writing about these cases for a long time. …

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 119 other subscribers

Posted in

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]