"Slaves," "Monkeys" and "Little Asians" – Racial Harassment Still Plaguing Workplaces

Three more racial harassment lawsuits in the news – both with allegations of racial slurs.

Thankfully, no N-word usage, or nooses in these cases – but just as bad.

A Jacksonville-based online retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise has just been sued by the EEOC for race harassment and retaliation. The suit alleges that the company maintained a “racially divided” workplace, and “subjected employees to racial slurs and comments such as ‘We don’t need any outbreak monkeys here.’”

An employee who complained was allegedly told “that he would never be promoted.”

Physical Assault and “Little Asian”

In a second case, a North Dakota oilfield service company settled a suit for $39,900 after it was alleged by the EEOC that an Asian equipment operator was the subject of racial harassment by his white supervisor – which included his being called “little Asian” and “Chow” “based on the Asian character in the movie ‘Hangover.’”

The supervisor also allegedly poured a bottle of water on the employee’s head and pushed his head down towards a table.

He was fired after he complained to supervisors and went to the police to report this physical assault.

The EEOC regional attorney said, “Racial harassment continues to be a problem in the workplace, and employers must recognize the importance of acting promptly to address complaints about this inexcusable conduct.”

To those who don’t know – employers must promptly investigate and remediate, and cannot retaliate!

$2.5 Million Settlement!

Finally, the EEOC just announced that a Miami hotel agreed to settle a race, color and national origin case for a whopping $2.5 million, after it was alleged that, among other things, black Haitian dishwashers were referred to as “slaves” by the supervising chefs, and reprimanded for speaking Creole among themselves.  After there were complaints to HR, the entire dishwashing staff was fired.

No way to act in the workplace or anywhere, and no way to deal with discrimination or harassment complaints.

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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]