Company Subjected Employees to Racial Slurs, Retaliated Against Them for Complaining, Federal Agency Charged
PHOENIX — Emmert Industrial Corp., d/b/a Emmert International, violated federal law by harassing employees and retaliating against them for opposing the harassment, among other unlawful practices, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
The suit alleges that an Emmert International project superintendent and other employees routinely subjected employees to unwelcome racial harassment, including frequent racial slurs. These actions took place in 2009, when Emmert was working on a project to move Odd Fellows Hall, a nineteenth century building in downtown Salt Lake City. The EEOC alleges that the project superintendent harassed at least one black employee and, when the employee asked him to stop, the superintendent told him he could leave the job if he didn’t like it. The EEOC also alleges that Emmert International then isolated that employee and later did not rehire him because of his complaint and because of his race. Emmert International similarly harassed and retaliated against a white employee in an interracial marriage, according to the EEOC’s lawsuit.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits race discrimination in employment and protects employees from retaliation when they report discriminatory treatment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Emmert Industrial d/b/a Emmert International, Civil Action No. CIV-11-00920-CW) in the United States District Court for the District of Utah, Central Division after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process.
“After more than forty years of enforcement of the federal statute prohibiting race discrimination in employment, there is no excuse for the prevalent use of racial slurs and other discriminatory treatment in the workplace,” said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office. “Moreover, employees must know that when they complain about such treatment, they are protected by law.”
EEOC Phoenix District Director Rayford O. Irvin added, “Every employee deserves to work in an environment free from harassment. Many people believe that blatant race discrimination no longer exists, but the problem persists. The EEOC will continue its efforts to eradicate race discrimination and protect employees from unlawful retaliation.”
The EEOC’s Phoenix District has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.