Federal Agency Obtains $50,000 for Black Driver Fired for Objecting to Racism
RENO — Northern Nevada-based Sierra Restroom Solutions, a supplier of onsite portable toilets, has agreed to pay $50,000 to an African-American driver to settle a federal racial harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC, driver Michael Scales endured racist comments, epithets and harassment from his supervisor and his coworker during the one and a half years he worked for Sierra Restroom Solutions. His supervisor used the N-word to refer to Scales in conversation with others, and in another instance, made fun of white employees for performing worse than Scales on a work-related test. In addition, his co-worker flaunted a swastika tattoo and talked about the need to keep the white race “pure.” After Scales complained to his supervisor a second time that month about his co-worker’s racist behavior, he was fired just two days later.
"People who work expect to be treated with respect,” Scales said. “Individuals should not accept discrimination and should exercise their rights. “People should bring companies who discriminate out in the open so people know who they are. I'm glad I reported my case to the EEOC."
Racial harassment is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which also forbids retaliating against an employee who opposes such conduct. After an investigation by EEOC Investigator Eric Darius and after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through conciliation, the EEOC filed the suit (EEOC v. Sierra Restroom Solutions, LLC., Civ. No. 3:09-CV-00537) in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, Northern Division). During litigation, the company was sold to Sierra Site Solutions which was later acquired by United Site Services, Inc.
EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo said, “The law is clear: all employees have the right to work in an environment free from hostility, intimidation and ridicule. In this case, the company failed to live up to its responsibility to provide a workplace free of racial hostility.”
EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado added, “We hope this resolution sends a clear message: employers that receive notice of racial harassment should take prompt and effective measures to investigate, stop any unlawful conduct and discipline those found responsible.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.