EEOC Seal

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
4-8-10

Professional Building Systems Of North Carolina To Pay $118,000 To Settle Race Harassment Case

Custom Homes Manufacturer Subjected African American Employees to Racial Harassment, EEOC Charged

CHARLOTTE,  N.C. – Professional Building Systems of North Carolina, LLC, of Mt. Gilead,  N.C., will pay $118,000to six  African American employees who filed charges of racial harassment with the U.S.  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and six more African Americans  who were also subjected to racial harassment, the agency announced today. Additionally, the company agreed to  significant non-monetary relief to settle the lawsuit brought by the EEOC.

The  EEOC brought the lawsuit against Professional Building Systems after it had  identified at least 12 black employees who had been subjected to racial  harassment there. According to the  EEOC’s complaint, at various times between mid-2005 and 2008, black employees  were subjected to racial harassment that involved the creation and display of  nooses; references to black employees as “boy” and by the "N-word”; and  racially offensive pictures such as a picture that depicted the Ku Klux Klan  looking down a well at a black man. In  its complaint, the EEOC alleged that the managers of Professional Building  Systems not only knew about the harassment and took no action to stop or  prevent it, but also that a manager was one of the perpetrators of the  harassment.

Racial  harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court  for the Middle District of North Carolina (EEOC  v. Professional Building  Systems of North Carolina,  LLC, Civil Action No. 1:09-cv-00617), after attempting to reach a voluntary  settle­ment with Professional Building Systems.  Thereafter, six of the harassment victims intervened in the EEOC’s  lawsuit via private counsel.

“Make  no mistake: Almost fifty years after the  passage of landmark civil rights laws, nooses and racial epithets like the  “N-word” are still being used to ridicule and intimidate in the work­place,”  said Acting EEOC Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru.  “The EEOC will forcefully fight this reprehensible and racist conduct  wherever we find it, and we’ll insist on securing substantial relief for  victims, as we did in this case.”

In addition to monetary damages, the consent decree  resolving the case provides for injunctive relief to prevent Professional  Building Systems from maintaining a racially hostile work environment or  engaging in retaliation under Title VII.  The decree also requires the company to post its policy against racial  harassment; distribute the policy to employees; provide annual, company-wide  training on racial harassment; eliminate all existing nooses or racial  epithets, if any, from its facility; and report future verbal or written  complaints of racial harassment.

“Nooses  are symbols of hate, prejudice, and discrimination, which should not and will  not be tolerated in the workplace,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney  of the EEOC’s Charlotte  District. “It is especially inexcusable when managers  perpetrate racial harassment against their sub­ordinates or know about racial  harassment and fail to address it. EEOC  will continue its efforts to eliminate racial harassment in the workplace on  behalf of harassment victims.”

Tina  Burnside, supervisory trial attorney in the EEOC’s Charlotte District, added,  “The EEOC is pleased that the consent decree includes injunctive measures  designed to ensure that black employ­ees are no longer subjected to racial  harassment and can work in an environment free of nooses and racial graffiti.”

The EEOC is  responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is  available on the agency’s website at www.eeoc.gov.