U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Company Harassed and Underpaid a Black Maintenance Worker Because of Race, Federal Agency Charged
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A producer of pork sausage products located in Union City, Tenn., will pay $60,000 and furnish other relief to settle a wage discrimination and racial harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that Williams Country Sausage violated federal law by paying an African-American maintenance worker less than white counterparts and subjecting him to a hostile work environment. The EEOC asserted that Williams Country Sausage gave raises and paid higher salaries to all maintenance department employees except the department’s lone African-American employee and allowed a supervisor to regularly use racially offensive language toward the employee because of racial animus.
Racial discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit, Civil Action No. 1:10-CV-01263, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Eastern Division after first attempting to settle the matter through its conciliation process.
In addition to monetary relief, the five-year consent decree settling the lawsuit enjoins Williams Country Sausage from further discriminating against employees on the basis of race. The decree requires annual training on employee rights under Title VII and requires Williams Country Sausage to maintain records of racial harassment complaints and provide annual reports to the EEOC. The decree also requires Williams Country Sausage to establish and enforce a written policy that will ensure that employees are protected from discrimination and post a notice to all employees about the lawsuit that provides the EEOC’s contact information.
“Sadly, race discrimination continues to exist in the workplace where workers are paid less and forced to endure a racially hostile work environment,” said Faye A. Williams, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and portions of Mississippi. “It is a violation of federal law and the EEOC will continue to forcefully fight against this type of misconduct.”
Williams Country Sausage, a Tennessee corporation with a production facility in Union City, Tenn., processes meat and produces breakfast pork sausage products and sausage biscuit sandwiches for retail sale.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.