U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Black Employee Endured Crude Racial Slurs, Threats From Swastika-Wearing Foreman And Was Forced to Quit Over Abuse, Federal Agency Charged
ATLANTA – Towersite Services, LLC, (TSS) a Roswell, Ga.-based firm that provides installation and testing of cell phone towers for companies located throughout the Southeast, violated federal law when it forced an African-American employee to work under severe and repeated racial harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it recently filed.
According to the EEOC’s suit, Granville Ritchie was hired by TSS in January 2009 to perform all aspects of cell phone tower installation, testing, and maintenance. Throughout the course of his employment with TSS, Ritchie was regularly subjected to racially derogatory comments, hostile gestures and threats from the foreman who was assigned to lead the team for which Ritchie worked. The supervisor, who wore a swastika on his arm, claimed he “cut an African from belly to neck,” and said he “likes killing blacks and Mexicans,” adding, “just hang them and burn a cross on their homes.” He called Ritchie “boy,” said “whites run things,” praised burning crosses on lawns, screamed and yelled at Ritchie and threatened to harm him physically, the EEOC said.
Despite several complaints by Ritchie to management officials concerning the misconduct, the harassment continued. The harassing conduct was so hostile that Ritchie quit his position in fear for his safety, the EEOC said.
All this alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 1:10-cv-02997-TWT-JFK) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement. The EEOC is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for Ritchie. The lawsuit also seeks injunctive relief designed to stop race discrimination and prevent it from recurring in the future.
“The extreme abuse that Mr. Ritchie suffered is something that no American employee should be forced to endure,” said Robert Dawkins, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “The purpose of this lawsuit is not just to vindicate the rights of Mr. Ritchie, but to make sure that no one else will be forced to endure similar misconduct.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.