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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
9-27-12

EEOC Sues Nevada Business Wedco for Race Harassment and Discrimination

Black Delivery  Driver Humiliated by a Hanging Noose & Racial Epithets; Management  Failed to Stop It, Federal Agency Charges

LAS VEGAS - Electrical  distributor Wedco, Inc. violated federal law by subjecting a black delivery  driver to racial harassment and discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment  Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today against the family-run  business based in Reno, Nev. 

According to the EEOC, the delivery driver was exposed to a  visible noose hanging in the receiving area since he began working for Wedco in  2007 at the Reno location.  The EEOC  further charges that a warehouse lead and receiving clerk - both white - continually  ridiculed the driver due to his race with derogatory comments and jokes, often  referring to the driver as a "n---r."   Although the driver reported the noose and the verbal harassment to a  manager, no action was allegedly taken to stop or deal with the harassment. 

In addition, the delivery driver - the only black employee  at the time - was treated differently in that he was denied breaks, forced to  ask permission to use the restroom and had his schedule intentionally  interrupted by his supervisor.   Ultimately, the EEOC said, the insurmountable harassment and  discrimination forced the driver to quit in 2008. 

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights  Act of 1964.  The EEOC filed suit in U.S.  District Court for the District of Nevada (EEOC  v. Wedco, Inc., Case No. 3:12-cv-00523) after first attempt­ing to reach a  pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  The EEOC's suit seeks back pay and  compensatory and punitive damages for the driver as well as injunctive relief  intended to prevent further discrimination and harassment at the company.   

"Racial epithets and nooses have no place in the workplace  in this day and age," said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC's Los  Angeles District, whose jurisdiction includes southern Nevada.  "The EEOC is here to help those who continue  to face such obstacles as they try to earn a living."

Olophius Perry, district director for the EEOC's Los Angeles  District, added, "Employers that ignore complaints of racial harassment often  exacerbate an already bad situation.   Federal law requires that employers, and particularly managers as their  representatives, heed such complaints and take immediate and corrective action  to effectively address the problem.   Failure to do so sends the wrong signals to the harassed employee, the  harasser, and the workplace as a whole. " 

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment  discrimination.  Further information  about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.