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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
9-8-10

Eclipse Advantage Sued by EEOC for Racially Hostile Work Environment and Retaliation

Black Employee Subjected to Racial Slurs, Demotion and Subsequent Termination, Federal Agency Charges

CLEVELAND - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced today that Eclipse Advantage, Inc., violated federal law by subjecting an African-American employee to racial discrimination and retaliation at its Aldi Food Service warehouse in Hinckley, Ohio.

In its suit (Case No. 1:10-cv-02001), filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, the EEOC charged that Rodney Williams began working in a supervisory position with the company in August 2009, and shortly thereafter was subjected to racial epithets from his superiors. On his first day, Williams was asked if he was a “black man or a n----r.” The complaint alleges that management frequently used racial slurs, most notably the N-word in the workplace. Additionally, the EEOC says that Williams was demoted from supervisor to team lead and then discharged from his position as a team lead after complaining about a racially hostile work environment.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on national origin, race, color, sex (including sexual harassment or pregnancy) or religion and protects employees who complain about or oppose such discrimination from retaliation.

The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement. The EEOC seeks to eliminate these discriminatory practices and have Eclipse Advantage compensate Williams for his losses and provide equal opportunities to black employees.

“This case shows that racial harassment continues to permeate too many American work environments,” said EEOC Philadelphia Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence, whose district includes parts of Ohio. “As bad as this racial abuse was, Eclipse made a bad situation worse by punishing the victim for complaining. This kind of misconduct is completely unconscionable and illegal, and the EEOC will continue to fight it.” 

According to company information, Eclipse Advantage provides distribution services and IT solutions at approximately 45 customer locations throughout the United States and Canada.

In Fiscal Year 2009, the EEOC received 33,579 charges alleging race-based discrimination, accounting for 36 percent of the agency's private sector caseload. Historically, race-based charges have been the most frequent type of filing with EEOC offices nationwide. 

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