EEOC Says Crom Companies Subjected African Americans to Racial Insults, Physical Abuse
MIAMI – The Crom Corporation and Crom Equipment Rentals violated federal law when they allowed the racial harassment of black employees, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced today. The EEOC also says the Florida-based construction companies unlawfully suspended an African American employee for complaining about severe racial insults, threats and physical abuse.
According to the suit, a white employee at Crom’s Holly Hill, Fla., location locked a black coworker in a tool shed and then spray-painted the shed door with the word “Jail.” The EEOC said that the same white employee also put a hangman’s noose around the black employee’s neck, hung the noose in his work area, and threatened to decapitate him. Another African American employee was offended when he saw the noose hanging at the Holly Hill site. Crom was aware of the harassment but didn’t stop it, according to the suit. Instead, the EEOC said, Crom suspended the black worker after he complained about the noose and rewarded the white offender with a higher-paying position.
“It is shocking and sobering that such cruelty can still occur at an American workplace,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “The EEOC will not falter in its quest to put an end to such injustice.”
Racial harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida (EEOC v. The Crom Corporation, Case No. 1:09-cv-00128-SPM-AK) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
EEOC Miami District Director Jacqueline McNair said, “Even in 2009, nooses still make their way into work environments. The EEOC will vigorously prosecute cases with this sort of workplace terror.”
EEOC Miami Regional Attorney Nora E. Curtin, added, “The nightmarish abuse endured in this case is appalling. The hangman's noose is a haunting symbol of racial hatred and must never be tolerated. Employers must take swift and meaningful action to punish those responsible for such outrageous conduct.”
Crom Corporation and Crom Equipment Rentals sell concrete water tanks and scaffolding and operate throughout Florida and in at least nine other states.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on June 3, 2009.
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