The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

PRESS RELEASE
9-11-09

RACIAL HARASSMENT AND RETALIATION COSTS R.S. BRASWELL / BOBCAT OF MONROE $21,000

Black Employee Called ‘N-Word’ and Other Racial Slurs, Then Fired for Complaining, EEOC Charged

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A Kannapolis, N.C.-based supplier of forklift and Bobcat loaders agreed to pay $21,000 and furnish substantial non-monetary relief to settle a racial harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that an African American mechanic was subjected to a racially hostile work environment and then fired after complaining to his supervisors about the harassment.

According to the EEOC’s complaint (EEOC v. R.S. Braswell Company, Inc., d/b/a Bobcat of Monroe, Civil Action No. 3:08-cv-00074, U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina), R.S. Braswell Company, Inc. subjected Derrick Lockhart to unwelcome racially derogatory remarks and comments by his co-workers at the company’s Bobcat of Monroe facility in Monroe, N.C., in 2005. The EEOC said that Lockhart’s co-workers used the epithets “n-----r” and “blackie” to refer to Lockhart as well as blacks in general, and told offensive jokes about African Americans. Lockhart voiced several complaints about the harassment to his supervisors, but the racist jokes and comments continued. The lawsuit also charges the company terminated Lockhart a short time later in retaliation for his complaints.

Harassment based on race and retaliation for complaining about it violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

The consent decree settling the suit, signed by Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer, provides $21,000 in monetary relief to Lockhart. The decree also provides for injunctive relief preventing R.S. Braswell Company, Inc. from subjecting any employee to harassment based on race, and from retaliating against anyone who complains about such harassment. The decree also requires the company to adopt, implement, and post an anti-discrimination policy. Further, the company is required to provide annual, company-wide anti-discrimination training. Finally, it must provide the EEOC with semi-annual reports of written and verbal complaints of unwelcome racial conduct made by employees.

“Tolerance of racial insults in the workplace has been, and continues to be, one of the most invidious forms of discrimination that the Commission endeavors to eradicate,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District. “With every lawsuit the Commission files on behalf of people who have been subjected to racial harassment in the workplace, and with every dollar employers pay for their failure to resolve it, we hope that employers will become more sensitive to preventing such discrimination.”

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


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