Federal Agency Charges Black Driver Fired for Objecting to Racist Comments
RENO, Nev. — Sierra Restroom Solutions, a supplier of on-site portable toilets in Northern Nevada, violated federal law by permitting racial harassment in its workplace and by firing an African American driver for reporting it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
The EEOC’s suit asserts that Michael Scales, a route driver employed by Sierra Restroom Solutions for one and a half years, endured racist comments, epithets and behavior from his coworker and his supervisor. For example, his co-worker allegedly flaunted a swastika tattoo and talked about the need to keep the white race “pure.” His own supervisor used the N-word to refer to Scales in conversation with others and, in another instance, the same supervisor made fun of white employees for performing worse than Scales on a work-related test, according to the EEOC. After Scales complained to his supervisor twice in one month about his co-worker’s racist behavior, he was fired just two days later.
Racial harassment is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which also forbids retaliating against an employee who opposes such conduct. The EEOC filed the suit (EEOC v. Sierra Restroom Solutions, LLC., Civ. No. 3:09-CV-00537) in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, Northern Division) only after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through conciliation. The suit seeks monetary damages, training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of notices at the work site and other injunctive relief.
"The law is clear: all employees have the right to work in an environment free from hostility, intimidation and ridicule,” said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo. “In this case, the company failed to live up to its responsibility to provide a workplace free of racial hostility. Mr. Scales should not have to tolerate his supervisor’s and co-worker’s racist attitudes in order to keep his job.”
EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado said, “The racial harassment that Mr. Scales endured at Sierra is simply wrong and illegal, as was the company’s failure to investigate the harassment, stop the unlawful conduct, and discipline those responsible. It is also tragic that Sierra chose to retaliate against Mr. Scales for complaining about the harassment, while it continued to employ those responsible for the abuse.”
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 September 16, 2009.
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