U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Black Employee Subjected to Hostile Work Environment Because Of His Race, Federal Agency Charged
GREENVILLE, S.C. – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it filed a race discrimination lawsuit today against C.G.D. Developers, Inc. for subjecting a black employee to a hostile work environment because of his race, at its facility in Gaffney, S.C. and various worksites where the employee, Joe M. Wheeler, was assigned. CGD is a South Carolina corporation and employed approximately 20 employees at the time of the harassment.
According to the EEOC’s complaint, CGD most recently hired Wheeler around June 14, 2007, as a laborer, and he worked for CGD until March 20, 2008. During his employment, Wheeler was subjected to racial harassment on a daily or almost daily basis including being called the “N-word.” Wheeler was harassed by two supervisors, including his direct supervisor. Both Wheeler and another former employee of CGD complained to CGD’s owner about the harassment, but the harassment continued until Wheeler left the company.
Race discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v.C.G.D. Inc., Civ. No. 7:10-cv-02553 ), in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. In its suit, the EEOC seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief.
“It is shocking that this type of blatant and severe racial harassment is still found in America’s workplace,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “An employer violates Title VII and risks facing serious legal consequences if they are aware of racial harassment and allow it to continue,” Barnes stated.
The South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC) originally investigated Wheeler’s charges. SCHAC works with the EEOC in investigating charges of employment discrimination. These charges raise claims under South Carolina law as well as federal laws enforced by the EEOC. Further information about SCHAC is available on its web site at www.state.sc.us/schac.
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.