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PRESS RELEASE
11-7-18

EEOC Sues Lancaster’s BBQ & Wings for Racial Harassment And Constructive Discharge

Black Employee Had to Quit Due to Racial Slurs and Harassment, Federal Agency Charges

STATESVILLE, N.C. - Joe's Old Fashioned Bar-B-Que, Inc., doing business as Lancaster's BBQ & Wings, a North Carolina corporation, violated federal law when it subjected a black employee to a racially hostile work environment at the company's Mooresville, N.C., barbeque restaurant, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. 

According to the EEOC's suit, Shana Knox worked in the carryout area at Lancaster's BBQ's Mooresville restaurant from March 2016 through January 2017. The agency said that during Knox's employment, a white coworker repeatedly made offensive racist statements to Knox, including use of the N-word and racial jokes about blacks. Some of the harassment occurred in management's presence. Although Knox complained to management, the harassment continued. The EEOC said that Knox was forced to resign after the co-worker threw hot barbeque sauce on her and called her the N-word. At least one manager is alleged to have witnessed the incident, but did not intervene. The EEOC further charged that the company failed to comply with the federal law that requires employers to preserve certain personnel records for at least one year.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from allowing a racially hostile work environment to exist in the workplace. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina (EEOC v. Joe's Old Fashioned Bar-B-Que, Inc. d/b/a Lancaster's BBQ & Wings, Case No. 5:18-cv-000180) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC seeks full relief including back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief.

"Employers must take appropriate action to stop employees' use of racial slurs in the workplace," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "The EEOC takes a company's disregard for the federally protected rights of its employees very seriously and will prosecute cases where this kind of abuse occurs."

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.