Salt Lake City Warehouse Workers Suffered Hostile Work Environment, Agency Charges
DENVER – A Grand Junction, CO-based moving and storage company violated federal law at its Salt Lake City, UT warehouse by discriminating against employees because of their national origin, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Hispanic warehouse workers employed at Mesa Systems, Inc. were subjected to discrimination, including a hostile work environment based on national origin. The employees were subject to slurs, such as “(expletive deleted) Mexicans,” “(expletive deleted) you, mojado” [wetback], and that the warehouse manager was doing well until the immigrant employees came. The EEOC also alleges that employees of various national origins were subject to a restrictive language policy that had disparate impact against Hispanics and Asians/Pacific Islanders. The EEOC further claims that a number of employees suffered retaliation, including terminations and reductions in hours, after two employee petitions and other complaints were submitted to management.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to resolve the case informally through its conciliation process. The lawsuit, EEOC v. Mesa Systems, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:11-cv-01201-CW, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, Central Division, seeks back pay, lost benefits, compensatory and punitive damages, and reinstatement for the terminated employees, as well as injunctive relief, including training, policies, and programs to stop any future violations of Title VII.
“Offensive slurs and comments deriding one’s national origin violate Title VII and are never appropriate in the workplace; such conduct is the very definition of a hostile work environment,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, whose jurisdiction includes the EEOC’s Denver Field Office.
EEOC Denver Field Office Director Nancy Sienko said, “The EEOC’s mission to eliminate and prevent all forms of employment discrimination, including discrimination based on national origin, remains vital and necessary. We stand ready to assist employees who believe they have suffered discrimination and who seek the EEOC’s assistance.”
According to its web site, Mesa Systems, Inc. delivers premium, customized mobility solutions to a diverse corporate, commercial, and residential customer base through four transportation subsidiaries operating in six states.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The Phoenix District Office covers Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, and part of New Mexico. Further information is available on the EEOC’s website at www.eeoc.gov.