African-American Detailer Abused With Racial Slurs, Jokes, Federal Agency Charged
DETROIT - Lafontaine Cadillac, Buick, GMC, Inc., a Highland, Mich.-based automobile dealership, will pay $75,000 to settle a racial harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that Lafontaine unlawfully subjected a black employee to a racially hostile work environment.
In its lawsuit filed in 2014, the EEOC said that William Tyler, a detailer for the dealership, was subjected to a racially hostile work environment by his supervisor and co-workers, including use of the N-word and other racial slurs and jokes.
Race discrimination, including racial harassment, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (EEOC v. Lafontaine Buick Cadillac GMC, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:14-cv-11172) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The approval of the consent decree by Judge Arthur Tarnow brings a formal end to the litigation between the EEOC and Lafontaine. In addition to paying $75,000 to Tyler, the decree requires the company to provide ongoing anti-discrimination training to all of the company's officers, managers, supervisors and human resources personnel; create a new anti-discrimination policy; institute new procedures for handling discrimination complaints; and file reports with the EEOC regarding compliance with the decree's requirements.
"The right of an employee to be free from harassment based on race or color is central to ensuring equal employment opportunity," said EEOC Trial Attorney Dale Price.
In addition to Price, EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Kenneth Bird and Regional Attorney Laurie Young led the government's litigation.
Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
The EEOC's Detroit Field Office is responsible for processing charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Michigan and part of Northwestern Ohio. The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting
employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.