U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Painter Lost Job Due to Complaints About Racism, Federal Agency Charged
DETROIT – Atsalis Brothers Painting Company, a Warren, Mich.-based painting company which does business in several states, will pay $65,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that Atsalis unlawfully retaliated against an employee for objecting to race discrimination.
In its lawsuit filed in 2011, the EEOC said that Atsalis retaliated against Rodney Trice, a journeyman painter, who complained about the use of the “N-word” by his foreman, by not bringing him back to work for the 2008 work season. (EEOC v. Atsalis Bros. Painting Co., Civil Action No. 11-cv-11296).
Race discrimination and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The approval of the consent decree by Judge Victoria A. Roberts brings a formal end to the litigation between the EEOC and Atsalis. In addition to paying $65,000 to Trice, 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 object to discriminatory conduct without fear of being punished by his employer is fundamental to ensuring equal employment opportunity,” said EEOC Trial Attorney Dale Price. “Employers should encourage such objection, not penalize it.”
In addition to Price, EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Kenneth Bird and Regional Attorney Laurie Young led the government’s litigation.
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.