Senior Management Failed to Take Action on Complaints Involving Noose, KKK Hood, Racist Epithets and Jokes at Work, Federal Agency Charged
MINNEAPOLIS - Sealy of Minnesota has agreed to pay $175,000 to resolve a charge of racial harassment filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
An investigation by the EEOC's Minneapolis Area Office revealed that Sealy, a mattress and box spring manufacturing company with operations in St. Paul, Minn., subjected its black and Hispanic employees to severe racial harassment. The EEOC said the misconduct included a noose, a Ku Klux Klan hood and racist epithets and jokes. Despite complaints by employees to Sealy's senior management, the offensive conduct did not cease.
Following an investigation of the discrimination charge, the EEOC determined that there was reasonable cause to believe the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In addition, the EEOC found that Sealy also discriminated against black and Hispanic employees in its selection process for lead positions at its St. Paul facility.
"Sealy now understands that it is not enough for an employer to have an anti-harassment policy," said Julie Schmid, acting director of the EEOC's Minneapolis Area Office. "An employer must have an effective policy, respond to allegations promptly, and take immediate and appropriate corrective action to end the discrimination."
EEOC Chicago District Director Julianne Bowman said, "We are pleased that Sealy worked cooperatively with us to fashion an anti-harassment policy that will better address employee complaints. By implementing this new policy as well as revising its hiring process for lead positions, Sealy is demonstrating its commitment to the federal EEO laws."
In addition to paying a total of $175,000 to the harassment victims, Sealy will provide anti-discrimination training to all its employees and additional training on harassment and retaliation to its supervisors, managers and owners. The company will revise and disseminate its anti-harassment policy to all employees and make available an anonymous hotline phone number for employees to report discrimination complaints. Sealy will also revise the performance evaluations of all supervisors to require compliance with EEO laws as part of their position. The company has also implemented a more objective application process for all lead positions to base its selections on relevant skills and experience necessary for the posted position.
The EEOC's Minneapolis Area Office is part of the Chicago District, which has jurisdiction over Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and North and South Dakota.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.