Health Care Services Company and Staffing Agency Fostered a Racially Charged Hostile Work Environment, Federal Agency Charges
LOS ANGELES - Cardinal Health, a global health care services and products company, and staffing agency AppleOne violated federal law by subjecting employees to racial harassment and retaliation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC, African American employees assigned by AppleOne to Cardinal Health's Ontario, Calif., facility, along with black employees directly hired by Cardinal Health, were subjected to ongoing and unwelcome harassment based on their race. The EEOC contends that such harassment was perpetrated by co-workers, supervisors, and managers, and included daily use of racial epithets, degrading racial comments and racially derogatory graffiti. When employees complained, neither Cardinal Health nor AppleOne took immediate and corrective action regarding the harassment. This lack of action allowed the hostile work environment to fester, according to the EEOC. Additionally, employees who did complain were fired as retaliation.
Racial discrimination and retaliation for complaining about it are prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (EEOC v. Cardinal Health and Howroyd-Wright Employment Agency dba AppleOne Employment Services; Case No.: 5:19-cv-00941) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC's suit seeks monetary damages for a class of employees, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent and correct discrimination.
"The EEOC continues to see too many complaints of harassment in the workplace," said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC's Los Angeles District Office. "Under federal law, employers must promptly take action when harassment is reported."
Rosa Viramontes, the EEOC's Los Angeles District director, added, "It is important for staffing agencies and employers to understand their responsibilities when an employee reports discrimination or harassment. In a joint-employer relationship, both entities are responsible to stop and address reported harassment."
According to its website, www.appleone.com, California-headquartered AppleOne provides employment services both domestically and internationally.
According to Cardinal Health's website, www.cardinalhealth.com, the Dublin, Ohio-based company is global, integrated health care services and products company which provides customized solutions for hospitals, health systems, pharmacies, ambulatory surgery centers, and physician offices worldwide.
Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is also one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
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.