Hotel Failed to Halt a Barrage of Racial Slurs Endured by a Class of Latino / Brown-Skinned Workers, Federal Agency Charged
LAS VEGAS - Pioneer Hotel, Inc. in Laughlin, Nev., will pay $150,000 and furnish other relief to settle a national origin and color discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
The EEOC charged that a class of Latino and/or brown-skinned workers was subjected to a barrage of highly offensive and derogatory comments about their national origin and/or skin color since at least 2006. Housekeeping and security department staffers in particular were constantly the targets of slurs by several supervisors and co-workers. In addition, the EEOC asserted that Latino / brown-skinned workers were told not to speak Spanish during their break times. Pioneer failed to stop and rectify the harassment and discrimination despite repeated complaints by the Latino / brown-skinned workers, according to the EEOC.
All this alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit against Pioneer in 2011 in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada (EEOC v. Pioneer Hotel, Inc. d/b/a Pioneer Hotel and Gambling Hall, Case No. 2:11-cv-01588-LRH-GWF), alleging that the harassment and discrimination of workers based on national origin, Latino, and color, brown, violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
The EEOC and Pioneer entered into a four-year consent decree to resolve the suit, prohibiting Pioneer from creating, facilitating or permitting a hostile work environment for employees who are Latino or darker-skinned.
Pioneer also agreed to pay $150,000 to the class members and hire an outside equal employment opportunity consultant to ensure that the company implements effective policies, procedures and training for all employees to prevent discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Pursuant to the decree, Pioneer management will receive additional training on its responsibilities under Title VII; be required to immediately report complaints to the human resources department; and be held accountable for failing to take appropriate action. Pioneer further agreed to visibly post the notice of consent decree at the hotel and create a centralized system to track complaints. The EEOC will monitor compliance with the decree.
"Combating systemic harassment in the workplace is a priority for the EEOC," said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles District. "Isolated instances of harassment can quickly escalate into a full-scale hostile work environment when employers neglect their duty to take immediate, corrective action upon learning of the initial problem. We encourage employers to effectively investigate complaints and recognize color discrimination."
Amy Burkholder, director of the EEOC's Las Vegas Local Office, added, "People have the right to work without being the target of slurs about their country of origin or skin color. Employees also have the right to report harassment and discrimination without becoming targets of illegal retaliation. Where those federal protections are violated, the EEOC is here to help."
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 is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.