Racially Hostile Work Environment Offends Black and White Employees at McGriff’s Truck Facility
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – McGriff Industries, Inc. and its subsidiary McGriff Transportation, Inc., which operated a truck transportation facility in Cullman, Ala., will pay $100,000 and furnish other relief to settle a racial harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC, certain employees and managers in the Cullman facility routinely used racially derogatory comments, slurs, and insults directed at or about African-Americans. The racial misconduct escalated to threats and intimidation, including a derogatory threat to cut one of the black employees. White and black employees were offended by the racial misconduct, but were rebuffed and retaliated against -- one employee was terminated and another had his work assignments changed -- when they complained.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from employment discrimination because of their race, sex, religion or national origin and from retaliation for complaining about it. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama Northeastern Division (Civil Action 5:09-CV-01952-IPJ) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.
The settlement, by consent decree entered by the court on June 22, 2010, provides for a total payment of $100,000 to Todd A. Roseborough, Sr., Paul Hogan and Aaron Greenwood. The decree also includes injunctive terms applicable to each of McGriff’s offices, facilities and retail establishments in the state of Alabama. Among other requirements, McGriff must develop and implement effective anti-discrimination policies and procedures, and train its employees, supervisors and managers on the prohibitions against racial misconduct in the workplace. The company will develop a system for reporting, investigating and addressing complaints of workplace racial misconduct; hold all employees accountable for engaging in it; and hold supervisors and managers accountable for tolerating or failing to address such misconduct.
“This case is important because no employee should be subject to racism in the workplace and every employee can be offended by a racially hostile work environment,” said EEOC Birmingham District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas. “We are pleased that McGriff's senior management is now taking an active role in promoting compliance with federal civil rights law.”
EEOC Birmingham District Office Regional Attorney C. Emanuel Smith added, “The Commission will continue to litigate cases involving allegations of a racially hostile work environment. We encourage employers to be proactive and responsive to employee complaints about workplace derogatory conduct or comments.”
The EEOC’s Birmingham District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Alabama, Mississippi and Northern Florida, with Area Offices in Jackson, Miss., and Mobile, Ala.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.