Credit Union Fired a Branch Manager the Day After She Opposed Its Use of a Racially Offensive Video During a Training Session, Agency Says
NEW ORLEANS - Lafayette Schools' Federal Credit Union unlawfully fired its only African-American branch manager because she opposed - and assisted another black employee in opposing - its use of a racially offensive video during a training session, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed here today.
Lafayette Schools' Federal Credit Union, which recently changed its name to Meritus Credit Union, is based in Lafayette, La. The branch manager, Connie Fields-Meaux, ran its branch in Crowley, La., for about three years. According to the EEOC's lawsuit, during a training session, Lafayette Schools' Federal Credit Union used a video depicting a caricature of an African-American fast food worker as an example of "how not to provide customer service." According to the suit, Fields-Meaux was so upset by the video that she momentarily excused herself from the session and that other black employees told Fields-Meaux that they, too, were upset by the video. The EEOC said that Fields-Meaux reported the concerns of one of the African-American employees the next day, and the day after that, Lafayette Schools' Federal Credit Union fired her, without warning or explanation.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed its suit (Civil Action No. 2:18-cv-06673) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The EEOC, which has authority to bring the suit on behalf of the public, has asked the court to permanently enjoin Lafayette Schools' Federal Credit Union from engaging in future retaliation. It has also asked the court to order it to pay Fields-Meaux both punitive and compensatory damages as well as back pay.
"Employers must respond to - and certainly not fire - employees who raise concerns about racially offensive materials," said Keith Hill, director for the EEOC's New Orleans Field Office.
Rudy Sustaita, regional attorney for the Houston District Office, cautioned, "Retaliating against employees for reporting racially offensive workplace conduct is a serious violation of federal law that the EEOC will prosecute."
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.