Black Employees Subjected to Racial Insults, Federal Agency Charged
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Stokesdale, N.C.-based Yates Construction Company, Inc. will pay $30,000 to settle a racial harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that Yates subjected an African-American employee to racial harassment and discharged him in retaliation for complaining about it. The settlement also includes one other person who was allegedly subjected to racial harassment.
According to the EEOC's suit, Rodney McCants and at least one other black employee were repeatedly subjected to the use of racial slurs such as the "N" word, and to racially offensive jokes about African-Americans. The suit further charged that McCants complained about the harassment on at least two occasions in late 2007 and early 2008, but the company failed to stop the harassment. The suit also asserted that McCants was discharged in April 2008 in retaliation for his complaints.
Racial harassment and retaliation violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Yates Construction Company, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:09-cv-00687) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court through its conciliation process.
In addition to monetary damages, the consent decree resolving the case provides for injunctive relief to prevent Yates Construction from further maintaining a racially hostile work environment or engaging in retaliation. The decree also requires the company to post its policy against racial harassment in the workplace; distribute the policy to employees; provide annual, company-wide training on racial harassment to its owners and supervisors; and report future verbal or written complaints of racial harassment or retaliation to the EEOC.
“The EEOC is glad that it was able to resolve this case in favor of Mr. McCants and the other African-American employee who testified that he was subjected to racial harassment,” Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney of the EEOC's Charlotte District Office said. “Also, the injunctive relief that the EEOC obtained will help to ensure that there are no incidents of racial harassment at Yates Construction in the future.”
Tina Burnside, supervisory trial attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District, added, “The EEOC is committed to combating retaliation and ensuring that employees can complain about discrimination in the workplacewithout the fear of being disciplined or fired.”
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s website at www.eeoc.gov.