Black Delivery Driver Humiliated by a Hanging Noose & Racial Epithets; Management Failed to Stop It, Federal Agency Charges
LAS VEGAS - Electrical distributor Wedco, Inc. violated federal law by subjecting a black delivery driver to racial harassment and discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today against the family-run business based in Reno, Nev.
According to the EEOC, the delivery driver was exposed to a visible noose hanging in the receiving area since he began working for Wedco in 2007 at the Reno location. The EEOC further charges that a warehouse lead and receiving clerk - both white - continually ridiculed the driver due to his race with derogatory comments and jokes, often referring to the driver as a "n---r." Although the driver reported the noose and the verbal harassment to a manager, no action was allegedly taken to stop or deal with the harassment.
In addition, the delivery driver - the only black employee at the time - was treated differently in that he was denied breaks, forced to ask permission to use the restroom and had his schedule intentionally interrupted by his supervisor. Ultimately, the EEOC said, the insurmountable harassment and discrimination forced the driver to quit in 2008.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada (EEOC v. Wedco, Inc., Case No. 3:12-cv-00523) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC's suit seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the driver as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent further discrimination and harassment at the company.
"Racial epithets and nooses have no place in the workplace in this day and age," said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles District, whose jurisdiction includes southern Nevada. "The EEOC is here to help those who continue to face such obstacles as they try to earn a living."
Olophius Perry, district director for the EEOC's Los Angeles District, added, "Employers that ignore complaints of racial harassment often exacerbate an already bad situation. Federal law requires that employers, and particularly managers as their representatives, heed such complaints and take immediate and corrective action to effectively address the problem. Failure to do so sends the wrong signals to the harassed employee, the harasser, and the workplace as a whole. "
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.