Richmond Wholesale Bakery Subjected Black Employees to Offensive Racial Comments, Federal Agency Charged
RICHMOND, Va. – Weiman’s Bakery, Inc. violated federal law by subjecting African-American employees to a hostile work environment based on their race, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. Weiman’s Bakery is a family-owned business that produces and sells bread wholesale to local restaurants in Richmond.
According to the EEOC’s complaint, from around March 11, 2009 until at least March 23, 2010 Dominique R. Terry, Javon Wilson and other African-American employees were subjected to racially offensive language from Weiman’s vice president and one of Weiman’s supervisors, who had direct supervisory authority over Terry and the black employees. The complaint alleges that the supervisor called Terry and other African-American employees “n----r” and made insulting racial comments such as, “I am glad to get rid of that n----r,” and “you are a stupid n----r.” The supervisor would also refer to Terry and other black employees as “cocoa,” saying things like, “Cocoa, get bread out of the poofer.” Instead of calling Terry by name, the supervisor would sometimes call him “jughead” or “boy.” The complaint further alleges that on at least three separate occasions the vice president referred to Terry as a “monkey,” saying things like “You need to cut the dough faster, monkey,” or “You smell like a monkey.” The VP and supervisor made these race-based comments daily or almost daily. Wilson overheard the same supervisor refer to black employees as “nigger” at least twice per week. Terry, Wilson and other black employees found these comments offensive.
The EEOC further charges that beginning around March 11, 2009 and until Nov. 9, 2009, that Terry and other black employees made several complaints to the vice president and the supervisor about their unwelcome racial comments. However, the racial harassment continued.
Race discrimination, including racial harassment, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (EEOC v. Weiman’s Bakery, Inc., Civil Action No. 3:11cv00644) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The EEOC seeks damages for past and future pecuniary losses, past and future non-pecuniary losses, compensatory damages and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief.
“No worker should have to endure such crude and cruel insults as these,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office which includes the state of Virginia. “The EEOC is deeply committed to combating such misconduct and filing suit against employers if they ignore complaints about it.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.