U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Guatemalan, Mexican Kitchen Employees Subjected to Hostile Work Environment and Retaliation, Federal Agency Charges
MIAMI - Stanley Glaser, dba Glaser Organic Farms in Southwest Miami-Dade County, subjected its kitchen employees to a hostile work environment because of national origin and color, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged in a lawsuit filed today. Glaser also unlawfully retaliated against an employee for filing a discrimination charge, the agency said.
According to EEOC's suit, Glaser kitchen manager Tracey Lawrence subjected kitchen employees of Hispanic national origin to a hostile work environment. This included Lawrence and/or her assistant managers making comments such as "You Mexicans are ignorant," Mexicans are lazy," and "These Mexicans are stupid," as well as regularly referring to employee Debora Velasquez by her national origin (Guatemalan) and singling her out based on color, calling her "negra" and "the chocolate one." After Velasquez filed a discrimination charge with EEOC, Glaser fired her because, it said, it believed she could no longer be trusted in the kitchen.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on national origin and color and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who oppose such discrimination. EEOC filed suit against Glaser (Case No. 1:15-cv-23642) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The suit seeks monetary and injunctive relief.
"Employers are required to provide their employees with an environment free from discrimination, as well as respect an employee's right to access the legal system," said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for EEOC's Miami District Office. "Federal law provides these protections to agricultural workers as well, who may not be aware of their rights under the law. EEOC has and will continue to enforce these laws against employers who violate these obligations."
Ana Consuelo Martinez, trial attorney in EEOC's Miami District Office, added, "Discrimination based on a person's national origin or the color of one's skin is unacceptable in the workplace, especially in an area as culturally and ethnically diverse as South Florida. EEOC has and will continue to take action against employers who take part in this unlawful behavior."
Combating discrimination against agricultural workers falls within one of EEOC's priorities under its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP): protecting immigrant, migrant and other vulnerable workers. Preserving access to the legal system is another specific SEP priority. To learn more about EEOC's strategic plan and enforcement priorities, visit http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/plan/sep.cfm.
For a select list of pending and resolved EEOC cases involving national origin discrimination and/or immigrant workers from 2005 to the present, see http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/litigation/selected/national_origin_immigrant_workers.cfm.
For a select list of pending and resolved cases involving farmworkers from 1999 to the present, see http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/litigation/selected/farmworkers_august_2014.cfm.
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. The Miami District Office's jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.