Owner Constantly Harassed Black Employees, Forcing Many to Quit, Federal Agency Charges
ROCK HILL, S.C. - Two interconnected South Carolina trucking companies violated federal law when they subjected black employees to a racially hostile work environment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. The working conditions forced many of the companies' black employees to resign, according to EEOC's complaint.
According to EEOC's suit, T-N-T of York County, Inc. and TM Trucking of the Carolinas, LLC (jointly referred to as "TNT entities") subjected multiple employees to racial harassment in 2013 and 2014 which involved frequent use of the "N-word" by the companies' owner. The complaint further alleges that some employees heard the owner make derogatory comments about African-Americans, such as comments that black people cannot read and write.
Rodney Dunlap, who worked for the defendant companies from approximately June 2013 to January 2014, was one of two employees who filed a discrimination charge with EEOC based on the harassment. EEOC's complaint alleges Dunlap was forced to resign his employment around Jan. 25, 2014 because he could no longer tolerate the owner's racist comments. Warren Chisolm, who worked for the companies from approximately April 2013 to June 2014, also filed a discrimination charge with EEOC based on the harassment. EEOC's complaint alleges that Chisolm also quit because of the owner's racist comments.
EEOC also seeks damages for a class of current and former black employees who were subjected to the owner's misconduct. The complaint states that many of those victims also quit their jobs with the TNT entities because of the racial harassment.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from allowing a racially hostile work environment to exist in the workplace. EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Rock Hill Division (EEOC v. T-N-T of York County, Inc., and TM Trucking of the Carolinas, LLC, Case No. 0:16-CV-03029-TLW-KDW) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC seeks monetary relief, including back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, for Chisolm, Dunlap, and all other black employees who were subjected to the racial harassment. EEOC also seeks injunctive relief against the companies to prevent future harassment.
Notably, in February 2014, EEOC sued T-N-T of York County, Inc., TM Trucking of the Carolinas, LLC, and other affiliated companies for the sexual harassment of a female employee. EEOC's complaint alleged that the companies' owner - the same person who EEOC alleges is responsible for the racial harassment in the present lawsuit - was the individual who perpetrated the sexual harassment. EEOC settled the lawsuit with a consent decree with those companies, which became effective in March 2016.
"An owner's use of the 'N-word' and other racial slurs in the workplace is of tremendous concern to the Commission because there is no one more senior in the company to whom the offended employees can complain," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "EEOC takes a company owner's disregard for the federally protected rights of the company's employees very seriously and will prosecute cases where this occurs."
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on the agency's website at www.eeoc.gov.