Thursday, April 30, 2009

LEGAL BRIEF: Black worker gets $60k settlement for employer's failure to give review and yearly increase

The Legal Brief gives everyone an idea of some of the types of cases that EEOC litigates, provides information on anti-discrimination legal proceedings/court rulings, and identifies some of the specific race-based issues that other Blacks have faced and challenged in the workplace. The Legal Brief also provides insight into the arguments presented by EEOC and the defenses offered by employers. This information may be helpful to workers, who may be considering filing a complaint or seeking legal counsel, as well as to employees who feel they are becoming embroiled in race-related issues at work.

This legal brief is about a Black worker, with outstanding job performance, who was not given a performance review or a yearly salary increase. However, his White coworkers—even a poor performing White worker, who’d received customer complaints—were given reviews and salary increases.

This isn’t shocking. The performance review process and yearly increases are often where you’ll see race discrimination claims cropping up. Someone who can’t control their racial biases will have one heck of a time trying to administer a performance review and merit increase program in an impartial manner. At least this worker was able to get his case settled and to have some changes implemented in the workplace.



EEOC Said Trucking Dealership Denied Pay Increases to Black Diesel Technician

PHILADELPHIA – A Harrisburg, Pa.-based trucking dealership has agreed to pay $60,000 and furnish other relief to settle a race discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency recently announced. The EEOC had charged that Transteck, Inc., doing business as Freightliner of Philadelphia, violated federal civil rights laws when it failed to give salary increases to a black diesel technician because of his race.

The EEOC charged in its lawsuit (Civil Action 08-2490, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania), that Transteck failed to give a pay increase to Winston Jones, because he is African American. Jones, a Philadelphia resident with over 20 years of experience as a diesel technician, began working for Transteck in 2003 at its Levittown facility. The EEOC contended that despite Jones’ stellar job performance, the company failed to give him a salary increase or performance evaluation in 2006. However, the company provided salary increases to several white diesel technicians, including an increase to a white technician who had received numerous write-ups for poor performance, poor work quality or customer complaints. The EEOC charged that Jones, who was consistently ranked among the top technicians at the facility, received no salary increase in 2006 because of his race.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate because of race. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

The five-year consent decree settling the suit, which is pending judicial approval, also contains significant equitable relief, including prohibitions against unlawful discrimination and retaliation, annual anti-discrimination training for all employees, and posting of a notice regarding this settlement.

“The law and common sense require that salary increases should be awarded based on job performance, and not on race,” said EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence. “The agency is satisfied that the resolution of this lawsuit, including the equitable relief and training requirements, should prevent such discrimination from occurring there in the future.”

During Fiscal Year 2008, race discrimination charges soared to a record-high level of 33,937 -- an increase of 11 percent from the prior fiscal year.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at



Anonymous Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for posting this. I'm having the same issue!

4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What can you do if they refuse to train you, or give most of the assignments to white coworkers? In my job (computer support), experience is crucial, yet my supervisor continues to give the more technical assignments to my two (young, white, male) coworkers.

6:34 PM  
Blogger S. Mary Wills said...


If your supervisor refuses to discuss training, are you comfortable going to your department head or to HR to discuss training options, if you haven't already done that? You may have to go around the person presenting the obstacles.

Perhaps you could research trainings in your area and send an email on it. Detail what you would specifically get from the training and how it would specifically correlate to what you're doing or could do at work. Talk about the value for the buck. People want to know the impact/benefit for them--not just you!

If you still get no internal assistance with training, you may need to pay for training out of your own pocket. I've had Black coworkers, in the past, use that option--which they shouldn't have to do.

What is the excuse, if any, given for assigning the younger, White coworkers the most work? Are you being told they have stronger skills, etc.? What is their selling point?

How does their education, training, etc. compare to your background? If they have less or came in with less, but were given more opportunities, you may want to speak to someone in HR. You don't have to put it in a racial context, but can talk about it just as an opportunity issue (more assignments). Let someone else bring up race, so you aren't accused of being a race-baiter.

I think you should keep a log of assignments given to you and these individuals. If you can show that there is unequal treatment and an unfair way of handing out assignments, you start the converstaion in a better place than going into a discussion with nothing but allegations.

11:37 AM  

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