Thursday, May 14, 2009


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 home-builder assigning Black agents to work in neighborhoods based on the racial make-up of the surrounding community. Meaning, they weren’t assigned to work in neighborhoods where homes had a higher price value. Thus, this race-based discrimination hit these agents squarely in the pocketbook.

I worked for an employer who allowed researchers to be assigned to projects strictly based on race. So, Black researchers could only conduct research with Black participants/subjects. Hispanics could conduct surveys on Hispanics. Whites, however, were allowed to conduct research with ALL racial groups. This allowed them to work on more projects and on more high profile projects.

Employers aren’t allowed to discriminate against workers by allowing them to only work with those who are “like them.”

Tolerance and head-turning allow discrimination to thrive. What's great about this legal brief is that the case came to light because a White HR Representative resigned because she refused to discriminate in this manner. She filed a complaint about her employer's actions. If more people would behave with the values we preach, as a society, we might be able to more quickly eradicate discirminatory behavior.

Here are the specifics:


Home Builder Unlawfully Assigned Sales Agents by Race, Federal Agency Charges

ATLANTA – John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods, Inc., an Atlanta-based home builder, unlawfully engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against black sales agents, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed in April.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Wieland intentionally assigned African American sales agents to housing communities based on the race of the surrounding community. The lawsuit charges that these practices resulted in black agents earning significantly less than their white counterparts, who were assigned to housing communities where they sold higher-priced homes.

The EEOC began investigating the employer when a white human resources represent­ative filed a discrimination charge with the agency stating that she was forced to participate in the discriminatory practice or face termination. Michelle Mouser served as a Wieland human resource representative in Atlanta and was responsible for recruiting sales agents to work onsite at new housing commu­nities that were under construction. The company’s management responsible for such hiring expressly stated that the goal was to hire and assign employees whose race corresponded with the predominant population of each community. Therefore Mouser was told that she could not hire qualified African American sales agents for communities with pre­dominantly Caucasian populations.

When Mouser complained about the company’s discriminatory practices to management officials, no action was taken. Because management failed to act and Mouser could not partici­pate in the illegal hiring practices, she felt forced to resign.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Case Number 1:09-CV-1151 filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods, Inc. develops land and builds cluster homes, town homes, and upscale single-family homes in the metropolitan areas of Atlanta, Ga., Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C., Louisville, Ky., and Nashville, Tenn. Wieland also provides remodeling and land­scaping services and offers mortgage lending to its customers.

The EEOC is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for Mouser. The agency is also seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the affected African American sales agents for the period beginning in 2003. The lawsuit also seeks injunctive relief designed to stop the discrimination and prevent it from recurring in the future.

“Race discrimination is still an insidious but prevalent form of discrimination,” said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “All employees are entitled to a workplace free of racial discrimination. More importantly, all individuals, regardless of their race, have the right to the same employment opportunities. No one should be pigeonholed into particular job assignments based solely on race. This lawsuit demonstrates that the EEOC takes such forms of discrimination seriously.”

In Fiscal Year 2008, the EEOC received 33,937 charges alleging race-based discrimin­ation, accounting for 36 percent of the agency's private-sector caseload. Historically, race-based charges have been the most frequent type of filing with EEOC offices nationwide.

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


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