Tuesday, June 09, 2009

LEGAL BRIEF: EEOC Suit Alleges Black Worker Locked in Tool Shed with "Jail" Scrawled on Door and Threatened with Nooses

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 case shows the level of overt racism that some of us still have to deal with in the workplace. There is nothing subtle about what was going on in this Florida case, which included locking a Black worker in a tool shed and spray painting the word “jail” on the door, putting a noose around the same Black worker’s neck, threatening to decapitate that Black worker, and more.

To prove that such overt racism was tolerated and ENCOURAGED, the White worker that is alleged to have done these things was rewarded with a high-paying job.

This type of case makes things more cut and dry because it hits at the old-school methods of intimidation and harassment that our elders dealt with in the past decades and really is indefensible. There would be no business-related reason that would allow nooses to be thrown around the necks of Black workers. There really is no lie you can tell to get around what was done, so long as the incidents can be proven through photos (of nooses, the shed door, etc.), witnesses, emails, formal internal complaints, etc.

To learn more about this case, see below:


EEOC Says Crom Companies Subjected African Americans to Racial Insults, Physical Abuse

MIAMI – The Crom Corporation and Crom Equip­ment Rentals violated federal law when they allowed the racial harassment of black employees, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced on June 3rd . The EEOC also says the Florida-based construction companies unlawfully suspended an African American employee for complaining about severe racial insults, threats and physical abuse.

According to the suit, a white employee at Crom’s Holly Hill, Fla., location locked a black coworker in a tool shed and then spray-painted the shed door with the word “Jail.” The EEOC said that the same white employee also put a hangman’s noose around the black employee’s neck, hung the noose in his work area, and threatened to decapitate him. Another African American employee was offended when he saw the noose hanging at the Holly Hill site. Crom was aware of the harassment but didn’t stop it, according to the suit. Instead, the EEOC said, Crom suspended the black worker after he complained about the noose and rewarded the white offender with a higher-paying position.

“It is shocking and sobering that such cruelty can still occur at an American workplace,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “The EEOC will not falter in its quest to put an end to such injustice.”

Racial harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida (EEOC v. The Crom Corporation, Case No. 1:09-cv-00128-SPM-AK) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

EEOC Miami District Director Jacqueline McNair said, “Even in 2009, nooses still make their way into work environments. The EEOC will vigorously prosecute cases with this sort of workplace terror.”

EEOC Miami Regional Attorney Nora E. Curtin, added, “The nightmarish abuse endured in this case is appalling. The hangman's noose is a haunting symbol of racial hatred and must never be tolerated. Employers must take swift and meaningful action to punish those responsible for such outrageous conduct.”

Crom Corporation and Crom Equipment Rentals sell concrete water tanks and scaffolding and operate throughout Florida and in at least nine other states.

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

Source: http://www.eeoc.gov/press/6-3-09.html


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