Friday, July 30, 2010

Here's How An Employer Can Stop Harassment...

If you are the victim of racially-based or other harassment at work, your employer’s hands are not tied regarding effectively handling the situation in a manner that is likely to prevent your mistreatment from occurring again. Your employer has many options available to deter and stop harassment, regardless of the impression that those in authority (supervisors, Human Resources staff, etc.) may provide you.

When it comes to claims of racially-based harassment, companies do not like to respond—even though providing an adequate response to illegal behavior is in their best interest. Instead of squashing the careers of those who would harass a coworker or subordinate, many companies go into denial mode, which they believe offers some form of protection. In other words, if they didn’t know or “believe” that harassment was taking place, companies fool themselves into believing they are not legally liable for any damage that may have occurred to an employee’s career. But, deniability doesn’t automatically hold up under the law.

A company is legally responsible for preventing and stopping harassment from occurring. If you believe you are the victim of harassment (including retaliation and experiencing a hostile work environment), you should document everything that is occurring. You must show proof as to why your company must take action.

What can your employer do (or should be doing) to your harasser? Here are some options offered by EEOC regarding harassment in the workplace:

-- oral or writing warnings/reprimands
-- transfer or reassignment
-- demotion
-- salary cut
-- suspension
-- termination
-- training or counseling of harasser
-- monitoring the harasser to ensure that harassment stops

As you can see there are light and hard-hitting remedies available. It’s your job to know that these options are available to deal with harassment and to suggest some stringent form of punishment is doled out to your abuser. But, you have to prove your case or your company will sleepwalk through your entire ordeal. Document mistreatment, provide the names of witnesses who can verify your accounts and save harassing email and voicemail as proof that your abuser has gone overboard. Then, demand action is taken.

NOTE: Your employer cannot force you to transfer to another department to avoid your harasser. But, you can volunteer to move to another department if it is in the best interest of your career and/or mental health.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


People sometimes laugh at so-called conspiracy theories. "Oh, they're not out to get you," they'll say. Or, they'll say, "No one sits around and plots these things."

But, people do scheme and plot--even when it comes to discriminating against people. Yes, they sit around drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes, while figuring out how to execute their agenda.

In this legal brief, a temp agency did willfully agree with orders to engage in discrimination by race, sex, Hispanic origin, AND age. For more details, see below:


Area Temps Agrees to Pay $650,000 for Profiling Applicants by Race, Sex, National Origin and Age

Temporary Agency Complied With Discriminatory Placement Requests,
Fired Employees Who Opposed Unlawful Practices, EEOC Alleged

CLEVELAND – Area Temps, a Northeast Ohio temporary agency, agreed to pay $650,000 to resolve a class discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced yesterday.

The EEOC charged in its lawsuit (1:07-cv-02964) that the temporary agency violated federal law by considering and assigning (or declining) job applicants by race, sex, Hispanic national origin, and age. The EEOC also alleged Area Temps unlawfully complied with discriminatory requests made by its clients based on race, sex, national origin and age, and unlawfully fired two of its employees in retaliation for their opposition to Area Temps’ discriminatory practices and for one employee’s participation in the EEOC’s investigation.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin both by employers and placement agencies, and protects employees who complain about or oppose such discrimination from retaliation. It also violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibits discrimination based on age against people 40 years of age or older.

The three-year consent decree settling the suit, in addition to monetary relief, requires the company to post a notice of resolution regarding this lawsuit, visible to employees. The company must also provide a notice-of-resolution letter to all applicants, management and selecting officials and to outside clients on the obligations of the company under federal anti-discrimination laws, as well as Area Temps’ commitment to abide by such laws.

“The EEOC is pleased that Area Temps joined with the agency to negotiate a fair settlement resolving this matter,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Maryland and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. “The equitable relief provided by the consent decree will benefit many temporary or contingent workers in the future.”

In Fiscal Year 2009, the EEOC received 93,277 charges in the agency’s private sector caseload.The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Was in the Hospital

Sorry for missing some posts but I had a brief stint in the hospital. Better now, but still trying to figure out what's going on. Anyway...

By way of a post for today, I have an update on a previous post where I discussed two Black workers, who were facing termination at my job. One worker was fighting on his own, with silent manager support--but no one willing to put themselves on the line for him. The other worker had a manager actively fighting for him and the manager was doing more to keep the employee on staff than the employee was doing to save his own job.

The final result, the solo worker was indeed fired and the worker with management support was indeed retained--job safe and starting from scratch.

I'll say it again, having someone, even one person, willing to back you can go a long way to keeping your job when any sort of trouble pops up at work. But, having a manager support you can make the most difference. When a manager isn't the problem, for instance you have a harassing coworker, a manager can set things straight, can be a character witness for you with higher-ups, can argue your case, and can be a strong influence on the end result.

We need more managers and workers to be vocal, when there is wrongdoing or a simple lack of fairness in the workplace. Managers are paid the big bucks to deal with all sorts of issues, so they shouldn't act like shrinking violets, when the time comes to make a decision or do the right thing. Even if an employee has been singlged out by higher-ups for termination, suspension or whatever, if a manager feels that this isn't justified by circumstances, shouldn't they speak up? If not, what is their purpose?

In the case at my job, management support made all the difference in who was fired and who wasn't.

So, here's my advice--and I've written it before--try to build positive relationships at work. Not just with coworkers, but with managers. And, not just the managers in your department. Try to get to know managers throughout the company. Be friendly. If opportunities to work on different teams come up, volunteer to work with other staff. Spread your wings. You don't know which person at work can be the one to make a difference in a critical situation.

Work smart. As the old saying goes, it's not what you know, it's who you know!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It's Not Always About the Salary!

Workplace harassment is defined by law as behavior that, while offensive, is extremely serious because it changes the conditions of your employment or creates a hostile work environment. In regard to the law, for something to change the conditions of your employment, the “something” must be a tangible employment action. A tangible employment action is any significant change in your employment status. It’s an action that has a negative impact on your work environment, job function or career.

A tangible employment action is not simply someone making a threat or giving you lip service. So, if someone’s telling you they’re going to meet you in the parking lot, next to your car, at 3 o’clock—that’s just not going to cut it. Now, if they show up and attack you, then that would be assault. A tangible employment would be:

--a demotion;
--a suspension;
--being stripped of your staff;
--being denied a promotion with no basis;
--receiving a pay cut under false pretenses;
--being transferred to a menial job;
--being transferred to a remote location or being transferred to a hard to reach location (making it difficult to get to and from work) or being isolated from other staff; or
--being subjected to a hostile work environment that is so offensive and persistent that you can’t perform your job.

Some employers try to get all Slick Willie with these actions. So, sometimes they won’t take away an employee’s salary or benefits. Then, they’ll argue that there isn’t a really significant change in job status/no significant penalty. But, that argument doesn’t fly because tangible employment actions aren’t considered based on whether or not an employee retains the same salary or benefits. So, if there is a significant and negative change to your job—even with the retention of pay and benefits—you can argue that you were hit with a tangible employment action.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, tangible employment actions:

--occur when a supervisor uses the official powers of the company to take action(s) against an employee;
--are official acts of the company;
--are often documented in company records;
--often have the official approval of the company and its internal processes;
--often cause financial harm; and
--generally, can only be caused by a supervisor or other agent of your company, since a coworker just doesn’t have the power to bring about a significant, negative change in another employee’s employment status or job responsibilities.

So, if you feel you are the wrongful victim of a tangible employment action, PREPARE TO FIGHT BACK!

Tip #1: Maintain a record of any memos or emails you receive that are meant to justify the tangible employment action (e.g., corrective action notice, written warnings, etc.);

Tip #2: Be able to produce your salary history, by maintaining a record of your income with your employer. Show any decrease in pay. Maintain a record of any memos or emails that are meant to justify a salary decrease.

Tip #3: Check the personnel manual! Before such extremes actions were taken against you, check to see if your employer is following its own policies and procedures. If not, point out any violations that may exist.

Tip #4: Find out about past history! Have other employees engaged in the same behavior that you were accused of engaging in or of having the same performance deficiencies that you were accused of having? If so, what happened to those people? Does it differ from actions taken against you? If so, and the consequences for other employees was nonexistent or very minor, you may be able to claim disparate and unequal treatment by your employer.

Tip #5: Keep pushing your side of the story! Don’t let HR or your employer ignore your version of the facts. Document everything, including every relevant conversation you’ve had with HR staff and authorities at your job. List any contradictions in what they say about policies and justifications for the actions. Provide witness statements to support you (e.g., character references or eye witness accounts of events, etc.) and request that HR check with these individuals to confirm your story.

Tip #6: File a grievance or request an internal investigation! Don’t let tangible employment actions slide. If you believe a manager is acting on racist whims by stripping you of your staff or cutting your pay, ask for HR to investigate the matter! It’s your career, fight for it! If the company doesn’t find in your favor, appeal the decision!

Tip #7: Seek legal counsel! Don’t be afraid to consult an attorney in response to a fraudulent tangible employment action.

Tip #8: Remember that your company will usually do everything in its powers to make it appear that the tangible employment action was warranted. This will be their justification for why no violations of Federal law occurred. It is your job to show that the arguments presented by your employer are nothing but pretexts used to hide their true motivations, which might be harassment, discrimination or retaliation. By keeping a log of events that transpired, keeping hard copies of memos, emails, and other documentation that supports your case, and by tracking comments made and actions taken by your supervisor, Human Resources, and corporate management, you can begin to demonstrate that their defense is dishonest and solely meant to cover up the violation of your employee rights. Focus on why their defense is untruthful! That is the burden placed on complainants!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Facts About Retaliation

According to the EEOC: An employer may not fire, demote, harass or otherwise "retaliate" against an individual for filing a charge of discrimination, participating in a discrimination proceeding, or otherwise opposing discrimination. The same laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, and disability, as well as wage differences between men and women performing substantially equal work, also prohibit retaliation against individuals who oppose unlawful discrimination or participate in an employment discrimination proceeding.

In addition to the protections against retaliation that are included in all of the laws enforced by EEOC, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also protects individuals from coercion, intimidation, threat, harassment, or interference in their exercise of their own rights or their encouragement of someone else's exercise of rights granted by the ADA.

There are three main terms that are used to describe retaliation. Retaliation occurs when an employer, employment agency, or labor organization takes an adverse action against a covered individual because he or she engaged in a protected activity. These three terms are described below.

Adverse Action

An adverse action is an action taken to try to keep someone from opposing a discriminatory practice, or from participating in an employment discrimination proceeding. Examples of adverse actions include employment actions such as termination, refusal to hire, and denial of promotion, other actions affecting employment such as threats, unjustified negative evaluations, unjustified negative references, or increased surveillance, and any other action such as an assault or unfounded civil or criminal charges that are likely to deter reasonable people from pursuing their rights.

Adverse actions do not include petty slights and annoyances, such as stray negative comments in an otherwise positive or neutral evaluation, "snubbing" a colleague, or negative comments that are justified by an employee's poor work performance or history.

Even if the prior protected activity alleged wrongdoing by a different employer, retaliatory adverse actions are unlawful. For example, it is unlawful for a worker's current employer to retaliate against him for pursuing an EEO charge against a former employer.

Of course, employees are not excused from continuing to perform their jobs or follow their company's legitimate workplace rules just because they have filed a complaint with the EEOC or opposed discrimination.

Covered Individuals

Covered individuals are people who have opposed unlawful practices, participated in proceedings, or requested accommodations related to employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability. Individuals who have a close association with someone who has engaged in such protected activity also are covered individuals. For example, it is illegal to terminate an employee because his spouse participated in employment discrimination litigation.

Individuals who have brought attention to violations of law other than employment discrimination are NOT covered individuals for purposes of anti-discrimination retaliation laws. For example,"whistleblowers" who raise ethical, financial, or other concerns unrelated to employment discrimination are not protected by the EEOC enforced laws.

Protected Activity

Protected activity includes opposition to a practice believed to be unlawful discrimination (opposition is informing an employer that you believe that he/she is engaging in prohibited discrimination and opposition is protected from retaliation as long as it is based on a reasonable, good-faith belief that the complained of practice violates anti-discrimination law).

Examples of protected opposition include complaining to anyone about alleged discrimination against oneself or others, threatening to file a charge of discrimination, picketing in opposition to discrimination, or refusing to obey an order reasonably believed to be discriminatory.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Circumstantial Evidence

According to the EEOC, the most common method of proving that retaliation was the reason for an adverse action is through circumstantial evidence. A violation is established if there is circumstantial evidence:

1) raising an inference of retaliation - Because you don't have direct evidence you have to show the implications of your evidence by building a thorough case against your employer and its arguments/positions;

2) if your employer fails to produce evidence of a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for the challenged action (firing, demotions, suspension, transfer to a hard to reach location, being stripped of assignments, harassment, retaliation, etc.) - Are your employer's reasons for its actions against you plausible/believable? You have to focus on exposing their lies and destroying their cover story; or

3) if the reason advanced by the employer is a pretext to hide the retaliatory motive - You can show pretext by demonstrating that your employer treated you differently than similarly situated employees (similar jobs/titles, location/job site, job levels/classification, etc.).

Also consider that an initial inference of retaliation arises where there is proof that the protected activity and the adverse action were related. Typically, the link is demonstrated by evidence that:

-- the adverse action occurred shortly after the protected activity; and

-- the person who undertook the adverse action was aware of the complainant's protected activity (opposing discrimination, participating in an investigation, etc.) before taking the action.

So, if you file a complaint against your employer, internally or externally, alleging discriminatory practices, retaliation, etc. and you suddenly become targeted with adverse actions like increased surveillance and heightened scrutiny, unjustified negative performance evaluations, denial of a promotion, etc., you should link the timing of filing your complaint with the timing of a quick response by your employer that included adverse actions. Point out that those engaged in executing the performance action knew of your complaint/oppostion to discriminatory practices.

Even if your employer waits to execute adverse actions, you can still prove retaliation, etc. through other circumstantial evidence.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's Nice When Someone Fights for You!

I've got a couple of young, Black men facing termination at work under "suspicious" circumstances. It's not that neither of these men hasn't brought corporate attention to themselves based on their behavior. For instance, chronic latenesses and carelessness with carrying out their duties. However, both these men are getting nudged over the edge by management. Instead of waiting for the final screw-up, these guys are just being ushered out under less than legit circumstances.

One of the guys is fighting his own battle, although he does have silent support from a couple of managers--the very same managers who were asked to fire him! The other guy has a manager actively fighting to keep him employed because a legitimate accident is being used to terminate him.

And, this is really how it happens all the time. But, I'll tell you, I'd rather be the worker with a manager fighting for me as opposed to the one being told by managers not to stop fighting, while doing nothing to help him.

Management support can be the real difference in keeping your job. The worker with a manager fighting for him is still working and being paid while the investigation is taking place.

The worker, fighting alone, was sent home weeks ago, and must try to get back into the workplace--all without pay!!

The point of this post is to remind everyone to form alliances at work. You never know who will bail on you in your time of need, if it ever comes, but you also never know who might support you.

Try to be a positive worker and you are more likely to receive some level of support, even if it's minimal. But, you may be surprised that someone will put themselves on the line to fight for you.

So, speak to different managers and establish positive relationships. It can't hurt and it may save your career one day!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

LEGAL BRIEF: Silgan Containers Required to Pay $45,000 to Settle EEOC Race Discrimination Suit

The Legal Brief gives everyone an idea of some of the types of cases that EEOC litigates, as well as an idea about the specific race-based issues that other Blacks have faced and challenged in the workplace. Readers may also gain 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.


North America’s Largest Metal Food Can Supplier Fired Man Because of Race, Federal Agency Charged

CHICAGO – Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corporation, the largest manufacturer of metal food containers in North America, will pay $45,000 to settle a race discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced July 2nd. The EEOC filed the lawsuit against Silgan on behalf of an African-American man who suffered alleged discriminatory treatment that resulted in his termination from Silgan’s Oconomowoc, Wis., facility.

In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that Silgan violated federal civil rights law by intentionally delaying the hiring of Romardro Henderson and then firing him because of his race. According to the EEOC, after Henderson was finally hired, his immediate supervisor – who no longer works for Silgan – subjected Henderson to disparate and discriminatory treatment such as holding him to a higher standard on his work than non-black employees. Finally, the EEOC charged, Silgan fired Henderson for racial reasons after less than one month on the job.

Race discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit, EEOC v. Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corporation, No. 09-C-782, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court through its conciliation process.

U.S. Magistrate Judge William E. Callahan entered the consent decree resolving the lawsuit on July 1, 2010. In addition to providing monetary compensation to Henderson, the two-year decree resolving the lawsuit requires Silgan to notify the EEOC of any complaints of discrimination at its Oconomowoc plant for the next two years. Silgan must report to the EEOC information about its hiring practices at the Oconomowoc facility for the duration of the decree. The company must also train its managers, supervisors and human resources employees in Oconomowoc about their responsibilities under Title VII.

“This case demonstrates that racial discrimination in the American workplace is a serious and ongoing concern,” said John Rowe, EEOC district director in Chicago. “Employment discrimination has a devastating effect on workers. Fortunately, we were able to alleviate that effect in this instance because Mr. Henderson took action on his own behalf by filing a charge with the EEOC.”

EEOC Regional Attorney John Hendrickson said, “Once the EEOC filed its lawsuit and the trial team began to litigate this case, Silgan was quick to determine that accepting a meaningful settlement resolution was its best option. The consent decree entered by the court will help to ensure that all Silgan’s employees enjoy equal access to employment opportunities.”

The government’s litigation effort was led by EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Gregory M. Gochanour and Trial Attorney Bradley S. Fiorito.

According to its website, Silgan is the largest manufacturer of metal food containers in North America, with net sales of $1.92 billion in 2009 and over 30 manufacturing facilities nationwide. Silgan is owned by Silgan Containers Corporation, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Silgan Holdings Inc. of Stamford, Conn.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at


Monday, July 12, 2010

What If A Coworker Is the Problem?

Some workplace harassment is not perpetrated by someone in a position of authority over an employee. Instead, the harassment may be carried out by an employee’s coworker(s) or some other "non-employer." When this type of harassment takes place, it is often common knowledge among staff.

Although we’d like to think that someone with the audacity to harass or bully a coworker would do so out of sight of other employees, often other staff will witness or overhear the harassment. Let’s not forget, one of the best parts of harassment, from the perpetrator’s point of view, is the public humiliation (among staff) that the victim must suffer through. Embarrassing the victim is a huge payoff for people who engage in this behavior. It’s the humiliation that will help to isolate the target of the harassment and that may help persuade the victim to transfer to another department or resign from their job.

Just because an employee is not being harassed by someone in authority doesn’t mean that employers aren’t liable for any damage caused by the mistreatment. So, if you’re being harassed by someone senior to you (with no authority over you), someone who’s the same level as you or even by someone that is junior to you, your employer may still be liable for damage to your career, etc.

In the decision for Faragher, 118 S. Ct. at 2289 the Supreme Court said, “When harassment is perpetrated by the plaintiff’s coworkers, an employer will be liable if the plaintiff demonstrates that ‘the employer either provided no reasonable avenue for complaint [you didn’t have a way to complain of mistreatment] or knew of the harassment but did nothing about it.’”

On top of that, the EEOC states that an employer is liable for harassment by a co-worker or non-employer if management knew or should have known of the misconduct, unless the employer can show that it took immediate and appropriate corrective action.

So, if your coworker (or any workplace “non-employer”) is harassing you, your employer may be liable for punitive and/or other damages if they knew or should have known about your mistreatment because it was so prevalent and out-in-open in your workplace, but they did nothing about it!

If your employer did take the right and immediate corrective actions against the person harassing you (e.g., transferring the perpetrator, firing the perpetrator, etc.), you may not be able to convince the court that your employer is liable for any damages.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Questions that Will Come Up About Your Workplace Complaint

Here's a sampling of some the questions you will have to answer, during an internal or external investigation.

PLEASE NOTE: If your company is trying to cover-up what really happened to you, HR will likely have far fewer questions for you. An external investigation should be extremely detailed and thorough. Now for the questions:

--What specifically happened?

--Who's involved?

--What comments were made?

--How did you respond?

--Did anyone witness what happened?

--What day and time did this occur?

--Was this a one-time incident?

-- If not, how many times did this happen? (Describe each situation)

--Is it still continuing? If so, what was the most recent incident?

Tangible employment actions are any actions taken by employers or their agents that impact hiring, firing, promotions, transfers, disability etc. If you think you're the victim of a tangible employment impact, you really need to be specific about what's going on.

--Describe the impact. (State the professional and personal consequences that occurred as a result of the actions taken against you)

--Describe how certain actions led to you being denied a promotion or terminated from your job, etc.

--Are you now being subjected to an offensive work environment marked by intimidation, harassment, bullying, disparate/unequal treatment, etc.? If so, describe these conditions.

--How did you respond to the situation?

--Who did you speak to/report the incident to? List dates, times, and responses.

--What specifically did you tell them? Describe fully—this will help you keep track of what authority figures knew and when they knew it.

--Did you correspond with your superiors or Human Resources in writing? If so, list names, dates of correspondence, and responses.

(Note: If you participate in face-to-face meetings, you should always follow-up the meetings with a quick email in order to create an undeniable record of what transpired.)

--Did you address the individual who is the perpetrator of this incident? What was their response? Did you come to a solution?

--Who are your witnesses? List their names, titles, and the dates of incidences they observed.

--Who else has been harassed, etc. by this person? List their names and any information that is available regarding their harassment, including dates or the approximate time frame of the mistreatment and illegal activities.

--Does the perpetrator have any outstanding complaints against him/her? List specifics, if available.

--How would you like to resolve this issue?

--What would you like to happen? (Your dream scenario)

--What is the minimum that you would find as an acceptable solution to resolve the problem? For instance, you may only want an apology from the perpetrator or you may want an apology, restitution of your salary, and the perpetrator to be placed in training that is appropriate for the offense they committed (e.g., diversity training).

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

LEGAL BRIEF: EEOC Announces $100k Settlement for Racial Harassment & Retaliation Lawsuit

The Legal Brief gives everyone an idea of some of the types of cases that EEOC litigates, as well as an idea about the specific race-based issues that other Blacks have faced and challenged in the workplace. Readers may also gain 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.


Cullman Company To Pay $100,000 To Settle EEOC Race Discrimination Lawsuit

Racially Hostile Work Environment Offends Black and White Employees at McGriff’s Truck Facility

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – McGriff Industries, Inc. and its subsidiary McGriff Transportation, Inc., which operated a truck transportation facility in Cullman, Ala., will pay $100,000 and furnish other relief to settle a racial harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced on July 7th.

According to the EEOC, certain employees and managers in the Cullman facility routinely used racially derogatory comments, slurs, and insults directed at or about African-Americans. The racial misconduct escalated to threats and intimidation, including a derogatory threat to cut one of the black employees. White and black employees were offended by the racial misconduct, but were rebuffed and retaliated against -- one employee was terminated and another had his work assignments changed -- when they complained.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from employment discrimination because of their race, sex, religion or national origin and from retaliation for complaining about it. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama Northeastern Division (Civil Action 5:09-CV-01952-IPJ) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.

The settlement, by consent decree entered by the court on June 22, 2010, provides for a total payment of $100,000 to Todd A. Roseborough, Sr., Paul Hogan and Aaron Greenwood. The decree also includes injunctive terms applicable to each of McGriff’s offices, facilities and retail establishments in the state of Alabama. Among other requirements, McGriff must develop and implement effective anti-discrimination policies and procedures, and train its employees, supervisors and managers on the prohibitions against racial misconduct in the workplace. The company will develop a system for reporting, investigating and addressing complaints of workplace racial misconduct; hold all employees accountable for engaging in it; and hold supervisors and managers accountable for tolerating or failing to address such misconduct.

“This case is important because no employee should be subject to racism in the workplace and every employee can be offended by a racially hostile work environment,” said EEOC Birmingham District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas. “We are pleased that McGriff's senior management is now taking an active role in promoting compliance with federal civil rights law.”

EEOC Birmingham District Office Regional Attorney C. Emanuel Smith added, “The Commission will continue to litigate cases involving allegations of a racially hostile work environment. We encourage employers to be proactive and responsive to employee complaints about workplace derogatory conduct or comments.”

The EEOC’s Birmingham District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Alabama, Mississippi and Northern Florida, with Area Offices in Jackson, Miss., and Mobile, Ala.

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


Thursday, July 01, 2010

Sick: New Posts Starting Monday

Sorry for not posting, but I was traveling and I've been under the weather. Still sick. Will have new posts starting Monday. Have a great and safe holiday weekend.

Toshiba Computers
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