LEGAL BRIEF: "Old N*%...Hurry Up and Die!"
Former General Manager Jay Walsh Regularly Insulted and Mistreated African-Americans, Federal Agency Charges
CLEVELAND – Ganley Lincoln of Bedford, Inc., an auto dealership in Bedford, Ohio, will pay $300,000 to four African-Americans to settle a racial harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced on April 20th.
In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that Jay Walsh, Ganley’s general manager at the time, routinely used derogatory terms to refer to blacks, customers as well as employees, including the epithet “n----r.” Walsh, in referring to an older African-American employee, wished the “old n----r ... would hurry up and die.” Further, the agency charged, Walsh utilized a compensation system that disadvantaged black salespeople with regard to sales opportunities and commissions.
Racial discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit, No. 1:07cv2829, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the monetary relief, the two-year consent decree settling the suit provides for training on employee rights and employer obligations under Title VII, as well as supervisor accountability with regard to racial discrimination. The decree also requires Ganley to post a notice to employees about the lawsuit that provides the EEOC’s contact information.
“Racial harassment is utterly unacceptable and illegal,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence. “It demeans the entire workplace as well as the direct victims. This settlement – both the monetary relief and the training -- will help ensure that African-Americans at this company will never have to face such abuse again.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.