High cost of ethnic discrimination at work

by on January 14, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Court orders manager to fork over $1 million in ethnic discrimination lawsuit

Here’s more proof that managers can be held personally accountable for ethnic discrimination in the workplace.

In California, two Lebanese-American workers sued FedEx for ethnic discrimination and harassment. The two men said their manager taunted them with racial slurs, calling them “camel jockeys,” “terrorists,” etc.

The jury found that the workers had endured a hostile-work environment. Both men reported the incident to their employer, which didn’t respond effectively. FedEx allegedly failed to put a stop to the harassment or implement anti-discrimination training. The two men collected $61 million dollars for emotional distress.

But here’s the kicker: The court held the manager personally responsible for $1 million of the settlement.

This case serves as a reminder to supervisors that they’re in the hotseat, too, when it comes to ethnic discrimination at work. They can’t assume the company will be the only one to pay, especially if they’re involved in the bad behavior.

Cite: Rizkallah v. FedEx Ground, No. 841208-9, Calif. Super., Alameda County.

$2.8M to settle ethnic discrimination at work claims

A Houston-based company will pay $2.8 million to make an ethnic discrimination lawsuit on behalf of 78 Hispanic employees go away.

The suit claimed Hispanic workers were segregated in departments where pay and conditions were poor, and weren’t allowed to transfer out.

The company didn’t admit any violations, but said it just wanted the six-year legal battle to end.

Cite: EEOC v. Quietflex Manufacturing.
$3 million verdict

Be careful how and where you discharge an employee. A Chinese-American VP for a seafood importer was fired upon his return from a business trip – in a busy airport.

Further, he was given no chance to address the issues surrounding his termination before the importer sent letters to its business associates in which the fired executive’s ethics were questioned.

It smelled fishy so he sued, claiming his boss didn’t trust him because of his ethnic origin. A court agreed. The executive had been given no recourse before being publicly fired and humiliated. And the employer had no documentation to support a legitimate dismissal. The firm paid $3 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

Cite: Zhang v. American Gem Seafoods.

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