Racism in the workplace affects every aspect of the business

by on January 2, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

The ugly face of racial discrimination in the workplace rears its head still

Employer nailed for racism in the workplace

HR can’t tell line managers who to hire or promote. But part of HR’s job is to monitor employment practices across the entire company and watch for discriminatory practices.

The DOL came down hard on the Weyerhaeuser Company because of a pattern of racial discrimination in the workplace at its Bellevue, WA plant. The timber giant agreed to pay a settlement of $255,713 in back pay, interest, salary and benefits to 31 individuals who’d been denied jobs or promotions based on their race. It also agreed to revise its hiring and selection procedures.

Cite: DOL v. Weyerhaeuser.

$600k in a racial discrimination case

Is this the 21st century? We forgot when we looked at the way white workers treated their black colleagues at a Butler, PA steel mill – and the way management turned a blind eye to blatant racial discrimination in the workplace.

According to the EEOC, which arranged a $600,000 settlement of the case, nooses and swastikas were displayed in areas where African-Americans worked. Walls were daubed with graffiti advocating the murder of black people and Ku Klux Klan videos played in employee lounges.

Cite: EEOC v. AK Steel Corp.

Employer settles racial discrimination lawsuit for $50 mil

We may never learn whether it was loose-cannon managers or a racial discrimination in the workplace run amok. But we do know a major retailer is paying a huge settlement because it allegedly didn’t adhere to its own policies and procedures – not to mention the law.

Abercrombie & Fitch settled three separate lawsuits claiming the retailer gave white employees better assignments and better schedules than African-Americans, and that it fostered an “all-white” image.

In addition to paying $50 million, the company hired a VP of diversity.

Hair salon shorn of $3.5 mil in settlement

Before you fire a manager for refusing to go along with a policy he thinks is discriminatory, you’d better check to see if he’s right. Here’s a case where a company failed to do that and got nailed for it.

When a hair salon manager balked at a plan to “balance the platform” by reducing the number of African American employees, he was dismissed. He complained to the EEOC about perceived workplace racial discrimination and an investigation led to a $3.5 million settlement. In addition, the salon promised to implement management training.

Cite: EEOC v. Supercuts.

Racial bias alleged against thousands

Walgreens, the national drugstore chain, routinely stuck African-American managers and pharmacists in black or undesirable neighborhoods, the EEOC claimed in a discrimination suit.

The workplace racial discrimination lawsuit, which the EEOC called its biggest in recent years, alleges thousands of African-American workers were discriminated against. Their assignments in low-performing stores hurt their careers, the EEOC says.

Cite: EEOC v. Walgreens Co.

Teeth-grinding insults cost $100K

A supervisor for an Arkansas power company insulted an African-American employee to the point where he ground his teeth and broke one.

The abusive supervisor ended up costing the company $100,000 in damages, including $80,000 in punitive damages.

The court said the high award was justified because the employee suffered extreme mental anguish and the company was indifferent to the supervisor’s bad, racially motivated behavior.

Remember: To prevail in a racial discrimination in the workplace case involving a supervisor, you must be able to show you corrected bad conduct by the supervisor(s) as soon as you found out about it.

The company here didn’t do that.

Cite: Bowles v. Osmose Utilities Svcs.

Leave a Reply


Request a Free Demo

We'd love to show you how this industry-leading training system can help you develop your team. Please fill out this quick form or give us a call at 877-792-2172 to schedule your one-on-one demo with a Rapid Learning Specialist.