- Blog post
Racial Discrimination in the workplace and hostile work environment
Workplace racial discrimination and Hostile Environment
After several white dockworkers teased their African-American counterparts, the blacks complained. But management did nothing to stop what they evidently thought was harmless horseplay.
Emboldened, the white workers stepped up their mistreatment. Before long, the teasing escalated to threatening racist graffiti, cruel pranks and personal-property damage.
The targets of the harassment and workplace racial discrimination finally contacted the EEOC, which looked into their allegations and launched a lawsuit on their behalf.
The employer settled – agreeing to pay 12 workers $2.75 million – before the case went to court.
Cite: EEOC v. Consolidated Freight.
Affinity’ accounts cost first dearly
“Affinity” marketing – using members of an ethnic or national group to handle clients from the same group – may seem a logical business technique. But it can lead to claims of workplace racial discrimination.
Ask Sodexho, the big food services company, which agreed to pay $80 million to settle a class action racial discrimination lawsuit by 3,000 black employees. The employees complained African-Americans were assigned to accounts at places like historically black colleges and universities, and then not promoted outside of those accounts.
Cite: McReynolds v. Sodexho.
Inaction on race discrimination at work costly to company
When a manager sought to promote one African-American and one Hispanic employee – both of whom had worked for the organization for many years and had excellent employment records – he was rebuffed by another manager who preferred to fill the slots with less-experienced white people.
When the first manager complained, an overworked HR department failed to respond. But when others got wind, the first manager was branded a troublemaker. His responsibilities were reduced.
Eventually he quit his job and filed a racial discrimination lawsuit claiming constructive discharge for trying to do the right thing – promoting people based on merit without regard to race or skin color. The court saw it his way, awarding him $1.57 million.
Cite: Maines v. Federal Express.
Workplace racial discrimination costs firm $120,000
After four African-American workers complained to their supervisor about racial harassment, no steps were taken to investigate or resolve the problem.
Emboldened, the white co-workers increased their degrading comments and crass behavior.
The four black workers went to the EEOC, which filed a hostile-work-environment lawsuit on their behalf.
The employer settled, agreeing to pay $120,000 and train its supervisors in laws prohibiting racial harassment.
Cite: EEOC v. Jefferson Smurfit Corp.