Workplace harassment and civil rights, comply or pay

Last week, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced the settlement of a race and national origin harassment lawsuit for $1.9 million against Allied Aviation Services, Inc. The lawsuit was on behalf of African American and Hispanic workers who were targets of racial slurs, graffiti, cartoons, and hangman’s nooses at a the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport. Read the full press release.

According to the EEOC’s charges, African American and Hispanic employees of Allied were verbally harassed in a racially hostile work environment on a daily basis. The harassment included racial graffiti, clearly visible on fuel tanks, employee restrooms and written on aircrafts. A manager kept an offensive cartoon, belittling a Hispanic worker, under glass on their desk for months. In addition to those offenses, an employee in a mixed race marriage was subjected to racial abuse.

“It is appalling that racial harassment remains a persistent problem at some job sites across the country in the 21st century, more than 40 years after passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act,” said EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp. “Employers must be more vigilant and make clear that race discrimination, whether verbal or behavioral, has no place in the contemporary workplace.”

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act bans discrimination in any aspect of employment because of a person’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It covers employers with fifteen or more employees, but many states have comparable laws covering companies with fewer employees.

In “Workplace Danger: Harassment,” the rules regarding Title VII are explained further along with ways to stop harassment now in your workplace.

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