The EEOC has an interesting website that provides a “selected list” of pending and resolved lawsuits brought by the EEOC in which racial harassment is alleged. A review of the following list provides a quick compendium of some of the offensive, vulgar and illegal comments and behavior which the EEOC claims that employees have been subjected to in the workplace.
After reading this list, employers might want to sit down and think about instituting training programs for both managers and employees to instill in them a zero-tolerance attitude with respect to harassment, and to sensitize them as to what is offensive and harassing – and illegal.
The EEOC lawsuits include cases where:
- managers posted racist imagery and then fired an African-American employee after he complained about a dollar bill which had been defaced such that a noose was around the neck of George Washington, whose face had been blackened, taped to a cooler in restaurant. On the dollar bill were swastikas and the image of a man in a Ku Klux Klan hood.
- a supervisor subjected an African-American employee to racially offensive comments such as "coon," "gorilla," "porch monkey," and "n----r." The employee also heard slurs directed at other ethnic groups, including "raghead," "sand n----r" and "wetback."
- since at least 2003, management officials frequently referred to black drivers as "n----rs," East Indian drivers as "Taliban" and "camel jockey," and a Latino manager as "spic."
- a supervisor often kicked an African-American employee in the buttocks and frequently tripped him at work, and made racial comments such as "black folks deserve to get shot", "black folks are good at basketball because they can steal and shoot" and "blacks are the worst people in the world."
- an employee was subjected to slurs including "n----r," "monkey," and "boy," and was confronted by a co-worker with a noose who said "This is for you. Do you want to hang from the family tree?" A general manager also told the employee “We are going coon hunting, are you going to be the coon?"
Pretty grim picture of workplace race relations. Employers have their work cut out for them if they want a harassment-free workplace, and wish to avoid expensive and disastrous lawsuits.