On January 2, 2008, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a $2.5 million settlement of a race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest military contractor. This relief is the largest amount that the EEOC has ever obtained on behalf of one person in a race discrimination case. The litigation was filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in the U.S. Court for the District of Hawaii (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Lockheed Martin, CV-05-00479).
The EEOC suit, which was filed in August 2005, alleged that Charles Daniels, an African American electrician for Lockheed Martin, was subjected to severe racial harassment while working on military aircraft as part of a field service team in Florida, Washington, and Hawaii. The suit alleges that Daniels was the target of persistent verbal abuse by coworkers and a supervisor, including racial slurs and the “N-word”. He was also subjected to physical threats such as lynching and other death threats after he reported the harassment. Even though Lockheed Martin was aware of the conduct, the company failed to discipline the harassers and allowed the discrimination to continue.
According to Frank Del Barto, a member of the Firm’s Employment and Labor Group, the above case is a reminder to all employers to take racial discrimination, harassment and all forms of retaliation very seriously. Employers should review their employment polices and handbooks to ensure that harassment is clearly defined and confidential reporting procedures are in place. To avoid or limit liability, Frank states that employers must investigate and remedy complaints situations as soon as possible.