Mount Gilead-based Professional Building Systems will pay 12 black employees $118,000 to settle charges of racial harassment. According to the EEOC, which brokered the agreement, six workers filed the initial complaint and six more experienced the same harassment.
The harassment consisted of demeaning names, racial epithets, racially offensive pictures (such as a Klansman looking down a well at a black man) and nooses hanging in the workplace. (See “EEOC charges Mount Gilead modular builder with race bias” in the November 2009 issue of North Carolina Employment Law.)
In addition to paying the wronged employees, the company must conduct annual racial harassment training, and must refer all complaints of racial harassment directly to the EEOC.
Note: Professional Building Systems ran into trouble because even after employees complained about harassment, no one ever investigated or tried to stop the behavior. In fact, one of the harassers was a manager.
The law requires employers to provide a harassment-free workplace. Looking the other way while employees are harassed is simply not an option.