The EEOC has sued copier company Ricoh on behalf of three former employees—two Hispanics and one man of African origin. The suit alleges the three endured almost daily racial epithets and race-based harassment at the company’s Greensboro location.
James Nyema-Davies, a black Liberian, Anibal Melendez, a Puerto Rican, and Gustavo Tovar, a Colombian, all claim to have been regularly ridiculed by their supervisor who used phrases like “f——-g Africans ain’t worth s—t,” “Hispanics are so stupid” and “Colombians are good for nothing but drugs.”
According to the complaint, the three complained individually and collectively to, but the company took no action to stop the harassment.
The flashpoint came near the end of October 2009 when the three suggested they might file a lawsuit. The company first suspended them and then discharged them.
The EEOC seeks back pay and punitive damages for the workers.
Take all harassment complaints at face value—as unproven charges that are nonetheless worthy of an unbiased investigation. Each complaint deserves a professional, prompt and fair inquiry. And if you learn that supervisors are guilty of harassment, discipline them.