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EEOC pushes forward on Hispanic-bias cases

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

When the EEOC declared it was starting an enforcement effort aimed at protecting Hispanic ­workers from harassment and discrimination, smart employers promptly looked at their organizations and corrected any problems.

Those that didn’t are now paying the price. The EEOC has begun building cases.

Recent case: The EEOC sued RJB Properties and related entities over the way a manager allegedly abused Hispanic janitorial workers in the Chicago area. Now a federal judge has ordered a trial for an EEOC lawsuit filed on behalf of the workers.

The problems center on a manager who appears to dislike Hispanics in general and allegedly favors black employees over Hispanics. Testimony in the case included claims the manager frequently used slurs like “wetback,” “bean eaters” and worse. In meetings, she was said to have openly stated she wanted to get rid of the Hispanics working for the company.

For example, one group of claims going to trial involves several His­­panics who allegedly fell asleep on the job and were terminated. Un­­for­­tu­­nately for RJB Properties, several supervisors testified that the manager had urged them to find ways to get rid of Hispanic workers, including falsely accusing them of sleeping at work.

Another case involves a His­­panic woman who claimed harassment on account of her race. Her im­­mediate supervisor was so concerned, she allegedly told the woman to lock up her purse be­­cause the manager had threatened to plant drugs on her to get her fired. When she asked why the manager would do such a thing, the supervisor explained that the manager wanted His­­panics gone. (EEOC v. RJB Prop­­erties, No. 10-C-2001, ND IL, 2012)

Final note: Many of the His­­panic workers had complained about their treatment. Even a cursory HR investigation should have revealed problems. Quick action might have prevented the lawsuit.

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