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EEOC pushes effort to root out Hispanic harassment, discrimination

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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. Cases like this one are easy pickings:

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

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

For example, one group of claims going to trial involves several His­­panic workers who allegedly fell asleep on the job and were terminated. Un­­­­for­­tu­­nately for the company, 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. (EEOC v. RJB Prop­­erties, No. 10-C-2001, ND IL, 2012)

Final note: Many of the His­­panic staff had complained about similar treatment. Even a cursory HR investigation could have revealed problems. Quick action may have prevented the suit.

Online resource: A few years ago, several government agencies launched Spanish versions of their websites to reach out to Hispanics. Example: www.eeoc.gov/spanish.

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