A federal jury has awarded two former employees of Concord trucking firm A.C. Widenhouse more than $243,000 in compensatory and punitive damages. The EEOC had filed the suit on behalf of two black employees who complained of pervasive bigotry and harassment at work.
One alleged that from May 2007 to June 2008, he had been bombarded with a host of racially derogatory epithets in the workplace.
The comments and slurs included “n****r,” “monkey” and “boy.” The man testified that on one occasion a co-worker approached him with a noose and said, “This is for you. Do you want to hang from the family tree?”
He testified that white employees asked him if he wanted to be the “coon” in their “coon hunt.”
The other man’s experience was similar. When he was hired in 2005, he was the company’s only black employee. The general manager told him he was their “token” black employee, and warned him he might “find a noose with his name on it.”
He complained of the harassment to various company officials, but it continued. Ultimately, the company fired the man, an act the jury ruled was in retaliation for his complaints.
In addition to paying the men, the court also issued a three-year injunction against A.C. Widenhouse that requires the company to:
- Implement a written policy against discrimination and harassment
- Conduct training on Title VII for all employees and all owners involved in the company’s operations
- Post the anti-harassment policy and a notice to employees regarding the lawsuit
- Provide the EEOC with periodic reports regarding complaints about racial harassment.
- Remedy for discrimination can include neutral references and contact reporting
- Careful how often you suggest retirement
- Help managers understand the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
- 'He said, she said': Train staff in workplace conflict resolution
- Investigate harassment even if employee complains belatedly