High-end retailer Nordstrom has settled an EEOC lawsuit alleging it allowed harassment of Hispanic and black employees at its Palm Beach Gardens and Wellington stores.
The EEOC charged that a department manager said she “hated Hispanics” and that they were “lazy” and “ignorant.” In addition, Hispanic tailors claimed the manager harassed them for speaking in Spanish.
Hispanics apparently weren’t the only targets of the manager’s prejudice and ire. She also allegedly said she didn’t like blacks and told one employee, “You’re black, you stink.”
The employees said they complained, but the department store didn’t stop the harassment.
Under the terms of the settlement, 10 former employees will share in the $292,000 settlement.
Nordstrom will make sure all employees have a copy of its anti-discrimination policy, provide harassment training and post a notice explaining the lawsuit and the settlement. It will also regularly report back to the EEOC on its progress.
Final note: Having an anti-harassment policy isn’t enough. You must enforce it and act quickly when you get complaints. Investigate every complaint and fix the problem as soon as possible. Provide several avenues for employee complaints. If you have a significant population of employees with poor English language skills, provide a way for them to come forward in their native or preferred language.
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