A Pennsylvania-based energy-industry staffing firm has agreed to pay $190,000 to a black former employee to settle charges that a foreman harassed and physically abused the man because of his race.
The EEOC had filed charges against Day & Zimmerman the day after the man alleged that a foreman (also employed by the firm) at the Poletti Power Plant in Astoria, Queens, repeatedly told racist jokes, tripped him and even kicked him in the buttocks on one occasion. The foreman joked about racial incidents in the news and predicted that candidate Barack Obama would be shot because the country would never permit a black president.
The man alleged the behavior went on for a year and a half despite his complaints.
Day & Zimmerman finally agreed to a meeting to discuss the complaints—and then fired the man an hour later for an alleged safety violation. That’s when he complained to the EEOC.
In addition to the money, the company agreed to provide training to its managers at the Poletti plant, publicize its hotline for employee complaints and eliminate policies and practices that discourage employees from voicing complaints.
Note: Employers that overlook workplace harassment of any kind are asking for trouble. Provide all supervisors with anti-harassment training that spells out the high cost of race, gender, national origin and disability harassment. Make sure it’s clear that you will not tolerate it.
Investigate all harassment charges quickly and fairly. Ensure that employees understand that they may file legitimate complaints without fear of retaliation.