$500,000 Settlement in Racial Harassment and Discrimination Case, Training Ordered

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Question:  Would racial harassment and discrimination training have prevented this case?  See our trainings at http://www.hrclassroom.com.

RockTenn Services Company, Inc. an Atlanta-based  manufacturing company, will pay $500,000 to 14 employees and provide other  significant relief to settle a racially hostile environment lawsuit.  The consent decree settling the suit, signed today by U.S. Federal District Judge Jane Boyle,  resolves the EEOC's claims against RockTenn.  The EEOC charged RockTenn with subjecting a class of African-American employees to race discrimination. 

According to the EEOC's suit, Case No. 3:10-cv-01960 in U.S.  District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, a class of  African-American employees were subjected to violent, racist graffiti, including  "KKK," swastikas, Confederate flags, "white power" and other racist  terms, including "die, n----r, die."   RockTenn employees also saw hangman's nooses displayed at its Dallas paper mill.  Several employees were referred to  by racist slurs including "n----r."  Michael Scott, who filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC, was a called a "n----r" by his supervisor.  Scott later discovered a noose at his work station.  The EEOC complained that RockTenn officials repeatedly  ignored the complaints of racist graffiti even after it was reported to  management on multiple occasions, including at monthly labor-management  meetings.

The EEOC was set to go to trial on this case before U.S. District  Court for the Northern District of Texas on Dec. 3.  In addition to presenting testimony from the  class of 14 black employees, the EEOC expected to call two white employees of  RockTenn to testify about numerous instances of racist graffiti and racial comments by managers made at the paper mill.

Race discrimination  in the workplace, including race harassment, violates Title  VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The  EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement  through its conciliation process. 

The two-year consent decree settling the case provides for  an injunction against RockTenn that prohibits the company from further discriminating  against any employee or harassing any employee on the basis of race.  RockTenn will pay $500,000 in monetary relief  and will conduct annual anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training.  As part of the decree, RockTenn also agreed to  implement an anti-graffiti policy, which requires the company to conduct  weekly monitoring of its facilities and to also discipline any employee found  to have created graffiti.

According  to company information, Rock-Tenn is one of North America's leading  manufacturers of paperboard, containerboard and consumer and corrugated  packaging.

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