$71,500 Settlement in Racial Harassment and Retaliation Case, Training Ordered

Monday, June 13, 2011

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

A Detroit Lakes, Minn., roofing company has agreed to pay $71,500 to seven black, Hispanic and American Indian employees to settle racial harassment and retaliation charges brought against the company by a former employee, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced.

An investigation by the EEOC’s Minneapolis Area Office revealed that employees were frequently subjected to racial epithets, racial jokes and hostile treatment by other employees at Herzog Roofing, a commercial, industrial and residential roofing company based in a town of 8,000 in northwest Minnesota, the EEOC said. The harassment was largely perpetrated by supervisors and, despite complaints to Herzog senior management, the misconduct did not cease. Following an investigation of the discrimination charge, the EEOC determined that there was reasonable cause to believe the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In addition, the EEOC found that Herzog retaliated against the employee who brought the initial complaint by firing him after he reported the unlawful treatment.

“We are pleased that Herzog worked cooperatively with us to resolve this charge,” said Julie Schmid, acting director of the EEOC’s Minneapolis Area Office. “Herzog now understands that it is not enough for an employer to have an anti-discrimination policy. The employer must enforce the policy and take preventive and corrective action to effectively fulfill its statutory obligation to maintain a workplace free of discrimination, including harassment.”

In addition to paying a total of $71,500 to a class of seven harassment victims, Herzog will provide anti-discrimination training to all of its employees and additional training on harassment and retaliation to all supervisors, managers and owners. Herzog will redistribute its anti-harassment policies and procedures and monitor its supervisors’ compliance with equal employment opportunity laws.

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