Class of Blacks Subjected to Noose Display and Racial Slurs, Federal Agency Charged
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Ready Mix USA, a major cement and concrete products company, will pay $400,000 and furnish other relief to settle a lawsuit for racial harassment filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC charged in its lawsuit that a class of African American males at Ready Mix’s Montgomery-area facilities was subjected to a racially hostile work environment. The EEOC said that a noose was displayed in the worksite, that derogatory racial language, including references to the Ku Klux Klan, was used by a direct supervisor and manager and that race-based name calling occurred. Ready Mix denies that racial harassment occurred at its worksites.
Racial discrimination and harassment violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit against Ready Mix USA LLC, doing business as Couch Ready Mix USA LLC (EEOC v. Ready Mix USA 2:09-CV-923) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The consent decree settling the suit provides that Ready Mix will pay a total of $400,000 in compensatory damages to be apportioned among the seven class members. Each party will bear its own litigation costs and attorneys’ fees. The two-year decree enjoins Ready Mix from engaging in further racial harassment or retaliation and requires that the company conduct EEO training. Ready Mix will be required to modify its policies to ensure that racial harassment is prohibited and a system for investigation of complaints is in place. The company must also report certain complaints of harassment or retaliation to the EEOC for monitoring.
“Employees have a right to expect that harassment based on race will be kept out of the workplace,” said Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director for the EEOC Birmingham District. “This case involved not only racist language, but a noose, a threatening symbol of cruelty that has no place in any American workplace.”
EEOC Birmingham District Regional Attorney C. Emanuel Smith said, “We are pleased that Ready Mix has taken these steps to address this very alarming situation and improve its work environment. We encourage all employers to help make workplace race discrimination a thing of the past.”
According to company information, Ready Mix provides cement and concrete products to construction projects in industrial, commercial, residential and municipal projects.
In Fiscal Year 2011, the EEOC received 35,395 charges alleging race-based discrimination and 8776 of those alleged race-based harassment. Historically, race-based charges account for more than 35% of all charge filings nationwide.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.