Koper Furniture Harassed Employee Because of Dark Color and Fired Him for Complaining, Federal Agency Charged
SAN JUAN, P.R. – Koper Furniture violated federal law when it permitted a store manager to harass a dark-complexioned Puerto Rican employee because of his skin color and fired him for complaining, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
Koper operates several furniture stores throughout Puerto Rico. According to the EEOC’s suit, EEOC v. Koper Furniture, Inc., Case No. 09-1563 (JAG), filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, the store manager, who is also Puerto Rican, taunted the sales associate about his dark skin color and asked him why he was “so black.” The EEOC says Koper retaliated against the sales associate by firing him after he complained about the harassment.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
“Federal law protects people from race and color discrimination in the workplace,” said Jacqueline H. McNair, district director of the EEOC’s Miami District Office. “Just as importantly, the law also protects those who complain to protect their federal rights to protest against discrimination. The Commission takes allegations of retaliation very seriously, and has brought this suit to ensure the integrity of exercising these rights.”
The EEOC’s Miami regional attorney, Nora E. Curtin, added, “Harassment based on skin color can be just as humiliating and degrading as other forms of discrimination. Employers must treat colorism complaints seriously and punish the perpetrators – not the victims.”
The EEOC has noticed a substantial increase over the past 15 years in discrimination charge filings based on color.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on June 22, 2009.
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