The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

PRESS RELEASE
9-16-09

NPMG TO PAY $415,000 TO SETTLE EEOC SUIT FOR RACIAL HARASSMENT OF AFRICAN AMERICAN WORKERS

Credit Card Company Subjected Blacks to Racial Slurs and Insults, Agency Charged

 

PHOENIX – NPMG Acquisition Sub, LLC, a Phoenix credit card processing company, will pay $415,000 and furnish significant remedial relief to settle a race harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that NPMG subjected a group of African American workers to racial slurs and epithets.

In its lawsuit (EEOC v. NPMG, Acquisition Sub, LLC., CV 08-01790-PHX-SRB), the EEOC charged that two supervisors at NPMG created and perpetuated a racially hostile work environment against black employees. The racially hostile workplace allegedly included severe verbal abuse consisting of numerous racial slurs and epithets. The EEOC’s suit was filed on behalf of three African American discrimination victims and a class of nine similarly aggrieved employees.

“It was unbelievable, the things they said,” said Michael Buckner, one of the discrimination victims. "My supervisors often referred to my fellow African-American employees and me as ‘n-----rs’ and ‘porch monkeys’ and forced us to play so-called ‘Civil War games’ where employees were divided into North and South. They also referred to black children or mixed-race children as ‘porch monkeys’ or ‘Oreo babies.’ On several occasions, I was told to turn off my ‘jigaboo music.’”

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.

“For those who may assume racism in the workplace no longer exists, this case and many others like it nationwide tell a far different story,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “Unfortunately, race discrimination and harassment are anything but past history in too many contemporary workplaces – more than four decades after passage of Title VII of the landmark Civil Rights Act.”

In addition to the monetary relief, the consent decree provides for extensive remedial relief, including a written apology to the victims on company letterhead; anti-discrimination training; written anti-discrimination policies; discipline of discriminatory conduct and the posting of notices.

EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill of the Phoenix District Office added, “The racial slurs used in this case, and tolerated by management at NPMG, are disgusting and outrageous. These same supervisors were involved in a prior case the EEOC filed against NPMG, and these same supervisors were permitted by NPMG to continue their discriminatory practices and torment minorities in the workplace.”

The EEOC settled a prior national origin discrimination case against NPMG in April 2008 for $62,000.

Acting EEOC Phoenix District Director Rayford O. Irvin said, “No employer should ever allow supervisors to engage in continuous racial abuse of any employees, as was the case at NPMG. The EEOC applauds these brave individuals who stepped forward to challenge NPMG’s racially charged work environment.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.


This page was last modified on September 16, 2009.

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