EEOC Says African American Electrician Subjected to ‘N-Word’ and Threats of Lynching at Worksites Across the Country
HONOLULU -- The U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced a major settlement of a race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest military contractor, for $2,500,000 and other relief on behalf of an African American electrician who was subjected to a racially hostile work environment at several job sites nationwide – including threats of lynching and the “N-word.”
The monetary relief for former Lockheed employee Charles Daniels is the largest amount ever obtained by the EEOC for a single person in a race discrimination case, and one of the largest amounts recovered for an individual in any litigation settlement by the agency. Additionally, the Bethesda, Md.-based company agreed to terminate the harassers and make significant policy changes to address any future discrimination, the EEOC said at a press conference in Hawaii.
The EEOC’s suit, filed in August 2005, alleged that Daniels was subjected to severe racial harassment while working on military aircrafts as part of a field service team in Jacksonville, Fla., Whidbey Island, Wash., and Oah’u, Hawaii. The EEOC charged that Daniels was the target of persistent verbal abuse by coworkers and a supervisor whose racial slurs and offensive language included calling him the “N-word” and saying “we should do to blacks what Hitler did to the Jews” and “if the South had won then this would be a better country.” Daniels was also subjected to multiple physical threats, such as lynching and other death threats after he reported the harassment. Despite its legal obligations, Lockheed failed to discipline the harassers and instead allowed the discrimination against Daniels to continue unabated – even though the company was aware of the unlawful conduct.
Commenting on the settlement, Daniels said: “As an armed forces veteran who swore to defend the rights and interest of Americans around the globe, I find it sad that the U.S. government had to sue its largest defense contractor Lockheed Martin -- whose slogan is ‘We never forget who we’re working for’ -- to protect my rights here at home!”
Daniels added, “I am pleased that we stood up for justice, because it should help all hard-working Americans of every race and gender to know that we have rights and protections guaranteed under the laws of this nation.”
EEOC Regional Attorney William Tamayo said, “This is a very good resolution because Lockheed Martin agreed to terminate and permanently bar Daniel’s harassers from employment. It sends a powerful message that racism cannot and must not be tolerated.”
Raymond Cheung, the EEOC attorney who led the government’s litigation effort, added, “To combat the harassment and threats faced by Mr. Daniels is at the heart of why the EEOC was created. Despite concerns of retaliation, this man had the courage to stand up and make public what happened to him, in an effort to ensure that it would not happen to anyone else. It has been a once-in-a-lifetime honor to work on this case.”
The litigation and consent decree were filed by the EEOC under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in the U.S. Court for the District of Hawaii (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Lockheed Martin, CV-05-00479).
EEOC Honolulu Local Office Director Timothy Riera praised the agency’s lead investigator in the case, Gloria Gervacio, and said: “The overt harassment to which Mr. Daniels was subjected in Hawaii represents some of the most severe misconduct this office has come across. It is imperative that employers here take proactive measures to ensure that discrimination complaints are taken seriously and that all employees work in an environment free of harassment.”
Racial harassment charge filings with EEOC offices nationwide have more than doubled since the early 1990s from 3,075 in Fiscal Year 1991 to approximately 7,000 in FY 2007 (based on preliminary year-end data). Additionally, race remains the most frequently alleged basis of discrimination in charges brought to the EEOC, accounting for about 36% of the agency’s private sector caseload.
On Feb. 28, 2007, EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp launched the Commission's E-RACE Initiative (Eradicating Racism And Colorism from Employment), a national outreach, education, and enforcement campaign focusing on new and emerging race and color issues in the 21st century workplace. Further information about the E-RACE Initiative is available on the EEOC’s web site at http://www.eeoc.gov/initiatives/e-race/index.html
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age and disability. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at http://www.eeoc.gov.