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Company’s Plant Manager Harassed and Forced Out Hispanic Employees, Federal Agency Says

PORTLAND, Ore. – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced that it has resolved its national origin discrimination lawsuit brought against Supreme Corporation and Supreme Northwest LLC for $427,000 and other relief.

The EEOC had charged the Indiana-based automotive manufacturer harassed and subjected seven employees at its Woodburn, Ore., facility to disparate treatment (demotion, discriminatory termination, and/or involuntary resignation) by the plant manager because of their national original, Hispanic/Mexican. The EEOC’s suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Supreme Corporation and Supreme Northwest LLC, CV 07-1047 MO).

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.

As part of the settlement of the EEOC’s claims, Supreme Northwest agreed to pay $427,000; review its discrimination, harassment and retaliation policies; train its managers, supervisors and employees about prohibited harassment, discrimination and retaliation under Title VII; and provide information to the EEOC concerning its handling of harassment, discrimination and retaliation complaints for a period of three years.

“I believe the lesson learned is that treating all employees fairly and in conformity with the law is the best way to avoid litigation,” said EEOC Regional Attorney William Tamayo.

One of the charging parties, Adriana Ortiz said, “I was really angry and offended at how the Hispanic workers were treated. The company would not listen to us and I thought no one would help us until we filed a claim with the federal government.”

Supreme Corporation is a manufacturer of truck bodies, including dry freight and insulated bodies, cutaway and parcel delivery vans, stake bodies and buses. Supreme is based in Indiana; however, in early 2004, the company opened a production facility, Supreme Northwest, LLC, in Woodburn Ore., to service the Northwest truck body market. Supreme also has production facilities in California, Georgia, and Texas, and employs approximately 2,000 employees. About 100 of these employees are located in the Woodburn facility, where the violations occurred. The discrimination victims were hired to work as cleaners, general laborers on the production line, and quality control inspectors.

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