Real Estate Management Company Fired Employees After Complaining About Harassment, Federal Agency Charges
GREENVILLE, S.C. - DHD Ventures Management Company, Inc., a New York-based real estate management company, violated federal law when it subjected two black employees to a racially hostile work environment, then terminated them in retaliation for their complaints of discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a lawsuit filed yesterday.
According to the EEOC's complaint, from late 2007 through November 2011, Charles Lesine and Marlin Ware worked at Grandeagle Apartments, a residential complex in Greenville, S.C., that was managed by DHD Ventures Management Company. During that period, they were subjected to racial harassment, including continuous racial slurs made by a coworker. The complaint alleges Lesine and Ware were called "n***r" or "nigga" on a near-daily basis by the coworker. Although Lesine and Ware made multiple complaints to the coworker and to management, the racial epithets continued. The agency says the men were terminated in November 2011 due to their complaints.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits racial harassment in the workplace and protects employees who oppose racial harassment and race discrimination. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Greenville Division (EEOC v. DHD Ventures Management Company, Inc., et. al, Case No. 6:15-cv-00102-TMC-KFM) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks monetary relief, including back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief for Lesine and Ware.
"Companies must take prompt action to stop harassment in response to complaints of racial slurs being used in the workplace," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "Firing the complaining employee because of his or her complaint is never the correct response and is a violation of federal law."
DHD Ventures Management Company, Inc. operated as an integrated business enterprise with DHD Ventures NC, LLC and DHD Ventures, LLC.
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.