Managers Ignored Complaints and Fired Non-Hispanic for Speaking Out, Federal Agency Charges
DALLAS — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced today that it has filed suit against DHL Global Forwarding for subjecting a class of Hispanic employees to national origin discrimination. The EEOC’s suit also alleges that DHL Global unlawfully retaliated against a non-Hispanic employee by firing him for reporting the treatment of Hispanic employees.
The suit alleges that Hispanic employees at DHL’s Dallas warehouse were constantly subjected to taunts and derogatory names such as “wetback”, “beaner,” “stupid Mexican” and “Puerto Rican b---h”. According to the EEOC, Hispanic workers, who included persons of Mexican, Salvadoran and Puerto Rican heritage, were often ridiculed by DHL personnel with demeaning slurs which included referring to the Salvadoran worker as a “salvatrucha,” a term referring to a gangster. Other workers were identified with derogatory stereotypes by being told they should be outside the facility “mowing the grass” or that their “homies” were on a television show about prison. The EEOC further asserts that harsh admonitions to bilingual employees about use of their Spanish language were motivated by prejudice, unnecessary and unrelated to the effective performance of the job duties.
DHL Global officials ignored the complaints of employees even after the discriminatory conduct was reported to management. The suit also alleges that DHL retaliated against Troy Petty, a union steward, by terminating his employment after he reported the mistreatment of Hispanic employees to DHL officials on several occasions.
National origin discrimination in the workplace, including national origin harassment, and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 3:11- CV-02581-L) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks injunctive relief, including the formulation of policies to prevent and correct national origin discrimination and retaliation. The suit also seeks lost wages for Petty and compensatory damages and punitive damages for all the victims of DHL Global’s unlawful practices, including both actions and inactions that resulted in harm.
“What these company personnel want to explain away as just ‘joking,’ the EEOC has found to be mean-spirited bullying and unlawful conduct that violates the federally protected rights of these people,” said Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Dallas District Office. “In a state with a Hispanic population of almost 38 percent, the work force is likely going to be diverse and multicultural. DHL would have been better served by focusing on a delivery to its own warehouse of a message that promotes inclusion and mutual respect -- that’s just good business.”
EEOC Trial Attorney Joel Clark added, “DHL permitted management officials to harass and treat these employees differently for no other reason than because of their national origin. Worse yet, when confronted repeatedly about the discrimination, DHL responded by firing the union steward who simply tried to promote a healthy work environment by informing the company about the problem. This approach by the company displays a reckless disregard for fundamental fairness and federal law.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.