Black and African Workers at Fish Market Were Routinely Abused by Owners, Federal Agency Charged
NEW YORK – M. Slavin & Sons, Ltd., doing business as M. Slavin & Sons Fish, a retail and wholesale fish market, will pay $900,000 and furnish other relief to settle an employment discrimination suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that the company created a hostile work environment for over 30 black and African male loaders and drivers, including physical and verbal sexual harassment, offensive comments based on race and national origin, and retaliation against those who took part in the case.
The EEOC’s suit, CV 09-5330, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, charged that M. Slavin’s owners and managers harassed the employees from 1984 onward by physically groping them, making explicit sexual comments and using offensive racial terms such as “n----r” and “African b-----d.” Many of the men worked for M. Slavin for 10 to 20 years and endured this treatment because they desperately needed the work. The suit originated from a discrimination charge by Kevin Pierson, a truck loader for Slavin, who reported such abuse. The EEOC’s investigation subsequently disclosed that the misconduct was widespread and involved many victims.
The business recently moved its production to its Hunts Point, Bronx location, but the harassment occurred at the employer’s Brooklyn location.
The lawsuit was resolved by a consent decree which will be executed by Judge Jack B. Weinstein. In addition to the monetary relief, M. Slavin must revamp how it addresses discriminatory harassment and retaliation and submit to 5years of monitoring by the EEOC. Under the decree M. Slavin is ordered to:
“Thanks to Kevin Pierson’s EEOC charge and this lawsuit, employees at M. Slavin will now be able to work in an environment free from discrimination,” said Sunu P. Chandy, a senior trial attorney in the EEOC's New York District Office. “If an incident does occur, there will be an objective investigation into these complaints. The EEOC is grateful to all individuals who stepped forward, despite their fears of retaliation, to assist us in the prosecution of this matter.”
Elizabeth Grossman, regional attorney in the EEOC’s New York District Office, added, “It is especially difficult to fashion effective relief when harassment is conducted by owners of the company. Under this consent decree M. Slavin is obligated to bring on board an outside professional who will bring much needed oversight. The EEOC will also closely monitor M. Slavin to ensure an end to the racial and sexual harassment of workers at this company.”
The EEOC is the federal government agency responsible for enforcing anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. Further information about the EEOC is available at www.eeoc.gov.