ST. LOUIS - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that Metro Networks Communications, Inc. and its affiliate, Westwood One, Inc., have agreed to pay $150,000 to settle the EEOC's claims that Metro/Westwood racially harassed and then fired its only African-American news and traffic reporter.
The EEOC's suit, [No. 4:02CV974 DJS] in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, alleged that Metro Networks and Westwood One, affiliated media corporations, violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 by subjecting reporter St. Anthony Hicks to racial harassment and terminating him because of his race. The EEOC says the harassment included a management official using racial epithets to insult Hicks and telling him that people of his race are "stupid" and should not be working there.
"This settlement allows me to put the difficulties I had at Metro Networks behind me and get on with my life," said Hicks, who filed a race discrimination charge with EEOC in November 1999. "My hope is that the changes Metro Networks has agreed to will prevent anyone else from going through what I went through."
The EEOC filed suit after investigating the case and exhausting its efforts in conciliation to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement. Hicks is represented by private attorneys Jerome J. Dobson and Gregory A. Rich of Weinhaus, Dobson, Goldberg & Moreland.
Lynn Bruner, Director of the EEOC's St. Louis District Office, said: "Race discrimination is destructive to the victim, the company, and to the values of our society."
Under the terms of the Consent Decree, Westwood One and Metro Networks will pay Hicks and his private attorneys a total of $150,000. The companies also agreed to issue a letter of reprimand to the management official who allegedly engaged in the racial harassment, to put him on probation, and to make him ineligible for pay raises, increases in benefits, transfers to better jobs and promotions for one year.
During the three-year term of the Decree, Westwood One and Metro Networks also will distribute a message to all St. Louis Metro Networks employees stating that the companies will not tolerate race discrimination and that employees who engage in racially discriminatory conduct risk losing their jobs. They have committed to consider how employees deal with equal employment opportunity issues as a part of determining whether any employee is eligible for awards, raises, transfer and promotion opportunities.
Additionally, the companies agreed to provide the St. Louis Metro staff with racial sensitivity training, and to notify the EEOC of any complaints of race discrimination at the St. Louis Metro office during the term of the Decree.
Robert Johnson, EEOC Regional Attorney in St. Louis, noted: "We cannot undo the terrible hurt that racial hatred causes a person. But together with the employer, we can try to compensate its victims and make every effort to prevent it from happening again."
In addition to enforcing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual harassment or pregnancy) or national origin, and protects employees who complain about such offenses from retaliation, and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, the EEOC enforces the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which protects workers age 40 and older from discrimination based on age; the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits gender-based wage discrimination; the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the federal sector; and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments. Further information about the Commission is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.