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Company Made Black Warehouse Worker Endure Racial Slurs, Agency Charged

DURHAM, N.C. – A North Carolina lumber and hardware retailer will pay $80,000 and furnish other relief to settle a race discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that Talbert subjected a black worker to a racially hostile work environment. Talbert Building Supply operates two locations, including one in Durham, N.C., where the racial harassment occurred.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit (EEOC v. Talbert Building Supply, Inc., in the Middle District of North Carolina, Case No. 1:08CV00707), James McCombs, who worked in Talbert’s warehouse in Durham, was subjected to explicit racial slurs as well as racial jokes and derogatory stereotypes about blacks. The suit said that the harassment occurred almost daily over a period of two years from March 2005 through February 2007.

In addition to the $80,000 in compensatory damages, the three-year consent decree resolving the case includes injunctive relief enjoining Talbert Building Supply from engaging in racial harassment or retaliation and requiring the company to conduct anti-discrimination training; post a notice about the settlement; redistribute its policies prohibiting racial harassment and report certain complaints of harassment to the EEOC for monitoring.

“We are pleased that the EEOC was able to resolve this case of egregious racial harassment,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “The EEOC is committed to the elimination of racial discrimination in the workplace, as evidenced by the prosecution of this case. The Commission reminds employers that racial harassment and discrimination in the workplace is unlawful and cannot be tolerated by employers.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available at its website at