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PRESS RELEASE
8-21-15

EEOC Sues King-Lar Company for National Origin and Color Harassment

HVAC and Roofing Company Managers Alleged to Have Witnessed Offensive Language and Received Complaints But Did Nothing

CHICAGO - King-Lar Company violated federal civil rights laws by failing to stop the harassment of a Puerto Rican employee while he worked for the Decatur-based company, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit filed yesterday.

EEOC alleges that foremen and co-workers harassed a worker because of his national origin and color by referring to him as "spic," "n_____," "Mexican n______," "wetback," "Puerto Rican n______," and "n______ slave."

According to Julianne Bowman, the EEOC's district director in Chicago, the EEOC's pre-suit administrative investigation revealed the company was aware of the harassment because managers witnessed some of the offensive comments and the employee complained to management, but the company did nothing to stop the harassment.

Harassment based on color or national origin violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case, EEOC v. King-Lar, Co, Civil Action No. 3:15-cv-03238, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, Springfield Division, and was assigned to U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough. The government's litigation effort will be led by Trial Attorneys Laura Feldman and Jeanne Szromba, and supervised by EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Diane Smason and Chicago District Regional Attorney John Hendrickson.

Hendrickson said, "We take allegations of widespread use of the term 'wetback' and endless variations on the 'n-word' seriously. It's worse when our investigations reveal that employers have direct knowledge through their own managers who stand by and let the abuse continue day after day, month after month. This behavior is indefensible and in violation of federal law. No one should have to take this sort of verbal abuse just to do his job."

EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and conducting agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with area offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.