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PRESS RELEASE
9-21-17

EEOC Sues Driven Fence for Race Harassment

Melrose Park Company Created a Hostile Work Environment, Including a Noose Display, Federal Agency Charges

CHICAGO - Driven Fence, a Melrose Park fence installation company, created a hostile work environment consisting of racial epithets and the hanging of a noose, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to Julianne Bowman, the EEOC's district director in Chicago, the EEOC's pre-suit administrative investigation revealed that a black employee was repeatedly subjected to racial slurs and comments and other offensive conduct, including the noose display. Although the company was aware that racial harassment was occurring, it took no action to stop it, Bowman explained.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination, including harassment, on the basis of race. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case, EEOC v. Driven Fence, Inc., Civil Action No. 17-cv-6817, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and was assigned to U.S. District Judge Manish S. Shah. The government's litigation effort will be led by Trial Attorneys Jeanne Szromba and Miles Shultz and supervised by EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Diane Smason.

"More than 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is not only illegal but unacceptable that employees are faced with the choice of working in the presence of a noose or not working," said Bowman. "The EEOC will continue to vigorously investigate and enforce the law to make sure employees do not face this choice."

Greg Gochanour, the EEOC's regional attorney in Chicago, said, "As soon as an employer becomes aware of any kind of discriminatory harassment in the workplace, the employer must act - and promptly. That is the law, and the EEOC will hold employers accountable if they don't live up to that responsibility."

The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.