Moving Supply Chain Subjected Black Employees to Racial Slurs and Fired Employees for Complaining, Federal Agency Charged
MEMPHIS - U-Haul has agreed to pay $750,000 to eight African-American current and former employees and to provide other relief to settle a race and retaliation discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC's suit against U-Haul International Inc., and U-Haul Company of Tennessee, black employees were subjected to racial slurs and other racially offensive comments by their white supervisor, Shop Manager Patrick Chapman, at U-Haul's Lamar Avenue facility in Memphis. The EEOC's complaint charged that Shop Manager Chapman regularly referred to black employees with the "N" word and other derogatory slurs. The suit further alleged that the company engaged in retaliation by firing one employee when complaints of racial harassment were made to Chapman and Marketing Company President Carol George.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 2:11-cv-02844) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Western Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Besides the $750,000 in monetary relief, the two-year consent decree resolving the case enjoins U-Haul from discriminating against its employees because of their race and from retaliating against workers who assert their rights under Title VII in the future. The decree requires U-Haul Company of Tennessee to maintain an anti-discrimination policy prohibiting race discrimination, racial harassment, and retaliation, and to provide mandatory training to all employees regarding the policy. Under the decree, current Marketing Company President Carol George will receive additional training on race discrimination and on obligations to report race discrimination, racial harassment, and retaliation. Finally, the company will provide written reports to the EEOC regarding any race discrimination or racial harassment complaints by employees.
"We are pleased that we were able to settle this suit," said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez. "This is the EEOC's latest case in our ongoing efforts to eradicate racial harassment from the workplace. Employers must take prompt and effective action when complaints are made, and must remember that retaliation against a complaining employee is illegal."
Regional Attorney Faye A. Williams of the EEOC's Memphis District, which includes Tennessee, Arkansas, and 17 counties in Northern Mississippi, said, "As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, this case serves as a reminder of the important role the EEOC continues to play in eliminating racial harassment in the workplace for many minorities. Employees shouldn't have to endure harassment and abuse to support their families. We commend U-Haul for agreeing to policies and procedures to protect its employees in the workplace."
According to company information, U-Haul is a national moving supply rental company based in Phoenix, Ariz. U-Haul provides its customers with rental moving vans and trailers for use in moving household goods. It also offers its customers various tools to complete their move, including boxes of various sizes, tape packing materials and storage facilities.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.