Minority Truck Drivers Subjected to Racial Harassment and Discrimination, Federal Agency Charged
LOS ANGELES - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced that SDS Fontana Holdings, Inc., which formerly did business as Scully Distribution Services, will pay $630,000 to settle an EEOC lawsuit which alleged widespread harassment and discrimination against a class of African-American, Latino and East Indian workers, mostly truck drivers, in Northern and Southern California.
In its lawsuit, the EEOC said that since at least 2003, management officials and employees at Scully referred to black drivers as "n----rs," East Indian drivers as "Taliban" and "camel jockey," and a Latino manager as "s--c." In addition to the harassment, the EEOC charged that non-white drivers were given less favorable assignments than their counterparts.
Harassment, discrimination and retaliation based on race, national origin and perceived religion violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Eastern Division (EEOC v. Scully Distribution Services, Inc. and Ryder System, Inc., Case No. CV11-8090 CAS [SPx]) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC's complaint also identified Miami-based Ryder System as a successor entity by virtue of its 2011 purchase of Scully, but did not assert any direct violations of Title VII against that entity.
The EEOC and the defendants ultimately entered into a consent decree, which requires the designation of an EEO monitor to ensure compliance with Title VII and the terms of the decree. The decree also provides for the implementation and continued maintenance of a policy and complaint procedure to address discrimination, harassment and retaliation, as well as extensive annual anti-discrimination training for managers and drivers of the client accounts formerly operated by Scully. The EEOC will monitor compliance and future complaints of discrimination based on race, national origin and religion throughout the duration of the decree.
"This case is the Commission's latest effort to combat unlawful racial and religious harassment," said David Lopez, general counsel for the EEOC. "The EEOC will continue to prosecute these egregious cases nationwide in accordance with our mission to eradicate discrimination in the workplace."
Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC's Los Angeles District Office, said, "A hostile work environment involving offensive slurs and epithets is not acceptable in any work force, including one mostly comprised of truck drivers. The EEOC is pleased that the parties were able to bring this case to an early resolution that will benefit the former Scully employees who were subjected to this type of hostility based on their race, religion or national origin."
Olophius Perry, district director for the EEOC's Los Angeles District Office, added, "The actions of company managers dictate the culture of an entire workplace. Widespread discrimination and harassment can result from the actions of a few managers who either directly harass minority worker, or knowingly allow others to do so. Employers should be vigilant in ensuring that the message of equal employment opportunity permeates from the top down."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov, with a list of selected cases related to racial harassment at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/litigation/selected/racial_harassment_11-14.cfm.