Foreman Called Black Employee a Slave, Told Racist Jokes, Then Had Him Fired When He Attempted to Complain, Federal Agency Charges
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Recreational Ventures, Inc. doing business as Court One, a North Carolina corporation that builds tennis courts and other recreational court surfaces, violated federal law when it subjected a black employee to a racially hostile work environment and then fired him when he tried to complain about the harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's complaint, in June 2017, Sammy Johnson worked as a laborer at Court One in Granite Quarry, N.C. The EEOC said that two employees of Court One, a foreman and a coworker of Johnson's, created a hostile work environment for him. Among other things, they referred to Johnson as a slave, called him "boy," told racist jokes, and played "alerts" over the facility's loudspeaker and in the company truck which falsely warned of mass shootings of blacks. On June 27, Johnson told the foreman that he was going to report the harassment to the branch manager. The foreman met with the branch manager before Johnson complained. Court One fired Johnson the next day. The EEOC further charged that Court One failed to post federally required employee notices regarding equal employment opportunity laws.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from allowing a racially hostile work environment to exist in the workplace and from taking retaliatory actions against employees who complain about such misconduct. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina (EEOC v. Recreational Ventures, Inc d/b/a Court One, Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-00806) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.
"All workers have the right to work in an environment free from harassment," said Kara G. Haden, acting regional attorney for EEOC's Charlotte District. "No one should have to put up with racist and derogatory comments while at work."
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.