Auto Detailer Fired Black Employees Due to Policy of 'Sprinkling a Little Salt' Into Workforce, Federal Agency Charges
OKLAHOMA CITY - A Midwest City, Okla., auto detailing company, On Sight K.C., LLC, dba DMS Onsite, LLC, violated federal employment discrimination law by demoting one employee and firing three others because they were African-American, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to EEOC's suit, Douglas Williams, who is black, was the manager of On Sight's detailing crew at Joe Cooper Ford in Midwest City. In February 2012, On Sight's area manager told Williams that On Sight wanted to "sprinkle a little salt" at the Joe Cooper Ford worksite, which, he explained, meant that black employees working there should be fired and replaced with whites and "Mexicans." On Sight then demoted Williams and replaced him. Williams' replacement, who is Hispanic, told employees that he had been instructed to "fire all the blacks" and replace them with whites and "Mexicans." Within a few days, the replacement manager fired three black employees and hired two white employees. Three months later, On Sight hired another Hispanic employee.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race. Williams reported On Sight's conduct to EEOC. After the agency began its investigation, On Sight dissolved its business and reorganized, at least in part, because of the EEOC charges, to evade liability under Title VII. After completing its investigation and attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process, EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma (EEOC v. On Site Solutions, LLC, Dealership Management Services, Inc., and DMS-OK, Inc., Civil Case No. 5:15-cv-01066-L) against three companies that took over On Sight's business operations. The three corporations share a combination of owners, employees, and clients from the original On Sight.
Through its suit, the EEOC seeks to end any continuation of On Sight's discriminatory employment practices by its successors and obtain reinstatement, back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the individuals who were fired or demoted because of their race.
"After decades of civil rights law enforcement, racism remains a persistent problem," said EEOC St. Louis District Director James R. Neely, Jr. "Regardless of an employer's personal beliefs, or the preferences of their clients, they may not make employment decisions based on race."
EEOC Regional Attorney Andrea G. Baran added, "It is incredible that employers still discriminate against African-Americans over 50 years after the enactment of Title VII made it illegal - and then attempt to hide behind a corporate shell game. We will take every action necessary to eradicate race discrimination in employment and will not let a sham corporate reshuffling defeat justice."
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The St. Louis District Office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and a portion of southern Illinois. Further information about the EEOC
is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.