The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



EEOC Settles Suit Charging Company With Creating Racially Hostile Workplace

SALISBURY, N.C. – The owners of a Lexington, N.C., furniture store will pay $80,000 and furnish significant injunctive relief to settle a race harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Oppor­tunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC had brought the suit against Stanleytown, Va.-based Stanley Furniture Company, Inc. on behalf of black production workers Johnny Wright, Darlene Dickerson and Elease Griffin, who were subjected to a racially hostile work environment at the Lexington store (which is no longer operational). According to the EEOC, at various times between 2004 and August 2006, the three were subjected to racial harassment in the form of racial slurs directed at them. The racial slurs included references to African Americans as “monkeys,” statements that blacks should “go back and see [their] ancestors in the jungle,” and name-calling, including the use of the “N-word.” The EEOC said that Stanley Furniture was aware of the racial harassment and took no action to stop or prevent it.

Racial harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

In addition to $80,000 in monetary damages to be split among the harassment victims, the consent decree resolving the case (EEOC v. Stanley Furniture Company, Inc., Case No. 1:08CV00695), filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, Salisbury Division. includes injunctive relief enjoining the company from discriminating on the basis of race, or any other protected category, or engaging in retaliation within the meaning of Title VII. The decree also requires the redistribution of its anti-discrimination policy, anti-discrimination training and reports to the EEOC.

“Although Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits race discrimination, was passed 45 years ago, racial harassment and other forms of race discrimination continue to exist in our nation’s workplaces,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the federal agency’s Charlotte District office. “As part of this agency’s mission, the Charlotte District Office of the EEOC will continue to take all steps necessary to eliminate this type of unlawful conduct.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available at its website at

This page was last modified on July 21, 2009.

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