Latinos Bullied Black and White Workers, Held Spanish-Only Safety Meetings, Agency Charged
SAN ANTONIO – E&D Services, Inc., a Mississippi-based drilling company accused of engaging in racial harassment and retaliation against white and black employees at a South Texas work site, has agreed to pay $50,000 to settle a Title VII lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, four employees, three white and one black, experienced racial harassment while assigned to a drilling rig near Mirando City, Texas. The complainants accused the company of not taking steps to address incidents of harassment, including being subjected to racial taunts and mistreatment from Hispanic employees and supervisors working at the remote work site.
The complainants also asserted that their safety was threatened because E&D supervisors conducted safety meetings in Spanish only, and refused to interpret for them in English. White and black employees were told that they needed to learn Spanish because they were in South Texas. The employees said that instead of addressing their complaints of discrimination, E&D fired them.
Racial harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. SA-08-CA-0714-NSN) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
“Racial harassment – by anyone, against anyone, or in any language at the workplace – is wrong and illegal,” said David Rivela, senior trial attorney for the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office. “No one should have to endure such abuse at work in order to earn a paycheck. And employers make a bad situation worse when they fire employees who complain about discrimination rather than addressing the problem.”
In addition to agreeing to pay the aggrieved former employees $50,000, E&D Services also agreed to establish an effective anti-discrimination policy and to provide anti-discrimination training to its employees.
Supervisory Trial Attorney Judith G. Taylor added, “This case is an indicator that racial harassment remains a persistent problem at some job sites. It’s time for employers to be more proactive in preventing and eliminating racist behavior in the workplace. The EEOC intends to make clear that race and color discrimination in the workplace, whether verbal or behavioral, is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
In Fiscal Year 2008, the EEOC received 33,937 charges alleging race-based discrimination, accounting for approximately 36 percent of the agency's private sector caseload. Historically, race-based charges have been the most frequent type of filing with EEOC offices nationwide.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on August 11, 2009.
Return to Home Page