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Press Release 03-18-2020

Prewett Enterprises / Desoto Marine to Pay Quarter Million to Settle EEOC Race Harassment Lawsuit

Family-Owned Rail Services and Disaster Response Companies Continuously Subjected Black Employees to Racially Hostile Work Environment, Federal Agency Charged

OXFORD, Miss. - Prewett Enterprises, Inc., doing business as B&P Enterprises, and Desoto Marine, LLC, rail services and disaster response companies,will pay $250,000 and furnish other relief to settle a race harassment case brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Prewett and Desoto supervisors and managers subjected African American employees to daily harassment and humiliation because of their race by calling them racially offensive and derogatory names. The lawsuit further alleged that Prewett and Desoto assigned black employees the more dangerous job duties.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Prewett Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a B&P Enterprises, and Desoto Marine,LLC, Civil Action No. 3:18-cv-213) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi at Oxford after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation pro­cess.

Under the two-year consent decree settling the suit and entered by the court, the parties agreed that defendants will pay $250,000 to the former employees; revise their anti-racial harassment policies; create an 800 hotline number for employees to report complaints about discrimination, harassment and retaliation; and conduct exit interviews of employees who leave the company. The decree also mandates training of employees and the reporting of any future complaints of race harassment to the EEOC.

"It is critical that employees know whom to contact to register complaints about discrimination, and employers must train their supervisors and managers to be responsive to those complaints," said Faye Williams, regional attorney in the EEOC's Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas,

Tennessee and portions of Mississippi. "We are pleased that Prewett and Desoto agreed to put measures in place to address these issues."  

EEOC Memphis District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas added, "A business cannot operate optimally when its workplace is racially hostile. Employers are responsible for creating policies that prevent and address racial harassment."

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at  Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.