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Employee Wrongfully Fired For Complaining About Racial Discrimination EEOC Lawsuit Charges

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For more than two decades, our Marion County, Florida wrongful termination attorneys have represented Florida employees who have been retaliated against for exercising their employee rights. In far too many cases, our Ocala, Florida wrongful termination lawyers have learned, employers, punish employees who complain about discrimination in the workplace. Instead of taking corrective action to remedy their discriminatory employment practices, employers often terminate employment discrimination victims who exercise their employee rights by complaining about workplace discrimination. In this article, our Marion County, Florida wrongful termination attorneys explain how a retaliation lawsuit recently filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) illustrates that federal employment discrimination law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who complain about discrimination in the workplace.

Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

In a press release issued on September 30, 2021, the EEOC announced that it has filed a racial harassment and retaliation lawsuit against Skils’kin (Skils’kin). On September 27, 2021, the EEOC filed the racial harassment and retaliation lawsuit, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Skils’kin, Case No. 2:21-cv-185, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming after initially seeking to remedy the alleged unlawful retaliatory discharge through its statutorily required conciliation process. The EEOC commenced the racial harassment and retaliation lawsuit pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) on behalf of a former employee of Skils’kin, an African-American man named Wheels (Wheels). The EEOC claims that Skils’kin violated Title VII by requiring Wheels to work in a racially hostile work environment. The EEOC further claims that Skils’kin violated Title VII by firing Wheels in retaliation for complaining about racial harassment.

Race Discrimination Victims’ Rights

Under Title VII, employees are protected from racial discrimination in the workplace. Under well-established law, racial harassment is a form of racial discrimination forbidden by Title VII. To violate Title VII, racial harassment must be sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create a hostile working environment. Once an employer knows or should know that employee is being racially harassed in the workplace, Title VII obligates the employer to take prompt and effective remedial action to stop the harassment. Title VII also protects employees from retaliation when they complain about perceived racial discrimination in the workplace.

Employee Claims Racial Harassment

In September 2015, Wheels was hired by Skils’kin to work on its grounds crew at Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Throughout his employment with Skils’kin, Wheels was the only African-American employed by Skils’kin at the Warren Air Force Base. In November 2015, Wheels was transferred from the grounds crew to the dining hall. While working in the dining hall, Wheels heard a co-worker named Johnson make several comments about white supremacy. Wheels complained to an assistant manager about Johnson’s offensive racial comments. Skils’kin, according to the EEOC, did not take any disciplinary action against Johnson based on the offensive racial comments he made while working in the dining hall.

In May 2017, Wheels was transferred back to the grounds crew. While working on the grounds crew, Wheels was subjected to a sustained campaign of racially harassing behavior from Johnson and another co-worker named Apodaca. The racially harassing behavior towards Wheels included racial slurs, racially abusive comments, and referring to Wheels as a “token hire.”

Employee Claims Wrongful Termination

The EEOC alleges that Wheels repeatedly complained to supervisors and managers about the racial abuse he endured in the workplace. When Wheels complained to a Project Manager, the Project Manager told Wheels to stop making complaints about the offensive racial remarks. Despite his complaints, the EEOC contends that Skils’kin failed to take prompt and effective remedial action to stop the racial harassment from continuing. In fact, the EEOC alleges that Skils’kin never disciplined Johnson or Apodaca for making offensive racial comments to Wheels.

On December 22, 2017, Skils’kin laid Wheels off from his grounds crew job. When Wheels was laid off, Skils’kin management told Wheels that he was laid off only because it was the end of the season for seasonal employees, and he was eligible to be recalled to a seasonal job in the Spring of 2018. Despite laying Wheels off, Skils’kin retained a white seasonal grounds crew worker who had less seniority than Wheels. After Wheels was informed that he was being laid off from the grounds crew, Wheels requested a transfer to a job in the dining hall. Wheels were denied transfer to a job in the dining hall. Although Skils’kin regularly recalled seasonal grounds workers to return to their former positions in the spring of each year, Skils’kin did not recall Wheels to any position in the Spring of 2018.

Lawyers For Wrongful Termination Victims

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal labor laws prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. In fulfilling its Congressional mandate of enforcing the federal labor laws, the EEOC has the authority under federal law to file lawsuits on behalf of employment discrimination victims. In a press release issued by the EEOC on September 30, 2021, regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, Mary Jo O’Neill, explained that “Title VII protects employees of all races and guarantees them the right to work in an environment that is free from racial harassment.” “When an employer learns about race-based harassment in the workplace,” Ms. O’Neill added, “it must take prompt action designed to stop the behavior.”

Ocala, FL Wrongful Termination Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida, and representing workers throughout Central Florida, our Marion County, Florida wrongful termination attorneys have dedicated their practice to fighting for the rights of wrongful termination victims. If you have been retaliated against for complaining about discrimination in the workplace or have questions about your protection from retaliation under federal employment discrimination law, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Ocala, Florida wrongful termination lawyers. Our employment law attorneys take wrongful termination cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.

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