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Racial Harassment Case Claiming Owner Subjected Employees To Racial Slurs Settled By EEOC

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On March 25, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a press release announcing that it has entered into a Consent Decree to settle a racial harassment and retaliation lawsuit against G.N.T., Inc., d/b/a GNT Foods (GNT Foods). On September 14, 2017, the EEOC filed the case, United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. G.N.T., Inc., d/b/a GNT Foods, Case No. 1:17-cv-03545, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia after initially attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its statutorily mandated conciliation process. In the Consent Decree, which was signed by U.S. District Court Judge Mark H. Cohen on March 25, 2020, GNT Foods agreed to pay $60,000 to resolve the lawsuit.

The EEOC brought the racial harassment and retaliation lawsuit pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) on behalf of three former employees of GNT Foods, Corey Bussey (Bussey), Justin Jones (Jones), and Christopher Evans (Evans). Under Title VII, employers are forbidden from discriminating against employees on the basis of race. Racial harassment is a form of race discrimination prohibited by Title VII. Title VII further protects employees from retaliation when they complain about perceived racial discrimination in the workplace. The EEOC claims that the three employees were harassed because of their race and fired in retaliation for complaining about the racial harassment they endured. In this article, our Marion County, Florida racial harassment lawyers explain the EEOC’s allegations against GNT Foods.

Employees Claim Racial Harassment

GNT Foods is a grocery store located in East Point, Georgia. Bussey, Jones, and Evans, who are African-American, worked in the meat department at GNT Foods. The EEOC claims that the three employees were subjected to a sustained campaign of racially harassing behavior by the owner of GNT Foods. The EEOC alleges that the owner subjected the three employees to a steady barrage of racially offensive language, including racial slurs and calling them “monkey.” The EEOC further alleges that the owner subjected other African-American employees to racially derogatory language. The owner, according to the EEOC, also displayed posters with images of monkeys on them in the meat department where Bussey, Jones, and Evans worked. The EEOC contends that the owner removed the posters prior to a scheduled visit by an EEOC investigator. The racially offensive posters were allegedly returned to their place on the walls in the meat department immediately following the visit by the EEOC investigator.

Employees Claim Retaliatory Discharge

After complaints to the owner resulted in no remedial action, Bussey filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC alleging race discrimination on July 10, 2015. After the charge of discrimination was filed, the owner agreed to meet with Bussey and other African-American employees, and the owner agreed to stop referring to African-American employees using racially derogatory language. On September 1, 2015, Bussey agreed to dismiss his EEOC charge of discrimination. However, within three weeks of Bussey’s withdrawal of his EEOC charge of discrimination, the owner resumed his daily use of racially offensive language. On September 22, 2015, Bussey and Jones were working on unloading a delivery truck when the owner approached Bussey and physically assaulted him by slapping him in the face. The owner immediately fired Bussey after he expressed his intention to call the police.

On December 24, 2105, Jones filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC alleging race discrimination. Three days later, the owner approached Jones in an effort to persuade him to not to file an EEOC charge of discrimination against the company. On January 22, 2016, the EEOC sent notice of Jones’ charge of discrimination to GNT Foods. Two days later, GNT Foods fired Jones.

On September 16, 2015, Evans filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC alleging race discrimination. Soon after receiving Evans’ charge of discrimination on September 23, 2015, the owner significantly reduced Evans’ scheduled work hours. On October 14, 2015, the owner told Evans that he would grant him his normally scheduled hours and give him $100 if he would agree to withdraw his EEOC charge of discrimination. On December 8, 2015, the owner questioned Evans about his continued contacts with the EEOC and advised him to resign. Evans responded that he would not. That same day, Evans was reassigned to work as a bagger in the retail section of the store. The EEOC then intervened by requesting that Evans be reinstated to his position in the meat department and GNT Foods complied. On March 7, 2016, GNT Foods fired Evans.

Fighting Against Racial Harassment

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. In enforcing the federal anti-discrimination laws, the EEOC is also authorized by federal law to bring lawsuits on behalf of employees who have been subjected to racially harassing behavior in the workplace. In a press release issued by the EEOC on March 25, 2020 regarding the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office, Antonette Sewell, explained that “employers have a duty to protect their workforce from racially offensive conduct and to take immediate corrective action when necessary.”

Consult With Ocala Racial Harassment Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Marion County, Florida racial harassment attorneys have been fighting for employee rights for more than two decades. If you have experienced racial harassment in the workplace or have questions about your rights as a victim of racial harassment, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Ocala, Florida racial harassment lawyers. Our employee rights law firm takes racial harassment 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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