Worker Subjected To Racial Slurs Worked In Racial Hostile Environment EEOC Lawsuit Alleges
For more than twenty years, our Citrus County, Florida hostile work environment attorneys have litigated racial discrimination cases in Florida courts. Through their extensive experience representing racial discrimination victims, our Inverness, Florida hostile work environment lawyers know that many employers fail to take corrective measures to protect their employees from racial harassment. Instead of punishing racial harassers and protecting racial harassment victims, employers often attempt to minimize racially abusive behavior in the workplace by focusing on the harasser’s allegedly benign intent. For example, employers will justify their refusal to discipline the racial harasser by claiming that the harasser did not intend to be offensive or cause harm. In this article, our Citrus County, Florida hostile work environment attorneys explain how a racial harassment lawsuit recently filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) demonstrates that federal employment discrimination law imposes an affirmative duty on employers to protect their employees from racial harassment in the workplace regardless of the ostensibly benign intent of the racial harasser.
Racial Harassment Lawsuit
On October 7, 2021, the EEOC issued a press release announcing that it has filed a racial harassment lawsuit against Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington (Kaiser). On September 30, 2021, the EEOC filed the racial harassment lawsuit, United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington, Case No. 2:21-cv-01338, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The EEOC has brought the racial harassment lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) on behalf of an employee of Kaiser, an African-American woman named Hayden. The EEOC claims that Kaiser subjected Hayden to a racially hostile work environment in violation of Title VII.
Racial Discrimination Victims’ Rights
Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of race. In interpreting Title VII, courts have uniformly held that racial harassment is a form of race 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 subjected to racially offensive behavior in the workplace, the employer is required by Title VII to take prompt and effective remedial action to stop the harassment and prevent the harassment from continuing. When an employer fails to take remedial measures, or the remedial measures are taken fail to stop the harassment, the employer is liable for creating and maintaining a racially hostile work environment in violation of Title VII.
Employee ClaimsWorkplace Harassment
Kaiser is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health plans. Hayden is employed by Kaiser as a laboratory assistant. From October 2018 until August 2019, according to the EEOC, Hayden was subjected to racially harassing behavior by a co-worker, including racial slurs and epithets. In October 2018, Hayden informed her co-worker that she found the racial remarks offensive and asked her co-worker to stop making racial remarks. Despite Hayden’s request, the co-worker continued to subject her to racially abusive language. On one occasion, the EEOC maintains, the co-worker threatened that she wanted to slash Hayden’s tires and break her car windows after learning that Hayden had reported her racially harassing behavior.
Between February 2019 and April 2019, Hayden reported the co-worker’s racist behavior to two lead laboratory assistants. Despite Hayden’s complaints, the co-worker’s racially discriminatory harassing conduct did not stop. Because the behavior continued, Hayden emailed Kaiser’s Human Resources Service Center in April 2019 and asked for someone to contact her regarding the co-worker’s racially abusive conduct. The Human Resources Center, according to the EEOC, did not intercede and the co-worker’s racist conduct was allowed to continue.
In June 2019, Hayden lodged another racial discrimination complaint with Kaiser’s Compliance Hotline. Kaiser assigned an Employee Labor Relations Consultant (Consultant) to respond. The EEOC maintains that the Consultant conducted an inadequate investigation, including failing to interview key witnesses named in Hayden’s hotline complaint who could corroborate Hayden’s allegations. Kaiser’s Consultant recommended against disciplining the co-worker and closed the file. In August 2109, Hayden lodged another racial discrimination complaint with the Consultant regarding additional racially harassing incidents from the co-worker. Kaiser, according to the EEOC, did not take any disciplinary action against the co-worker.
Lawyers For Racial Harassment Victims
The EEOC is the administrative agency of the United States government responsible for administering, interpreting, and enforcing federal employment discrimination law. In enforcing federal employment discrimination law, the EEOC brings lawsuits on behalf of employment discrimination victims, including employees who have been required to work in a racially hostile work environment.
In a press release issued on October 7, 2021, regarding the case, a trial attorney for the EEOC’s San Francisco District Office, Carmen Flores, explained that “all employees have the right to work in a setting free from harassment.” In commenting on the case, the Acting Director of the EEOC’s San Francisco District Office, Nancy Sienko, observed that “whether a racial slur is aimed at the employee reporting it or not, employers must act to stop such workplace conduct immediately.” “It is unacceptable and against the law,” Ms. Sienko added, “for employers to fail to intercede when their employees report racial epithets particularly those associated with historical weight and injury.”
Inverness, FL Hostile Work Environment Lawyers
Based in Ocala, Florida, and representing workers throughout Central Florida, our Citrus County, Florida hostile work environment attorneys have dedicated their practice to representing racial discrimination victims. If you have been required to work in a racially hostile work environment or have questions about an employer’s failure to protect you from racial harassment at work, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Inverness, Florida hostile work environment lawyers. Our employee rights law firm takes racial discrimination 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.