Skip top navigation Skip to content

Print   Email  Share

PRESS RELEASE
12-15-09

Albertsons Agrees To Pay $8.9 Million For Job Bias Based On Race, Color, National Origin, Retaliation

EEOC Says Employees Subjected to Swastikas, Lynching Drawings, Epithets

DENVER – Albertsons, LLC,  a national grocery chain, will pay $8.9 million and furnish other relief to  settle three employment discrimination lawsuits filed by the U.S. Equal  Employment Oppor­tunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged Albertsons with race,  color, and national origin discrimination and retaliation at its Aurora, Colo.,  distribution center. The monetary relief  will be distributed among 168 former and current employees.

All three of the EEOC’s cases stemmed from incidents at the  Aurora distribution  center, which is being closed for unrelated reasons. The first case, EEOC v. Albertsons LLC, Civil Action No. 06-cv-01273, was filed in  2006 and alleged a pattern or practice of workplace harassment and discrimin­ation  based on race, color and national origin.  According to the lawsuit, minority employees were repeatedly subjected  to derogatory comments and graffiti. Blacks  were termed “n-----s” and Hispanics termed “s---s,” among other offensive  epithets.

The EEOC said the offensive graffiti included racial and  ethnic slurs, depictions of lynchings, swastikas, and white supremacist and  anti-immigrant statements. The graffiti  in a commonly used men’s room was so offensive that several employees would  relieve themselves outside the building or go home at lunchtime rather than use  the restroom. Some of this graffiti  remained for years until the restroom was remodeled in 2005.

The EEOC also charged that minority employees were given harder  work assignments and were more frequently and severely disciplined than their  white co-workers. According to the EEOC,  managers were aware of, and even participated in, the harassment and  discrimination.

The second lawsuit, EEOC  v. Albertsons LLC, Civil Action No. 08-cv-00640, was filed in 2008 and alleged  a pattern or practice of retaliation. The  EEOC alleged that dozens of employees complained about the discriminatory  treatment and harassment and were subsequently given the harder job  assignments, were passed over for promotion and even fired as retaliation.

The third case, EEOC  v. Albertsons LLC, Civil Action No. 08-cv-02424, was also filed in 2008 and  alleged race discrimination on behalf of a single African American employee at  the distribution center who was terminated.

EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru said, “Employers  simply cannot overlook or tolerate this kind of outrageous discrimination and  retaliation. The EEOC certainly  won’t. We will aggressively pursue  employers who violate the laws we enforce.  And we’ll insist on substantial and meaningful relief for the victims  before settling these cases.”

Besides the monetary relief, Albertsons agreed to submit  to four years of court-ordered monitor­ing, and to institute an extensive  training program to ensure that management is aware of and will comply with  equal employment opportunity laws in the future.

EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the Phoenix  District, which includes the Denver Field Office, said, “These cases presented  the EEOC with some of the most egregious examples of race, color and national origin  discrimination the agency has seen in years.  The graffiti was particularly shocking.  Employers need to aggressively criticize such conduct, seek out the  culprits and take swift action.  Discrimination, harassment and retaliation are no joke. Supervisors and managers need to take  complaints seriously. And they need to  know that we, as an agency, take retaliation very seriously.”

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.