NEW ORLEANS - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced a $200,000 settlement of a racial harassment and retaliation suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against Metairie, Louisiana-based Lakeside Toyota, one of the state's largest car dealerships. The suit alleged that a white former used car manager subjected six black employees to a racially hostile work environment which included repeated verbal harassment, racial slurs, physical threats, intimidation, and assault with bats.
"The Commission is seeing a disturbing national trend of increased racial harassment and retaliation at workplaces across the country," said EEOC Chairwoman Ida L. Castro. "This harassment at work sites includes egregious behavior which is reminiscent of the days of the civil rights movement. As EEOC commemorates its 35th anniversary this summer, we will continue to remain vigilant in eradicating such discriminatory conduct through voluntary means, where appropriate, and litigation, when necessary."
The terms of the settlement are contained in a Consent Decree entered in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. As part of the settlement, the Commission will monitor Lakeside Toyota's employment practices and Lakeside will conduct extensive training of its personnel to ensure compliance with the federal anti-discrimination laws. In addition, Lakeside will make the monetary payment in the form of charitable donations in the New Orleans and Jefferson area. On May 31, 2000, the individual claimants in the case reached a separate settlement agreement.
Keith T. Hill, Regional Attorney for EEOC's New Orleans District Office, said, "EEOC's settlement with Lakeside Toyota sends a strong message to employers in Louisiana that targeting African American workers for racial harassment and then retaliating against them for complaining about the discrimination will not be tolerated. The public interest has been served and the victims' injuries have been addressed through EEOC's vigorous enforcement action in this case."
In Fiscal Year (FY) 1999, EEOC received 6,249 charges alleging racial harassment, accounting for 8% of all charges filed with the agency. During the decade of the 1990s, EEOC received a cumulative total of 47,175 such charges (6% of all charges filed), compared to a cumulative total of 9,757 racial harassment charges in the 1980s (1.5% of all charges filed). Retaliation charges have also increased and now represent 25% of all charges (19,694) filed within FY 1999.
EEOC General Counsel C. Gregory Stewart said, "The Commission's litigation docket contains a number of pending suits charging employers with egregious racial harassment and retaliation, which is representative of the rise of such discriminatory conduct on a national level. We will continue to aggressively prosecute such cases in court when employers reject voluntary settlement efforts and when such action is in the public interest."
In addition to enforcing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin, the EEOC enforces the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Equal Pay Act; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; prohibitions against discrimination affecting individuals with disabilities in the federal government; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Additional information about the Commission is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on August 16, 2000.
Return to Home Page