Forging Company Punished Employees for Complaining About Racial Harassment, Federal Agency Charges
MILWAUKEE – In a lawsuit filed here today in federal court, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged that Milwaukee Forge, a Milwaukee forging company, violated federal law by subjecting black employees to a hostile work environment, disciplining them more harshly than white employees, subjecting them to different terms and conditions of employment, and by retaliating against black employees who complained.
According to John Rowe, the EEOC district director in Chicago who managed the agency’s pre-suit administrative investigation, “In one alleged incident, a white employee called a black employee a racial epithet, then engaged in fights with black employees who heard the epithet. His discipline was limited to a one-day suspension. On the other hand, our investigation indicated that black employees who complained to management about harassment were either discharged or given longer suspensions.”
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual harassment or pregnancy) or national origin, and protects employees who complain about such offenses from retaliation. Today’s lawsuit, captioned EEOC v. Milwaukee Forge, No. 09-C-0943, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin after the agency first attempted to resolve the matter with the employer through its voluntary conciliation process.
“Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 guarantees workers a fair shake on the job regardless of race,” said John Hendrickson, EEOC regional attorney in Chicago. “No employer can permit African American employees to be targeted for harassment or intimidation or violence and then, in effect, penalize them for what they have endured. It’s within EEOC’s portfolio to step in when such things happen -- to correct the bad practices they expose, and to secure an appropriate remedy for the victims. That’s what we’re going to be moving toward in this case.”
The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on September 30, 2009.
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