Sexual and Racial Harassment Suits Settled, New Suits Allege Disability and Race Discrimination

July 30, 2018

In unrelated developments, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced the settlement of sexual and racial harassment lawsuits by employers in California, Illinois, and North Dakota, as well as the filing of new lawsuits alleging disability and race discrimination against employers in Oklahoma and Florida.

Settlements

Sexual harassment. Bornt & Sons, Inc, a Holtville, California-based organic farms operator, and its former farm labor contractor Barraza Farm Service, LLC / Barraza Farm Service, Inc, will pay $300,000 and furnish other relief to settle allegations that the companies violated Title VII when a farm manager sexually harassed a class of four female workers by leering at them; grabbing their private areas; making sexual comments; and subjecting them to unwanted touching and kissing. The manager retaliated against at least three women who refused his sexual advances, either by firing or refusing to rehire them, a tactic also employed against workers who reported or complained about the harassment. Bornt & Sons and Barraza also allegedly fired at least three male farmworkers for their familial association with the sexual harassment victims. The companies purportedly failed to take corrective action when they became aware of the investigation into sexual harassment, instead moving the harasser to a different farm.

In an unrelated lawsuit, Malcolm S. Gerald & Associates, Inc, has agreed to pay $25,000 and provide other relief to settle allegations that the Illinois collection agency violated Title VII by subjecting an employee to unwelcome and offensive comments made by supervisors and coworkers about his sexual orientation.

Racial harassment. Cudd Energy Services will pay $39,900 to resolve claims that the Texas-based oilfield service company operating in Williston, North Dakota, violated Title VII by subjecting an employee to a racially hostile work environment because of his race and then firing him after he complained about it. The employee, who is Asian, worked as an equipment operator. Shortly after he began working, he was racially harassed by his white supervisor, including being called "little Asian" and "Chow" based on the Asian character in the movie "Hangover." On one occasion, the supervisor purportedly physically assaulted the employee when he poured a bottle of water on his head, grabbed his head, and pushed it down towards a table. The employee complained about the harassment to supervisors and reported the assault to the police.

New lawsuits

Disability discrimination. Northwest Petroleum, LP, the owner of a Lawton, Oklahoma, Burger King franchise, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when the Houston, Texas-based company that owns and operates gas stations and fast food franchises refused to hire a man as a dining room attendant because he had suffered a traumatic brain injury and needed a job coach to assist with his training. Allegedly, the job coach would have been provided at no cost to the restaurant, and the applicant had worked successfully at other fast food restaurants where he was trained with a job coach.

Race discrimination. Fanatics Retail Group, Inc, violated Title VII by subjecting employees to racial discrimination, harassment, and retaliatory failure to promote. Allegedly, the workplace of the Jacksonville, Florida-based online retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise was racially divided, and the company subjected employees to racial slurs and comments such as "We don't need any outbreak monkeys here." When an employee complained about the treatment, he purportedly was told that he would never be promoted.