- Ryder Integrated Logistics, a transportation and supply chain company, and staffing agency Kimco Staffing Services will each pay $1 million (for a total of $2 million) and provide "significant injunctive relief" to settle a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit that alleged racial discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, EEOC announced May 26.
- The lawsuit claimed that African American employees assigned to Ryder by Kimco faced "ongoing and unwelcome" harassment, including the use of racial slurs and epithets. After an African American employee complained about the behavior, neither company fixed the issue and they instead fired the employee within days, EEOC alleged.
- "This case underscores the unfortunate reality that racial harassment and retaliation remain a problem in American workplaces," EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows said in the agency's release. "Confronting these issues is of critical importance to the EEOC and our nation. The EEOC will continue to use outreach, education and enforcement when necessary to ensure that employers — and staffing agencies — understand their obligation to prevent and correct unlawful harassment and ensure that workers can raise concerns without fear of reprisal."
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits racial discrimination, harassment, and retaliation for reporting such behaviors. While the law has been on the books for over half a century, discrimination suits are not uncommon. In 2020, retaliation claims were the most commonly filed complaint with the agency at 55% of all claims, or 37,632 total, while 32.7%, or 22,064, fell into the racial discrimination category. Employers paid $439 million to resolve EEOC discrimination allegations last year.
With Burrows at the helm, racial discrimination has been a major focus for the EEOC. In a May 20 webinar, Burrows said EEOC would use "all of the tools in the agency's tool box" to address workplace harassment and discrimination targeting members of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
Rather than acting out of defensiveness when employees complain — and potentially breaking the law — employers should welcome disclosures that can improve company culture and ensure the company is complying with legal requirements, employment lawyers previously told HR Dive.