- UPS and some managers at an Ohio distribution center are facing a lawsuit from 19 workers who claim they were subjected to race discrimination spanning a decade and that the conduct was "aided and abetted" by the package delivery company's onsite top-brass, including HR professionals.
- The plaintiffs said that, in addition to numerous specific incidents of racism directed toward them as individuals and as a group, a racially discriminatory culture "permeated employment decisions," including those related to pay, discipline, promotions and assignments. UPS allegedly "disregarded established objective standards and procedures for making employment-related decisions, including but not limited to seniority rules, job posting procedures and bid processes intended to ensure fair treatment." The complaint detailed allegations involving displays of nooses, slurs and more.
- The employees have asked for compensatory and punitive damages and the costs of the litigation, including attorneys' fees.
One doesn't have to look far to find claims of racial discrimination from warehouse workers or those on the manufacturing floor.
According to The New York Times, Tesla workers at a factory in Fremont, Calif. said they had to face racial slurs and discrimination on the job. And a lawsuit brought against General Motors claims black employees had to face "violent racial hate and bullying," at an Ohio plant, according to Manufacturing.net.
Current laws prohibit employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe benefits and any other term or condition of employment, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). A failure to address harassment can amount to discrimination and harassment can include, for example, racial slurs, offensive or derogatory remarks about a person's race or color or the display of racially-offensive symbols, EEOC says.
A robust reporting mechanism and staff training can prevent employer liability. Experts often note that manager training is an important aspect of preventing discrimination and harassment claims. EEOC has recommended that training be periodic and explain the types of conduct that violate an employer's anti-harassment policy and that can lead to lawsuits; the agency also recommends that employers explain the seriousness of the policy, the responsibilities of managers when they learn of alleged harassment and that retaliation is strictly forbidden. In addition to compliance training, anti-bias training can include ways to recognize and reduce the impact of prejudice at work.
Employers also can keep track of supervisors' and managers' conduct to ensure they carry out their responsibilities under the organization's anti-harassment program. For example, an employer could include compliance in formal evaluations, the EEOC suggests.