Keeping Race-Based Harassment Away From Staff

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit against a food preparer and retailer in Louisiana for allegedly subjecting a Black worker to race-based harassment.

According to the allegations contained in the lawsuit, the store's general manager called the employee "Black boy," "the Black boy," and "little Black guy," and regularly used the "n" word in his presence. The employee was even identified as "Black boy" on the schedule, although the schedule listed the names of non-Black employees, according to the EEOC.

The EEOC claims that the employee's supervisor called him a "b*tch *ss [n****r]" in front of other managers and employees. The employer responded by sending the employee home, but not the supervisor.

The next day, the general manager allegedly told the employee that he agreed that the employee was a "b*tch *ss [n——r]." The general manager then "disciplined" the supervisor by temporarily not allowing her to wear her supervisor's shirt, according to the EEOC.

The employee resigned because he found the employment conditions intolerable. "EEOC Sues Don's Specialty Meats, Inc. for Race Harassment" (Nov. 03, 2021).

Commentary and Checklist

Family employers cannot allow management to participate or engage in the use of racial slurs or epithets, toward staff. Management should also be trained not to tolerate any such language in the workplace.

Here are some tips to prevent race-based harassment:

  • Create and enforce a well-written policy, that you also embrace, prohibiting discrimination and harassment.
  • Allow staff to report issues safely and effectively without fear of retaliation.
  • Provide annual training to your managers and supervisors on preventing race and color discrimination and harassment discrimination laws.
  • Quickly investigate all reports of race or color discrimination or harassment, or a hostile work environment.
  • Take decisive remedial action when discrimination occurs.
  • Be sure to protect those who make claims of discrimination from any form of retaliation. Take all complaints of retaliation seriously and respond quickly.
  • Promote an inclusive culture in the workplace by fostering an environment of professionalism and respect for personal differences.
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