The Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) assist with enforcing laws that forbid employment discrimination based on race, including workplace racial harassment.
Ethnic slurs, racial jokes, offensive or derogatory comments, or other verbal or physical conduct based on a person’s race constitute unlawful racial harassment if the work-related conduct creates an intimidating, hostile of offensive working environment, or interferes with the individual’s work performance.
Racial discrimination related to one’s work in the form of racial epithets such as the N-word can demonstrate racial animus since that type of offensive language is a universally recognized opprobrium, stigmatizing African Americans because of their race. Harassment based on race is demeaning and can deteriorate the work environment. Not only can racial harassment subject a person to emotional, physical and financial harm, but it can also make co-workers feel uncomfortable and distracted, contributing to lost interest in work, anxiety and a feeling that the work environment is unsafe.
In some instances, the EEOC will sue companies on behalf of people forced to endure employment-related racial harassment. For example, EEOC attorneys filed suit in the South Texas city of Laredo against a Dallas industrial and construction equipment provider charged with subjecting a Black technician to unlawful discrimination based on race. According to the EEOC’s August 8, 2011 press release, the technician was employed in a racially hostile work environment where a direct supervisor in a management position blatantly referred to the technician as N-word, slave and, among other things, mayate, a racial epithet against African-Americans used in South Texas. The supervisor admitted to using the racial slur N-word and witnesses corroborated that the supervisor routinely used racist epithets and made on-the-job racist jokes.
The EEOC’s San Antonio field office litigated the federal court racial harassment lawsuit in the Laredo Division of the Southern District of Texas, with EEOC San Antonio office attorneys filing suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the federal agency’s conciliation process.
Such conduct as alleged violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits race discrimination, including racial harassment, and retaliation for opposing and reporting race discrimination. Similarly, Texas Labor Code Chapter 21 provides protections to individuals against employment discrimination on the basis of race.
As a result of this South Texas racial harassment lawsuit, the Dallas industrial equipment distributor settled for $112,000 and other relief. In the consent decree settling the lawsuit, the company agreed to the monetary relief and agreed to provide Title VII training to employees assigned to the Laredo facility. The company also agreed to modify its written anti-discrimination policy, which specifically addresses race discrimination.
A San Antonio field office trial attorney familiar with the case remarked that no one should have to put up with racial abuse in their work or losing a livelihood because of racism. Commenting further, the trial attorney said “[s]mart employers can prevent racial harassment by not only promulgating anti-discrimination policies but also making such policies effective through regular training and monitoring.”
In Fiscal Year 2012, the EEOC reports that the agency received 33,512 charge filings alleging race-based discrimination. This accounted for 33.7 percent of all charges filed with the EEOC in Fiscal Year 2012. For Fiscal Year 2013, the EEOC reports that the agency received 33,068 charge filings alleging race-based discrimination, accounting for approximately 35 percent of the 93,727 charges filed with the EEOC in 2013.
Information about employment-related racial harassment and national origin harassment, including ethnic slur harassment, can be obtained at the website of the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division. In addition, more information about the EEOC, the laws it enforces and the procedures one must follow in order to correctly file a charge of racial harassment or national origin harassment is available in the agency’s website at www.eeoc.gov . A San Antonio field office for the EEOC and filing of employment-related complaints about racial harassment is located at Legacy Oaks, Building A, Suite 200, 5410 Fredericksburg Road, San Antonio, Texas 78229. It is open Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 pm. The San Antonio field office phone number is listed as 1(800)669-4000.
Whether workplace racial harassment, including abusive racial slurs and epithets, occurs in Cuero, Karnes City, Eagle Ford Shale or elsewhere in South Texas, people subjected to this type of hostile work environment may contact the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division or the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to make charges of race discrimination and trigger state or federal investigations of racial harassment complaints. In addition, people subjected to unlawful workplace racial harassment may consult an attorney to discuss whether the particular facts and circumstances of the potential employment discrimination case support filing of a Texas racial harassment lawsuit.