Texas-Based Company Settles EEOC Racial Harassment Lawsuit

In a November 21, 2018 United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) Press Release, the EEOC announced that a Texas-based oil and gas company operating in North Dakota agreed to pay $50,000 and furnish other relief in order to settle a racial harassment lawsuit the EEOC filed against the company.

According to the EEOC, an employee of the company was subjected to racial harassment by his white coworkers, including the white co-workers using racial slurs such as spook, spade and Buckwheat and using the N-word.  As reported by the EEOC, the racial harassment was witnessed by a supervisor who took no action to stop it.

As courts have observed, perhaps no single act can more quickly alter the conditions of employment than the use of the unambiguously racial epithet “n****r”.  See, Rodgers v. Western-Southern Life Insurance Co., 12 F.3d 368 (7thCir.1993).  This racial epithet can demonstrate racial animus and is a universally recognized opprobrium, stigmatizing African Americans because of their race.  Causey v. Sewell Cadillac-Chevrolet, Inc., 394 F.3d 285, 289, n.2 (5thCir.2004); Brown v. Mississippi Electric Power Association, 989 F.2d 858, 861 (5thCir.1993).

In Texas, 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.  The Texas Commission on Human Rights Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, have been interpreted to prohibit requiring people to work in a discriminatorily hostile or abusive environment.

For its part, the EEOC enforces federal laws that forbid employment discrimination based on race and continues to be focused on the eradication of race and color discrimination from today’s workplace.  In enforcing federal laws that prohibit racial discrimination related to employment, the EEOC has filed, resolved and adjudicated a number of cases.  Some of these employment discrimination cases have involved racial harassment and retaliation allegations, including racial harassment, racial slurs and even displaying of nooses.

Information about employment-related racial harassment and racist 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 is available in the agency’s website at www.eeoc.gov.