Wrongful harassment in the workplace (such as racial harassment) can cause a significant amount of harm to employees. Thus, it is very important for employers to not subject their employees to wrongful harassment and to take all proper steps to protect their employees from such harassment.
The EEOC claimed that 14 African-American employees of the company were harassed at work on the basis of their race. This alleged harassment reportedly included racial slurs, racist graffiti and nooses.
The EEOC further alleged that the company failed to respond properly to harassment complaints made by employees (the complaints regarded the alleged graffiti).
A lawsuit was brought by the EEOC in a federal court in Texas against the company in connection to these allegations. Recently, the EEOC and the company reached a settlement in regards to this lawsuit. Reportedly, as part of this settlement, the company has agreed to take certain actions, such as providing anti-discrimination/anti-harassment training to its employees and putting an anti-graffiti policy in place. The company has also agreed to make a monetary payment.
As the allegations in this recently settled case underscore, racial harassment can be extremely harmful. Thus, one hopes employers are held accountable when they subject employees to a racially hostile work environment like that alleged in this case. No employee should have to face racial harassment at their place of work.
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "RockTenn Services Pays $500,000 to Settle EEOC Race Harassment Suit," Dec. 3, 2012