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Judy Greenwald

Foundry agrees to pay $160,000 in racial bias case involving noose

March 20, 2014 - 2:35pm


The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has reached a $160,000 settlement with a foundry in a racial discrimination case in which a noose had been found on the premises, the agency said.

The EEOC’s case against San Antonio-based AA Foundries Inc. was originally filed in September 2011 on behalf of four black employees, according to the EEOC.

During a three-day trial in September 2012, a federal jury heard evidence that the plant superintendent, who was the top plant official, used racial epithets, and that a noose was displayed in the workplace after racial harassment charges were filed with the EEOC. According to a news report, the three workers never saw the noose, which was hung by another worker.

The superintendent reportedly said, though, that the noose “was no big deal” and “you people are too sensitive” when workers complained.

The jury found in favor of three of the black employees, who are male, and awarded them punitive damages totaling $200,000, later reduced to $140,000 because of statutory caps. It found no liability regarding a fourth black female employee.

The court also granted the EEOC’s application for injunctive relief and “permanently enjoined” the firm from “engaging in any employment practice which facilitates, condones or encourages a hostile work environment on the basis of race.” It ordered AA Foundries to implement an effective policy prohibiting race-based discrimination and to conduct training.

AA Foundries filed an appeal with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans in October 2012, according to the EEOC, and the EEOC filed a cross appeal on behalf of the female employee.

The company subsequently withdrew the appeal and agreed to settle the case.

The settlement, announced Wednesday, is for $160,000 to be divided among all four employees. The company also agreed to comply with the injunctive relief ordered by the court.

“I am pleased the resolution incorporated the full judgment,” said EEOC general counsel David Lopez in a statement. “The jury, speaking as the conscience of the community, had sent a powerful message that racial discrimination is unacceptable. It is unfortunate that nearly 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this type of unlawful harassment persists, and the EEOC will continue to work to eliminate it once and for all.”

The company’s attorney could not be reached for comment.

 



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