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Furniture rental firm settles EEOC racial harassment suit


A nationwide chain of rent-to-own furniture stores will pay $425,000 to settle a lawsuit charging it with racial harassment in its Jamaica, New York, warehouse, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Tuesday.

The EEOC said Atlanta-based Aaron’s subjected black employees to a “race-based hostile work environment” in the warehouse. The agency said mistreatment included the regular and open use of derogatory slurs including the “n-word” by warehouse managers, who also directed other vulgar langue toward black employees, including referring to them as “monkeys.” Black workers were also assigned more difficult tasks and longer delivery routes than others at the warehouse, the EEOC said.

The EEOC charged the firm with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Under a consent decree, Aaron’s will pay $425,000 to harassment victims. The decree also requires Aaron’s to maintain an antidiscrimination policy, provide equal employment opportunity training to all its New York City area employees and report future Aaron’s employee race discrimination complaints to the EEOC.

EEOC New York District Director Kevin Berry said in a statement, “Racist behavior and the use of racial slurs by supervisors profoundly alter the work environment for employees. Employers should know if this illegal conduct is tolerated or left unaddressed, the EEOC will hold employers accountable.”

Asked to comment, Aaron’s responded with the statement: “We are focused on making Aaron’s a great place to work for people of all genders, races and creeds.”

In May, a forklift company that allegedly allowed its employees to harass Hispanic workers reached a $650,000 settlement with the EEOC.





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