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Grocery wholesaler to pay $735K for allowing racial harassment of workers


A federal district judge has entered a $735,000 consent decree resolving a race harassment lawsuit, in which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged a Chicago grocery wholesaler with tolerating a racially hostile workplace.

The EEOC said Wednesday that since 2007, black employees at Battaglia Distributing Corp. had been harassed because of their race, including being subject to racial slurs, and that management failed to take action against the harassment despite employee complaints.

Under terms of the decree, which was entered Nov.10, the $735,000 will be paid to a group of current and former African-American employees. Among other provisions, the decree requires Battaglia to provide its managers with training on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits racial discrimination.

“This case was resolved before the parties had conducted any depositions or incurred any significant costs of discovery,” said EEOC Regional Attorney John Hendrickson, in a statement. “We expect that the training and other injunctive relief called for in the decree will make Battaglia a stronger employer going forward. Resolutions of this nature are positive for both the employer and the employees.”

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

Earlier this year, the EEOC reached a $160,000 settlement with a foundry in a racial discrimination case in which a noose had been found on the premises.

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