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EEOC - Page 2 - 2001

The Unites States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: 1-800-669-4000

"The man who trades independence for security usually
deserves to end up with neither." - Benjamin Franklin

Older Workers Claim Discrimination

Associated Press - By ADAM GELLER - June 29, 2001

Older Workers Say Age Discrimination Behind Wave of Job Cuts

Two days after Visteon Corp. eliminated his job, a glum Terry Kolesar drove to a placement seminar arranged by his longtime employer. He found a seat and looked around at the faces of 17 other luckless co-workers.

What he saw fanned his dejection into anger -- lots of graying hair, more than a few pairs of reading glasses and wrinkles around nearly every pair of eyes. Like himself, Kolesar says, most of the others targeted by Visteon appeared to be over 50.

``Tell me this wasn't 'Let's flush out the old guys and get some new guys in here to replace them,''' said Kolesar, a bearish financial analyst who worked for the giant auto parts maker for 24 of his 54 years.

More workers like Kolesar are alleging age discrimination as many of the nation's largest companies enact deep job cuts. The cuts, following an economic surge that long had employers bemoaning a shortage of skilled workers, comes as the first Baby Boomers turn 55 this year.

But as they weigh suits against companies, some of those pushed from their jobs are testing the limitations of a little-known law, one that is supposed to help expose age discrimination, but has workers playing sleuth, piecing together bits of information with one eye on the calendar.

In the days after the April seminar, Kolesar sequestered himself in his ``command center,'' wedged into a corner of his dining room, alongside a china cabinet, using a personal computer Visteon bought for his family.

He and former co-worker Joel DeLong, 51, began combing the ranks of layoff victims for information. Over the next few weeks, they compiled a mailing list of more than 300 names and Kolesar built a spreadsheet that accounted for nearly 600 of the 1,300 workers cut by Visteon.

In May, the two men and six others sued, based on statistics they say shows Visteon cut 30 percent of workers aged 56 and older, and 15 percent of those 51 to 55, while just 6 percent of those under 40 lost their jobs.

The key to their claim is the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990, or OWBPA, aimed at workers 40 and over. It requires companies to provide workers with age-specific data about who is targeted and who remains on the job after layoffs or early-retirement buyouts.

The law kicks in when employers ask workers to sign agreements not to sue the company in exchange for a larger severance package. With age data in hand, and 45 days to think things over, workers are supposed to have the information they need to decide whether to sign the waiver or if they have grounds for a lawsuit.

But many companies deliver the data in ways making it difficult for workers -- saddled with newfound time and money worries -- to interpret and understand, employment lawyers and advocates say.

Kolesar was given a single sheet of paper with job titles and ages for a group of just 11 other workers, making it difficult to see a broad pattern of discrimination. In the past, layoff victims have complained of data dividing workers into broad age-bands, rather than giving specific ages, a practice that has been outlawed.

The suit against Visteon is one of a few brought against companies in recent years that hinge on the age distribution reports required by OWBPA.

Last June, two former employees of Lucent Technologies Inc. sued the company in federal court in Atlanta claiming they were victims of the company's ``ongoing scheme ... to purge its older management employees,'' an effort they say Lucent tried to camouflage by providing misleading age distribution figures.

Last month, the Massachusetts Attorney General's office and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission scored a partial victory over Bull HN Information Systems, the U.S. subsidiary of Paris-based Groupe Bull. In that case, a federal judge ruled Bull failed to provide workers with the required age data when their jobs were cut in the mid-90s.

Spokesmen for Visteon and Lucent declined to comment on the charges lodged by former workers, citing their status in litigation. A spokesman for Bull, Steve Puleo, said the company did not provide age data to fired workers because of a lack of clarity in the law, but now routinely supplies such information.

Lawyers for some workers say the problems continue elsewhere.

``The statute is clear, and it's amazing how companies don't follow the law,'' said L. Steven Platt, a Chicago attorney and past president of the National Employment Lawyers Association. ``When they provide the information, they're providing people can't figure out what's going on.''

Employers disagree emphatically. They say they're doing their best to comply with OWBPA, but describe the law as cumbersome and of limited value to workers whose overriding concern is getting the best severance package.

Most workers ``are looking forward to that golden parachute, and so most people aren't interested'' in the age data, said Ann Reesman, general counsel for the Equal Employment Advisory Council, an alliance of 350 companies focused on workplace discrimination issues. ``For those that are interested, there should be plenty of information.''

But the age data could prove particularly useful to a growing number of workers, given the graying of the nation's labor force and increasing concerns about ageism. The median age of the U.S. labor force has climbed from 34.6 years old in the early 1980s to 39.2 years old in 2000. It will reach 41 years old by 2008, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says.

Age discrimination complaints also have turned sharply upward recently after dropping steadily through the 1990s, according to EEOC figures…

Workers Suing For Age Bias Can Keep Severance

Men Are Claiming Harassment by Men

New York Times - By REED ABELSON - June 10, 2001

The managers at a used-car dealership were notorious for telling lewd jokes and teasingly groping the salesmen who worked there, according to a lawsuit brought on the salesmen's behalf.

A gay hotel employee says men who worked with him would continually pick on him, sometimes coming up behind him and simulating sex in front of others.

A Wall Street analyst complained that his male supervisor demanded _ possibly as a put-down rather than a proposition _ sexual favors in exchange for a larger bonus. The supervisor told the analyst, who is heterosexual, that he would be better off as a "homosexual prostitute," according to the analyst's lawsuit.

More and more men are coming forward to file sexual harassment charges about behavior that employers once dismissed as simply horseplay or locker-room antics, according to employment lawyers and government regulators. While some of these men are complaining of unwanted sexual overtures, just as women frequently do, most complaints involve men being picked on, through boorish hijinks that come across as offensive and humiliating.

These men are filing charges of sexual harassment with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and bringing private lawsuits against employers. Women are also bringing cases claiming harassment by other women, according to lawyers, but such cases are rare.

Men's claims now account for 13.5 percent of all sexual harassment charges being brought to the commission, nearly double the percentage a decade ago, according to the E.E.O.C. While the commission tracks only the sex of the person making the claim, it believes the vast majority of these charges involve harassment by other men.

"Employers really need to look at their workplace," said Ida L. Castro, chairwoman of the E.E.O.C., describing what she called an "explosion of expression" of same-sex sexual harassment even as other forms of harassment also rise.

But because of the way the current federal law is being interpreted, much of the most egregious behavior goes unpunished, according to lawyers. For example, many employees who are gay and are picked on have little recourse under the federal law under which sexual harassment is prohibited, or under most state laws. And a manager or co-worker who is crude or displays other unwanted sexual behavior not clearly aimed just at men or just at women may not be covered.

"There is really not a workplace protection for that," said Stephen M. Katz, a lawyer in Atlanta who has represented employees complaining of same-sex harassment.

Some forms of behavior long tolerated by employers, particularly among men, are beginning to be regarded as just as virulent as those in which men harass women. While some courts had refused to acknowledge that such harassment was possible, the Supreme Court ruled three years ago that employees are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 from harassment by someone of the same sex, even when that harassment is not based on sexual attraction. Sexual harassment is considered "discrimination because of sex" under the framework of Title VII.

In the case involving the used car dealership, Burt Chevrolet in Englewood, Colo., two supervisors were accused of harassing 10 salesmen and therefore creating a hostile work environment for male employees, a form of discrimination under Title VII. The supervisors would refer to the men with terms like "woman" or "whore" and tell offensive sexual jokes, according to a lawsuit brought by the E.E.O.C. in 1999. The men were also subjected to "having their genital areas repeatedly grabbed," according to the suit. The E.E.O.C. said the behavior was aimed at undermining the masculinity of the employees.

The E.E.O.C. added that the dealership's management had dismissed the incidents as horseplay.

But according to one man, who asked that he not be identified, the physical nature of the harassment - the grabbing, the coming up from behind and simulating sex - clearly was "stepping over the line."

"Certain people just think they have to project a macho image," he said.

The case was settled last year for $500,000.

Burt Chevrolet says the behavior was never as severe as the E.E.O.C. claimed and was nothing more than what goes on in "a typical high school locker room," according to John Held, the company's lawyer.

Two years ago, a jury awarded David Gonzales, a shoe salesman for Dillard's Department Stores, $7.3 million because he said he was sexually harassed by his male supervisor, who would frequently touch his buttocks and groin area, according to the lawsuit, brought under the Texas law that is modeled after Title VII. The case is now under appeal. Dillard's declined to comment.

In the case of the former Wall Street analyst, he brought a lawsuit against Bear Stearns in late 1999 in which he said his supervisor suggested he perform a sex act in exchange for a higher bonus. The supervisor also made repeated comments, including referring to a male colleague as the analyst's "girlfriend," and making derogatory remarks about other employees' supposed sexual orientation like describing someone as "supergay," according to the lawsuit.

The suit has since been settled for an undisclosed amount. Bear Stearns declined to comment.

But unless employees can demonstrate that they were harassed because of their sex, they may be out of luck. Because Title VII, which is the basis for most state laws, is aimed at prohibiting sex discrimination, it does not cover all kinds of harassment. The Supreme Court ruling only clarified that one could be harassed by someone of the same sex.

When motivation is unclear, courts are often reluctant to conclude that an individual was harassed because of his or her sex unless the harassment involves a man and a woman, according to lawyers who represent employees.

"When it's opposite-sex sexual harassment, it's obvious," said Ferne Wolf Wiesenthal, a lawyer in St. Louis who is appealing a case involving same-sex harassment.

In that case, Michael S. Penberthy, a technician for the T. J. Gundlach Machine Company, complained that men with whom he worked harassed him by claiming he had sex with his supervisor and circulated cartoons depicting him having sex. The company declined to comment.

The court ruled for the company on the grounds that it was not clear such harassment was based on Mr. Penberthy's sex, even while it acknowledged disgust at the "juvenile conduct."

In March, Medina Rene, a hotel employee who is openly gay, lost his case against the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas in an appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Mr. Rene, 48, had worked for the hotel for more than two years as a butler for wealthy guests and claimed he was continually harassed by other butlers. They would try to pinch his buttocks and engage in other inappropriate contact, he contended.

"That's physical violence," Mr. Rene said.

The hotel investigated Mr. Rene's claims twice and each time found them without merit, according to Alan Feldman, a spokesman.

Because Mr. Rene is gay, the court ruled that any harassment would have been based on his sexual orientation, not his sex. "The degrading and humiliating treatment Rene contends that he received from his fellow workers is appalling, and is conduct that is most disturbing to this court," the court said. "However, this type of discrimination, based on sexual orientation, does not fall within the prohibitions of Title VII."

One judge on the three-member panel dissented, arguing that "while gay-baiting insults and teasing are not actionable under Title VII, a line is crossed when the abuse is physical and sexual."

Mr. Rene's lawyer, Richard Segerblom, is requesting an appeal before an 11-member panel of judges. He argues that the court unnecessarily delved into the motivation of the harassment. Because the very nature of the acts was sexual, they constitute sexual harassment, he argues.

Mr. Segerblom also said that Mr. Rene should not have to prove that the only reason he was harassed was because of his sex.

In another case, the court concluded that a postal worker in Farmingdale, N.Y., was not protected because the harassment was based on his sexual orientation.

"It's very upsetting as a lawyer to know someone can't get into the courtroom doors for relief," said Rick Ostrove, an attorney for Leeds Morelli & Brown who was involved in the case's appeal. While New York City prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, the State of New York does not, he noted.

The Supreme Court decision "has required the courts and plaintiffs to know what is really motivating the harassment," said Heather Sawyer, an attorney for the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a civil rights group for gay men and lesbians.

"It certainly gets at the clear need for a law that gets at circumstances that are solely based on sexual orientation," she said.

Other cases have been lost on the grounds that the harasser did not target any one sex. An $80,000 jury verdict against Wal-Mart Stores was reversed earlier this year because the harasser "was just an indiscriminately vulgar and offensive supervisor, obnoxious to men and women alike."

EEOC Wins Age Discrimination Suit

EEOC - Press Release - May 10, 2001

Jury Verdict Results in $430,000 Award for Fired Older Workers

MADISON, Wis. - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that it received a favorable jury verdict in a lawsuit against the University of Wisconsin (UW) Press, a book publishing division of the Graduate School of UW-Madison, filed under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). As a result of the verdict, four former UW Press employees will share $430,427 comprised of back pay, front pay, and liquidated damages.

In its suit, EEOC charged, and the jury found, that Rosalie Robertson, then 50; Chuck Evenson, then 54; Mary Braun, then 46; and Joan Strasbaugh, then 47 the four oldest employees of UW Press were terminated from their employment because of their respective ages and replaced with younger workers in violation of the ADEA. The jury made an initial finding against UW Press on the issue of liability on May 8, 2001, when it returned a verdict of intentional age discrimination in regard to all four terminations. The verdict on damages was returned on Wednesday evening, May 9.

"Age discrimination is still a persistent problem in today's workplace," said EEOC Chairwoman Ida L. Castro. "Too many employers still judge older workers based on false perceptions that they lack current skills, are adverse to training, or no longer have the level of energy and motivation of younger workers. Employers should be aware that making employment decisions based on such age-related myths and stereotypes runs afoul of the law."

During the trial, UW Press claimed that, despite their seniority, the four individuals were laid off for cost reasons and because of a lack of skills in computer technology as part of a reduction in force (RIF). However, EEOC argued that younger employees were hired into the same positions shortly after the alleged RIF, and that the four terminated workers were in fact ready, willing, and able to learn any required new skills to perform their jobs.

Chester V. Bailey, director of EEOC's Milwaukee District Office, which handled the suit, said: "Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his or her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment including, but not limited to, hiring and firing. Employers in Wisconsin and Minnesota must be mindful of their responsibility to judge employees and applicants based on their ability to do the job, rather than on non-job related factors such as age."

EEOC was represented in the case by trial attorneys Brian Tyndall and Barbara Henderson of the agency's Milwaukee office.

In Fiscal Year 2000, EEOC received 16,008 ADEA charge filings nationwide and obtained approximately $56 million in monetary benefits for victims of age discrimination through enforcement and litigation.

In addition to enforcing the ADEA, EEOC enforces Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion or national origin; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination because of disability; the Equal Pay Act, which prohibits sex-based wage discrimination; sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991; and prohibitions against discrimination affecting persons with disabilities in the federal government. Coverage generally includes private employers with 15 or more employees as well as federal, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor organizations. Further information about the Commission is available on its Web site at

EEOC Settles Secret Genetic Testing Suit

EEOC - Press Release - April 18, 2001

First Commission Legal Action Challenging Workplace Genetic Testing under Disabilities Act

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that is has settled its first court action challenging the use of workplace genetic testing under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). EEOC had sought a Preliminary Injunction against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) to end genetic testing of employees who filed claims for work-related injuries based on carpal tunnel syndrome.

"EEOC sought the preliminary injunction to prevent irreparable harm to employees who faced the impossible choice of potentially losing their jobs or revealing their genetic makeup," said Commission Chairwoman Ida L. Castro. "Our swift action in this case allows Burlington Northern employees subjected to genetic testing to continue to work free of retaliation and future invasions of privacy in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act."

According to EEOC's Petition, Burlington Northern's genetic testing program was carried out without the knowledge or consent of its employees, and at least one worker was threatened with termination for failing to submit a blood sample for a genetic test. Today's settlement, in which BNSF admits that it tested certain employees for a genetic marker, is in the form of an Agreed Order and includes the following terms:

  • BNSF shall not directly or indirectly require its employees to submit blood for genetic tests;

  • BNSF shall not analyze any blood previously obtained;

  • BNSF shall not evaluate, analyze or consider any gene test analysis previously performed on any of its employees; and

  • BNSF shall not retaliate or threaten to take any adverse action against any person who opposed the genetic testing or who participated in EEOC's proceedings.

In addition, as part of the settlement, BNSF shall preserve all evidence relevant to its genetic testing until several charges of discrimination filed with EEOC against the company are resolved. In its ongoing investigation of the initial charge filings, EEOC may seek compensatory and punitive damages up to $300,000 per individual (the statutory cap) for a class of claimants ranging from 20 to 30 BNSF workers who were either subjected to genetic testing or retaliated against for failing to submit to such tests.

"The Commission will continue to respond aggressively to any evidence that employers are asking for or using genetic tests in a manner that violates the ADA," said EEOC Commissioner Paul Steven Miller, who in July 2000 testified before the U.S. Congress on genetic discrimination.

Miller added: "Employers must understand that basing employment decisions on genetic testing is barred under the ADA's "regarded as" prong, as stated in EEOC's 1995 policy guidance on the definition of the term "disability." Moreover, genetic testing, as conducted in this case, also violates the ADA as an unlawful medical exam."

The Agreed Order entered today is enforceable by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, Western Division, located in Sioux City, Iowa, and will remain in place until the EEOC completes its investigation. The settlement was negotiated for EEOC by Laurie Vasichek, senior trial attorney of the agency's Minneapolis Area Office, and Jean Kamp, regional attorney of the Milwaukee office.

In its Petition for Preliminary Injunction, filed on February 9, 2001, the EEOC asked the Court to order the railroad to end its nationwide policy of requiring employees who have submitted claims of work-related carpal tunnel syndrome to provide blood samples, which are then used for a genetic DNA test for Chromosome 17 deletion - which is claimed to cause carpal tunnel syndrome in rare cases.

EEOC also sought to halt any disciplinary action against or termination of any employee who refused to submit a blood sample for genetic testing. EEOC brought the motion after a preliminary investigation of six discrimination charges led Chester V. Bailey, district director of the EEOC's Milwaukee District Office, to conclude that "the employees would suffer irreparable injury through the invasion of their most intimate privacy rights if BNSF's practice of genetic testing is not ended."

EEOC is the federal agency responsible for enforcing Title I of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities, including prohibiting an employer from seeking disability related information not related to an employee's ability to perform his or her job. In addition, EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the bases of race, color, religion, sex or national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which protects workers age 40 and older; and the Equal Pay Act which prohibits sex-based differences in compensation. Further information about EEOC, including its ADA policy guidances, is available on the agency's Web site at

Railroad to Advocate against Genetic Screening

Plan Sponsor - April 12, 2001

In an agreement with two unions, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees (BMWE) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE), the railroad recognized the necessity of legislation that limits the use of genetic testing and vowed to take the matter to Congress, according to BNA.

The unions and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) had filed separate lawsuits, accusing the railroad of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by requiring employees, submitting claims of work-related carpal tunnel syndrome, to provide blood samples to determine a genetic propensity to the condition.

The railroad agreed to eliminate the testing in February, but negotiations between Burlington Northern and EEOC continued until April 10.

The parties settled out of court, with the railroad agreeing:

  • to stop all genetic testing of employees represented by the two unions
  • to destroy all blood samples and records of previous testing,
  • not to discipline any employee for failure to comply with requests for medical information connected to these tests, and
  • to actively lobby against genetic discrimination

Democrat-sponsored legislation, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of genetic information with respect to health insurance and employment, is pending in both the House and Senate.

The bills would make it an unlawful employment practice for an employer, employment agency, labor organization, or training program to discriminate because of protected genetic information, and would make it illegal to request, require, collect, or purchase such information, the Bureau of National Affairs reports.


EEOC - Press Release - April 10, 2001

BIRMINGHAM, ALA. -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced a $485,000 settlement of a harassment lawsuit against Charoen Pokphand, USA, Inc., at its Eufaula, Ala., chicken processing plant. The EEOC and private plaintiffs alleged that seven African-American female line workers were subjected to egregious sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The private plaintiffs were represented by the law firm of Gordon, Silberman, Wiggins & Childs, with Jon Goldfarb acting as lead counsel.

This is the second harassment suit that has been settled by the EEOC against an Eufaula, Ala., employer in the past year. In June 2000, the EEOC and private plaintiffs settled a sexual and racial harassment lawsuit for $625,000 against London International Group, LLC, a condom manufacturer in the Eufaula area.

"EEOC has witnessed a disturbing national trend of increased sexual and racial harassment followed by retaliation of workers over the past decade," said Commission Chairwoman Ida L. Castro. "Employers should realize that they will pay a high price by tolerating, condoning, or ignoring the creation of hostile work environments and retaliating against employees for complaining about discrimination. I am pleased that in this case the employer has stepped up its efforts to prevent the recurrence of these incidents."

Under the terms of the settlement, the women will share monetary relief consisting of compensatory damages, attorney's fees, and costs. In addition, Charoen will establish and distribute a zero tolerance policy regarding discrimination; establish and distribute an anti- harassment policy in both Spanish and English to all of its current and future employees on at least a semi-annual basis; conduct training sessions for its management employees, hourly employees, and human resource personnel on sexual harassment, racial harassment and retaliation; and report to EEOC any complaints of sexual harassment, racial harassment and/or retaliation that it receives as well as the results of any investigation, and/or subsequent action taken to remedy the situation.

"The settlement reached by EEOC and private counsel resolves this case in a fair and reasonable manner," said Cynthia G. Pierre, EEOC's Birmingham District Office director. She added: "The settlement not only provides monetary compensation for the aggrieved victims, it also provides significant injunctive relief to prevent and eliminate harassment and retaliation. The implementation and posting of policies and the training, which are critical to the settlement, will help Charoen foster a work environment that is free of discrimination and harassment for its current and future workforce."

Charles E. Guerrier, regional attorney of EEOC's Birmingham office, said, "It is not enough for employers simply to adopt a policy against harassment and then casually sit back and wait for claims of harassment to come in. Employers have an affirmative duty to prevent harassment from occurring."

He added: "Harassment of any kind has no place in the workplace. All employees have the right to work in an environment free of demeaning, hostile, and abusive conduct. Nowhere is this more important than in those blue-collar jobs where traditional hostility towards women can take a large toll on their performance and well-being."

Harassment charges (of all types) filed with EEOC have more than doubled in the past decade, from 6,225 such filings in FY 1991 to 14,955 in FY 2000. Retaliation charges filed with EEOC have likewise increased from 7,906 such charges in FY 1991 to 21,613 in FY 2000.

In addition to enforcing Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin, EEOC enforces the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Equal Pay Act; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; prohibitions against discrimination affecting individuals with disabilities in the federal government; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Further information about the Commission is available on the agency's Web site at


EEOC - Press Release - April 3, 2001

RALEIGH, N.C. - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced a $200,000 settlement of a racial harassment lawsuit against Georgia-Pacific Corporation, a leading global manufacturer and distributor of paper and building products, on behalf of four African-American employees. The workers were subjected to a racially hostile work environment by a white supervisor at the company's facility in Butner, N.C., and one employee was fired after complaining about the harassment.

"Racial harassment continues to be a widespread problem in today's workplace, as evidenced by the increasing number of charges filed with EEOC offices across the country," said Commission Chairwoman Ida L. Castro. "Employers in the Carolinas and throughout the United States should be on alert that the EEOC will vigorously enforce workplace civil rights laws to remedy and eradicate harassment."

In addition to monetary benefits for the charging parties and fees for their private attorneys, the settlement enjoins Georgia-Pacific from discriminating against employees due to race and requires the company to provide training on anti-discrimination laws for its employees, including management, at the Butner facility. Georgia-Pacific, based in Atlanta, employs more than 85,000 people in nearly 600 plants, mills, distribution centers and facilities nationwide.

The suit was filed by EEOC's Charlotte District Office under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. According to the suit, a white manager in the company's Fabrication Shop subjected African-American employees to severe and repeated acts of racial harassment consisting of racial slurs, jokes, comments, and graffiti. In addition, the suit alleged that Georgia-Pacific terminated one of the African-American employees in retaliation for his complaints about the harassment.

Reuben Daniels, Jr., district director for EEOC's Charlotte office, said: "Combating race discrimination and harassment is one of EEOC's highest priorities in the Carolinas. It is imperative for employers to respond swiftly to complaints of discrimination and take corrective measures to eliminate such unlawful workplace conduct."

Charges of racial harassment filed with EEOC have more than doubled over the past decade from 2,849 charge filings in Fiscal Year 1991 to 6,616 in FY 2000, accounting for about 11% of all charges filed with the agency. Racial harassment is a form of race discrimination that includes racial jokes, slurs, offensive or derogatory comments, or other verbal or physical conduct based on an individual's race or color. Such conduct may create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment, or interfere with workers' performance, in violation of Title VII.

In addition to enforcing Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin, EEOC enforces the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Equal Pay Act; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; prohibitions against discrimination affecting individuals with disabilities in the federal government; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Further information about the Commission is available on the agency's Web site at

EEOC - Page 1 - 2001