Displays of racism are alarming enough, but it’s particularly troubling when they’re acted out by persons in positions of authority. Take for example the case of a restaurant chain’s Senior Vice President and a Region Manager who routinely displayed racism to their employees.[wc_divider style=”dotted” line=”single” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=””]
When they visited their franchise restaurant in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, the SVP and Region Manager were known for their off-color antics.
The SVP, who claims to have responsibility for “all aspects of administration, financial, human resources, marketing and restaurant operation for the entire organization” spewed a variety of inappropriate epithets at the predominantly African-American staff such as “hood rat”, “ghetto whore”, “black motherf***er”, and “n*gger”.
The Pine Bluff restaurant was staffed by all African-American workers, except for one.
Talk about a lack of situational awareness.[wc_box color=”secondary” text_align=”left”]
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An African-American restaurant server and shift leader finally had enough. She complained to her supervisors, but considering the perceived authority of the two higher-level managers, the restaurant didn’t take action. She took her complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and in EEOC. v. H2H Enterprises, Inc. (5:14-cv-00362-JLH), and the company settled in a pre-litigation agreement.
The case doesn’t mention whether the SVP, who oversaw 13 other locations, behaved in a similar manner with other employees. Presumably, the company narrowly dodged a class-action suit based on the bad behavior of these two rogue managers.[wc_divider style=”dashed” line=”single” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=””]
Monetary fine: $15,000
- Cease subjecting employees to a racially hostile work environment or retaliating against any employee who reports allegations of racial harassment.
- Provide training on racial harassment.
- Maintain records of any complaints of racial harassment.
- Report annually to the EEOC.
Lessons Learned from EEOC v. H2H Enterprises
- Establish a clear process for discrimination complaints, one that allows workers to “go around” managers who may be harassers or who are non-responsive to claims of discrimination.
- Document, investigate, and resolve every claim of discrimination.
- If managers are known to tolerate or condone harassing or discriminatory treatment of workers, they should be retrained, reassigned, or just outright rejected.