Managers’ Racist Road Show Grinds to Halt

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.

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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.

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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.

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Case Outcomes

Monetary fine: $15,000

Employer must:

  • 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.
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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.
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