A Chicago transportation company will pay $11 million to end a racial harassment and discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), the agency has reported.
The EEOC filed the suit against Yellow Transportation, Inc. and YRC, Inc. in December 2009. YRC Freight is a leading transporter of industrial, commercial, and retail goods. The company merged with Yellow Transportation in 2008 under the YRC Freight name.
According to the EEOC complain, filed in the Northern District Court of Illinois, black employees were subject to multiple instances of harassment between 2004 and 2008. The discriminatory practices included being subjected to hangman’s nooses, racial derogatory comments, racial epithets and racist graffiti, the complaint alleged.
Additionally, black employees were allegedly subject to more difficult and time consuming work assignments; more frequent and greater discipline; and lower paying job assignments.
According to the EEOC, numerous black employees complained about the conditions, but the company took no corrective action. The EEOC sued the company for failing to address the problems under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
According to the EEOC, Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox has granted preliminary approval to an $11 million consent decree which will prevent the case from going to trial. The decree could benefit as many as 324 African-American employees who worked at the company’s former Chicago Ridge facility as dockworkers, hostlers, janitors, clericals and supervisors.
This is the second major race-related case that the EEOC’s Chicago office has settled with YRC, according to the EEOC.
“The company has now had to pay out $21 million to resolve egregious racial harassment and discrimination at two of its facilities,” stated EEOC Regional Attorney John Hendrickson in a press release. “Employers should not believe that, because they are in an industry – like trucking – that is known for rough working conditions, they can ignore discrimination when it arises. A noose is not an acceptable symbol there or anywhere else – that’s the law.”