Sutter Transfer to Pay $30K to Settle EEOC Race Harassment Lawsuit

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Black Truck Driver Racially Harassed by Dispatcher, Federal Agency Charged

SAN FRANCISCO - Yuba City-based Sutter Transfer Service, Inc., a trucking company, and Fiveway, LLC, an earthmoving farming company, have agreed to pay $30,000 to an African-American driver and his white co-worker to settle a federal racial harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC, Lonnie Winstead was targeted by his dispatcher with racially offensive comments and epithets such as "gorilla," "porch monkey," and the N-word.  Other truck drivers witnessed the racial harassment, and one white co-worker even complained to management, but the employers failed to take immediate and effective action and the harassment continued, said the agency.

"People who work expect to be treated with respect," Winstead said.  "I was the only black truck driver working there but not the only one offended when our dispatcher was allowed to give out racist comments right along with work assignments.  No one should put up with discrimination!  I'm glad I exercised my rights and reported this to the EEOC."

Racial harassment is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  After an investigation by EEOC Investigator Geoffrey Gould and after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through conciliation, the EEOC filed the suit (EEOC v. Sutter Transfer Service, Inc., Civ. No. 2-11-CV-02569) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Sacramento Division.  During litigation, Fiveway, LLC, was named as another defendant.

Under the consent decree resolving this lawsuit, Sutter Transfer Service and Fiveway will pay Winstead and the complaining white driver a total of $30,000; provide annual anti-harassment training for all employees; revise equal employment opportunity and anti-harassment policies and complaint procedures; post a notice regarding the lawsuit; and report any complaints of harassment or discrimination to the EEOC for two years.

EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo said, "All employees have the right to work in an environment free from hostility, intimidation, and ridicule.  In this case, the companies failed to live up to their responsibility to provide a workplace free of racial hostility."

EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado added, "We hope this resolution sends a clear message:  Employers that receive notice of racial harassment should take prompt and effective measures to investigate, stop any unlawful conduct, and discipline those found responsible."

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Additional information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.