Transportation Company and Staffing Agency Created Racially Hostile Work Environment, Federal Agency Charged
LOS ANGELES – Ryder Integrated Logistics, Inc., a Miami-based transportation and supply chain solutions company, and Orange County-based staffing agency Kimco Staffing Services, Inc. will pay $1 million each, for a total of $2 million, and provide significant injunctive relief to resolve the lawsuit alleging that the companies violated federal law by subjecting African American employees to racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, African American employees assigned by Kimco to Ryder’s Moreno Valley, Calif., facility, along with African American employees directly hired by Ryder, were subjected to ongoing and unwelcome harassment based on their race. The EEOC contends that Ryder and Kimco created a hostile working environment by allowing employees to use racial slurs and epithets towards their Black colleagues. The EEOC charged that after an African American employee complained about racial harassment, neither Ryder nor Kimco corrected the situation, instead firing the employee within days of reporting the harassment.
The EEOC's suit also alleged that Ryder and Kimco discriminated against African American workers in the terms and conditions of employment in assignment, training, promotion, discipline and termination.
“This case underscores the unfortunate reality that racial harassment and retaliation remain a problem in American workplaces,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “Confronting these issues is of critical importance to the EEOC and our nation. The EEOC will continue to use outreach, education, and enforcement when necessary to ensure that employers — and staffing agencies — understand their obligation to prevent and correct unlawful harassment and ensure that workers can raise concerns without fear of reprisal.”
Racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation for complaining about it are prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (EEOC v. Kimco Staffing Services, Inc. and Ryder Integrated Logistics, Inc., Case No. 5:19-cv-01838-JFW-SP) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.
In addition to monetary relief, Ryder Integrated Logistics will provide injunctive relief aimed at preventing workplace harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. The consent decree includes the selection of an equal employment opportunity coordinator; the creation of a centralized tracking system for race-based harassment, discrimination and retaliation complaints; the review and revision of policies prohibiting discrimination; and the distribution of those policies to all employees. Additionally, Ryder will create an internal complaint process and discrimination training for all employees.
Kimco Staffing Services has also entered into a consent decree with the EEOC, which includes providing neutral references for the claimants along with the re-hiring of the claimants who desire to return to Kimco. The company also will retain a bilingual third party EEO monitor, create and implement policies and procedures to prohibit discrimination and harassment, which will then be disseminated to all employees, establish a complaint procedure, and train all employees on discrimination and harassment.
Kimco and Ryder will both develop protocols for handling discrimination and harassment complaints raised by temporary employees on assignment.
The decrees will remain under the court’s jurisdiction for the two-year term.
“We have seen an increase in race harassment cases across industries,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office. “It is very important for employers and staffing agencies to be proactive in addressing these issues. We commend Ryder and Kimco for committing to changes and for being positive change agents in addressing race issues.”
Rosa Viramontes, the EEOC’s Los Angeles District director, added, “It is important for employers and staffing agencies to realize that both entities have a responsibility to address harassment and retaliation in the workplace. Ryder and Kimco have put in place measures that will positively impact employees at both companies.”
According to its website, www.ryder.com, Ryder manages fleet, transportation and supply chain functions for over 50,000 customers. The company is headquartered in Miami. According to Kimco’s website, www.kimco.com, the Orange County, Calif.-based staffing company has helped more than 212,000 people find employment since 1986.
Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is also one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.