Class of Black Employees Suffered Hangman's Nooses, Racist Graffiti and Epithets, Harsher Discipline, and Tougher Work Assignments, Federal Agency Charged
CHICAGO – An $11 million consent decree entered here today in federal court has ended the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) race harassment and discrimination lawsuit against a major transportation company. Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox granted preliminary approval of the decree.
In its suit, the EEOC charged that Yellow Transportation, Inc. and YRC, Inc. subjected African-American employees at its Chicago Ridge, Ill., facility to a racially hostile working environment and discriminatory terms and conditions of employment. Yellow Transportation operated the facility until its merger with Roadway Express, when the two companies combined operations to form YRC Inc. in October 2008.
Had the case gone to trial, the EEOC was prepared to present evidence that black employees were subjected to multiple incidents of hangman's nooses and racist graffiti, comments and cartoons. The EEOC was also would have presented evidence that Yellow and YRC subjected black employees to harsher discipline and scrutiny than their white counterparts and gave them more difficult and time-consuming work assignments. This would include expert testimony that these practices resulted in statistically significant differences in the way blacks and whites were treated. Numerous black employees, according to the EEOC, had complained about all of these conditions over the years, but the company continually failed to take effective action to correct the problems.
Under the consent decree settling the suit, signed by Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox, $11 million will be paid to the discrimination victims. The Chicago Ridge facility closed in 2009, however, many African-American employees from Chicago Ridge continue to work at YRC's Chicago Heights facility. The Chicago Heights facility was itself the subject of a separate lawsuit by the EEOC against YRC with similar allegations, resulting in a $10 million settlement in 2010. That first consent decree (Chicago Heights) will also protect the victims of the second lawsuit at Chicago Ridge.
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