A specialty meat company in Louisiana was ordered to pay a $67,000 settlement to a former employee over allegations of pervasive racial discrimination at its two locations outside Lafayette, the Charlotte Observer reports.
Don’s Specialty Meats was accused of allowing its general manager to constantly use derogatory language and racial slurs against a Black worker, who was one of only two Black workers out of 79 employees, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s federal court filings.
“Harassment based on race and the use of racial slurs is intolerable, and an employer must act to assure that harassment of this kind is prevented and, if it happens, is vigorously addressed,” EEOC trial attorney Peter Theis said in a news release announcing the settlement.
According to the terms of the agreement, Don’s Specialty Meats must pay the employee $50,000 in damages and $17,500 in back pay. Additionally, the company is “barred from discussing the litigation if asked for a job reference regarding the former worker and must wipe it from his personnel file.”
Because of the settlement, employees will now undergo training on anti-discrimination laws, the company will update its written anti-discrimination policies, and the EEOC will require compliance reports.
In August, the EEOC said they first contacted Don’s Specialty Meats when the former employee filed a charge of discrimination. After an investigation, the agency concluded that there was viable evidence that the company had discriminated against him.
When the two parties could not settle the dispute out of court, the EEOC said, a federal complaint was filed in the Western District of Louisiana on Sept. 24.
The lawsuit states that Don’s Specialty Meats hired the former employee back in 2018 and he worked at both the Scott, Louisiana facility as well as the original location in nearby Carencro.
While he was employed at the company, the general manager repeatedly referred to him as “Black boy,” “the Black boy” or “little Black guy,” the EEOC said, and he was listed on the work schedule as “Black boy.”
Racial slurs were often used at Don’s Specialty Meats, the lawsuit states and the general manager was accused of “routinely using the n-word and referring to another Black employee’s baby as such.” When the company was searching to hire new workers, the employee was informed that prospective applicants “just can’t be Black,” the EEOC said. Also, if trash needed to be picked up on the roadside, it was always “the Black boy” that was given the assignment.
The situation reached a fever pitch in 2020 when a supervisor repeatedly called the employee a "racial slur and other insulting names in front of his coworkers, the complaint added. After bringing his complaints to management, the employee was sent home for the day, the EEOC noted. Upon his return to work, he was reportedly informed the supervisor would not be punished and according to the lawsuit, the general manager said that he loved the employee, calling him with a derogatory term.
The EEOC said the employees said the only discipline that his supervisor ever faced was being told she couldn’t wear her Don’s Specialty Meats T-shirt for a day.