Representatives of the EEOC are confident that a recent $4 million victory for former employees of a Paris, Texas Sara Lee factory should go a long way towards reminding employers across the nation that racial discrimination will not be tolerated.
Black employees working at the now closed down factory were repeatedly subjected to a number of injustices, including racial slurs, taunts and graffiti. In addition, they were made to work in the more hazardous areas of the plant, which exposed them to a variety of harmful chemicals and other dangers.
Sara Lee’s parent company, Hillshire Brands Co., has already sent out checks to the 74 former factory employees. The settlement marks the largest award given in Dallas regarding a hostile work environment.
In addition to the $4 million settlement, Hillshire has also been ordered to start implementing training programs to prevent future workplace discrimination and racial harassment. Also, there are reportedly other incidents of racial graffiti in other Texas plants that the company has been ordered to address.
The plaintiffs’ employment attorney, has said that employers should look at this case as a reminder that recognizing and preventing workplace discrimination is vital.
“As an employer, you have an obligation to make sure that people can come to work free of discrimination, and free of fearing for their health and safety. If you see that or learn about it, you need to stop it as an employer. You can’t sit back and hope it goes away or think that it’s OK,” said Kane.