Last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a complaint in federal court alleging that a construction company based in Hugo, Minnesota engaged in racial discrimination and harassment against its employees. Two of the company’s former African American employees claimed that they had been harassed on multiple occasions by a white supervisor. They also alleged that the company failed to address the situation when they reported it.
The complaint details threats of violence and acts of racial hostility made against the former employees. That the company engaged in unfair discriminatory practices and created a hostile work environment were among the accusations. The company, in its response to the complaint, accused the EEOC of failing to provide adequate factual support or reasoning for the alleged violations of federal and Minnesota.
The former employees are seeking lost wages and fringe benefits, as well as damages for mental and emotional distress and legal costs. The damages they seek reflect the harm that can result when companies fail to address discriminatory behaviors.
One point worth highlighting in this case is that the former employees who made the allegations joined in the lawsuit as plaintiff-intervenors. This involves the legal process that needs to be followed when a complaint is filed with the EEOC, the agency charged with enforcing federal discrimination laws. The first step in the process is to file a charge of discrimination with the agency. All the laws the agency is responsible for enforcing, with the exception of the Equal Pay Act, require this before an individual is allowed to file a discrimination lawsuit against an employer.
In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this issue.