Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suing Stanley Furniture for discrimination
LEXINGTON ó Stanley Furniture Co. Inc. discriminated against black employees when it failed to prevent and correct a racially hostile work environment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed Thursday.
Stanley Furniture manufactures and sells furniture targeted at the residential market. It has several manufacturing facilities, including a facility located in Lexington, where the racial harassment took place, the EEOC said in a press release.
According to the EEOC’s complaint, from 2004 through Aug. 29, 2006, Johnny Wright and other black employees were subjected to a racially hostile work environment in the form of racial slurs directed at them. The racial slurs included, but were not limited to, the use of the “N word.”
The EEOC says Stanley Furniture was aware of the harassment and took no action to stop or prevent it. The number of black employees subjected to racial harassment is currently unknown, but is believed to be less than five, the agency said.
Racial harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement with the company, the press release said. The agency seeks back pay for the employees, along with compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief.
“Employees here in the Carolinas continue to endure the effects of racial discrimination, particularly in the form of derogatory and hurtful racial slurs,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “The Charlotte Office of the EEOC will continue to carry out the agency’s mission to eliminate discrimination in the workplace by taking all steps necessary to address this repulsive conduct.”
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability and retaliation.