On the Border Mexican Grill has been sued for race harassment by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The lawsuit alleges that the On the Border’s Holtsville, N.Y., location regularly subjected one of their African-American cooks to verbal harassment and offensive language by coworkers.
According to the lawsuit, the harassment included a variety of regularly used racial slurs and terms, such as “n—–r” and “black bean.” The EEOC claims that the management of On the Border was aware of the harassment and often present while it took place.Management failed to stop the abuse or discipline any of the employees who consistently harassed the cook, citing their fear that the employees would retaliate and quit.
Title VII of the CivilRights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion,sex and national origin as well as retaliation for opposing or reportingdiscrimination. Title VII also allows for recovery of compensatory or punitivedamages in the case of intentional violations. The lawsuit by the EEOC claimsintentional violations, due to management’s failure to properly respond to theharassment, even after the incidents had been reported and witnessed first-hand.
“It is indefensible forthis sort of language to be used so freely and repeatedly in the workplace. Anemployer cannot allow such ongoing harassment to occur while doing nothing tocorrect it… this type of harassment demonstrates why the EEOC’s work is ascrucial now as it has ever been,” said EEOC representatives following thefiling of the lawsuit.