BUSINESS GOVERNMENT

National Company Allowed Slurs and Other Offensive Conduct, Federal Agency Charges

FRESNO, Calif. — Pape Material Handling, Inc., a nationwide company that sells, rents, and services forklift products, violated federal law when it allowed employees to engage in widespread national origin and race harass­ment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, employees at Pape’s Fresno, Calif., facility engaged in constant harassment of Hispanic employees, including the use of derogatory slurs and mocking of employees’ accents. Moreover, the EEOC charges that the company failed to properly investigate and remedy the harassment, resulting in employees quitting to avoid the unwelcome behavior.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. Pape Material Handling, Inc., Case No.: 1:17-cv-01291-AWI-BAM) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC’s suit seeks monetary damages for the employees, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent and correct any future discrimination.

“Companies must take measures to prevent and remedy workplace harassment, including appropriately investigating claims of harassment and holding supervisors responsible for failing to enforce the companies’ policies and procedures,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC’s Los Angeles District, whose juris­diction includes California’s Central Valley.

Melissa Barrios, director for EEOC’s Fresno Local Office, added, “National origin harassment in the workplace can take many different forms, including ethnic slurs and offensive conduct based on an employee’s accent. Such misconduct is harmful and unacceptable. Employers must ensure that employees who violate the company’s anti-harassment policies are held accountable for their actions.”

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