Ryder Integrated Logistics Inc. and Irvine-based Kimco Staffing Services Inc. have agreed to pay $1 million each to settle a lawsuit alleging they subjected Black workers to racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation.
The action, filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), claims the actions of the companies violated federal law.
The marks the second time the two businesses have been sued by the EEOC for the same issues. The previous lawsuit was filed in late 2019.
The EEOC’s current lawsuit alleges that Black employees assigned by Kimco to Ryder’s Moreno Valley facility, along with Black workers directly hired by Ryder, were subjected to ongoing and unwelcome harassment based on their race.
The federal agency contends Miami-based Ryder and Kimco created a hostile work environment by allowing employees to use racial slurs and epithets towards Black coworkers. The EEOC alleges that after a Black employee complained about racial harassment, neither Ryder nor Kimco corrected the situation, opting instead to fire the worker within days of the complaint.
The lawsuit additionally claims Ryder and Kimco discriminated against Black workers in regard to terms and conditions of employment, training, promotion, discipline and termination.
“This case underscores the unfortunate reality that racial harassment and retaliation remain a problem in American workplaces,” EEOC Chairwoman Charlotte A. Burrows said in a statement. “Confronting these issues is of critical importance to the EEOC and our nation.”
In a statement issued Wednesday, Ryder said the claims in the current case arose out of events between employees of a former staffing vendor.
“While Ryder management was not involved and we were not aware of complaints related to the events while the individual was employed by the staffing vendor, we are taking responsibility because the alleged conduct occurred on our premises,” the company said.
Ryder said it has long encouraged employees to raise issues of concern to management’s attention and that the company has policies, procedures, and reporting mechanisms in place “to prevent, detect and/or correct race discrimination and retaliation.”
Representatives with Kimco could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Burrows said her agency will continue to use outreach, education, and enforcement when needed to ensure that workers can raise concerns without fear of reprisal.
Under conditions of a consent decree, Ryder will appoint an employment opportunity coordinator and create a tracking system for race-based harassment, discrimination and retaliation complaints. The company will review and revise its policies prohibiting discrimination and distribute them to all employees. Ryder will also create an internal complaint process and discrimination training for all workers.
Kimco has entered into a consent decree with the EEOC that includes providing neutral references for the claimants along with re-hiring of claimants who wish to return to Kimco.
The company will retain a bilingual third-party EEO monitor and implement policies and procedures to prohibit discrimination and harassment, which will then be disseminated to all employees, It will also establish a complaint procedure and train all employees on discrimination and harassment.
Source: Orange County Register