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Federal jury awards worker millions after years of discrimination

Significant improvements have been made in the workplace over the last several decades in California and throughout the entire U.S. Not only are more women holding jobs they were once never considered to be hired for, but the workplace has also become a more diverse environment.

Better employment and labor laws focusing on preventing age, sex, disability religion and race discrimination have certainly helped to pave the way for these improvements, but employers must also be sure to enforce these laws and their own policies in order to maintain a healthy work environment for all employees.

Recently, a federal court jury reviewed a case involving an employee who claimed that his employer failed to protect his rights after his co-workers harassed him and discriminated against him because of his race. This behavior went on for years without being addressed in a proper manner, the lawsuit argued, ultimately causing the man to experience emotional and physical suffering.

The man, who is black, worked as a steelworker at a plant in New York. Lawyers representing the man's employer claimed that it is common for workers in this field to participate in "trash-talking" and that company executives addressed complaints when reported. The company even installed security cameras to help prevent such behaviors, attorneys stated.

However, the employee's lawsuit claims that comments from co-workers amounted to much more than just a few incidents of trash-talking. Between 2005 and 2008, the man had been called numerous names, he was insulted because of his race and he even found a stuffed monkey with a noose around its neck hanging from his car mirror one day after work.

After reviewing the case, a federal court jury concluded that the man's employer was responsible for failing to protect the worker's rights when the harassment first began. This week, the jury awarded the steelworker $25 million in damages.

Violating the rights of employees should not be tolerated. When an employee does believe that his or her rights are not being protected in the workplace, the employee can take legal action to make sure that an employer is held accountable for such violations.

Source: Huffington Post, "ArcelorMittal Lawsuit: Steelworker Awarded $25M In NY Racial Discrimination Case," June 13, 2012