Investigating workers’ claims of harassment or discrimination in the workplace is certainly important for making sure that employees are disciplined for any type of inappropriate behavior. But when California employers appropriately address and handle formal complaints in the workplace regarding sexual harassment, race discrimination or other concerning issues, these employers are also assuring employees that their rights will be protected in the workplace.
Unfortunately, employees’ complaints are not always addressed appropriately. This only perpetuates a hostile work environment in which employees may feel helpless or too afraid to stand up for their rights. After working in an environment described by several production plant workers for Coca-Cola to be a “cesspool of racial discrimination,” more than a dozen workers have decided to file a lawsuit against the company.
The lawsuit was filed against Coca-Cola earlier this month by 16 workers from two different production plants on the east coast. All of the plaintiffs are either black or Hispanic. One plaintiff commented that she was looking forward to working for the company when she was first hired because of its reputation. However, she claims that after she was hired, she was subjected to numerous demeaning comments made by white workers at the plant.
The lawsuit accuses the company of delegating “less favorable” job duties to minority workers. The lawsuit also claims that the company did not take appropriate actions when workers complained about the discrimination. Some plaintiffs claim that they experienced retaliation in the workplace for raising their concerns about the discrimination. “I thought this was a fair and honest company,” one worker stated.
Since the lawsuit was filed, Coca-Cola has issued a statement claiming that the company does not tolerate discrimination at its plants and that it will investigate the workers’ complaints of racial discrimination. When workers’ complaints are not addressed properly by their employers, employees who believe that their rights have been violated in the workplace may be able to take legal action in order to hold their employers accountable for fostering hostile work environments.
Source: New York Daily News, “Coke’s not it: suit 16 workers call giant ‘cesspool’ of racial bias,” John Marzulli, March 16, 2012