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California employees felt unsafe because of workplace harassment

Regardless of state and federal labor and employment laws that are meant to guarantee workers’ rights, many employees in California and throughout the entire U.S. still are discriminated against because of their race, appearance, gender, age or religion.

Discrimination can lead to emotional harm. But sometimes discrimination and harassment can be so severe that workers may not even feel safe on the job. Several salesmen at a California car dealership were subject to extreme verbal abuse and physical threats from a general business manager beginning in 2007. Although it has taken several years for these employees to receive justice, their complaints were finally acknowledged and resolved earlier this month when their lawsuit was settled.

During a staff meeting, in October 2007, a manager called the Afghan-American employees “terrorists” and made violent threats toward the men, the lawsuit stated. The employees reported these threats to other managers, who were not only unsympathetic, but also harassed them because of their nationality.

Because the company did nothing to protect the employees from the harassment, they felt like they had no other choice than to quit their jobs. Another Afghan-American employee, who was a manager at the dealership, was fired in retaliation after he tried to address the harassment.

The five employees made a complaint to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which then filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the California dealership.

The employees were awarded a settlement of $400,000 from the dealership earlier this month. The car dealership has been ordered to post information about this lawsuit at their offices and to provide mandatory workplace discrimination training to its managers. It must also report to the EEOC for the next three years, which will monitor the dealership for further workplace discrimination issues.

Hopefully, this lawsuit against this dealership will send a strong message to their managers and to other employers that workplace discrimination will not be tolerated and that employers need to protect workers so that they can safely do their jobs.

Source: San Jose Mercury News, “Fremont car dealership to pay $400,000 to settle discrimination lawsuit,” Chris De Benedetti, August 8, 2012


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