Employment Law Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law and HR

Apr 06, 2015

Harassment Law: Civil rights complaint in Oregon results in $2.4 mil settlement

Harassment & Discrimination 

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) announced it reached a $2.4 million settlement with Daimler Trucks North America. The settlement included six employees who filed civil rights complaints alleging race discrimination. Five other employees withdrew complaints, stating they will go to court.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) announced it reached a $2.4 million settlement with Daimler Trucks North America. The settlement  included six employees who filed civil rights complaints alleging race discrimination. Five other employees withdrew complaints, stating they will go to court. 
The Labor Commissioner’s Complaint, filed on behalf of the people of Oregon, alleged severe civil rights violations, including Daimler employees using racial epithets to refer to African-American colleagues. The Labor Commissioner’s Complaint also charges that the company failed to take corrective action to address racially motivated behavior and treatment.

Under Oregon law, the Labor Commissioner can file an independent complaint when he believes an unlawful practice has occurred. The $2.4 million will be divided between the six employees and a fund will be created for future complainants. Future complaints will be evaluated by BOLI for compensation. Daimler is required to ensure a harassment and discrimination-free workplace.

Nonmonetary settlement terms include:

• Installing a civil rights hotline for workers;
• Supervisor log books to record any future incidents;
• Mandatory supervisor trainings conducted by BOLI or a BOLI-approved entity;
• Training at least two designated managers to conduct internal investigations to address any future incidents;
• Three years of monitoring by BOLI of hotline recordings and supervisor log books.  BOLI interviewed over 60 employees and noted that Daimler fully cooperated and took the issues seriously.

Tips:  Employers should take action to investigate and address complaints as soon as they become aware of a problem. Issues like offensive graffiti, signs, etc. should be removed immediately. Contact your Vigilant employment attorney for assistance with internal investigations, and review Vigilant’s Legal Guide, “Harassment in the Workplace: Avoiding Liability” for additional strategies.

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