American Industrial Sales Corp doing business as RAK Industries, sells road construction barricades and signs. It also sells a variety of construction safety and personal safety items, as well as nuts and bolts, tools and personal safety equipment.
The Rochester, NY company website touts it as “one of the country’s most rapidly growing resources of highway, safety and industrial products to municipalities, police, fire, parks and recreation departments, schools, hospitals, golf courses and resorts across the United States.” The website also mentions the company’s “full service solution” for customers and “personal attention.”
It’s the personal attention to female employees, rather than customers, that got the owner in trouble.
The owner, vice president and sales staff of RAK Industries – according to the EEOC investigation and subsequent lawsuit – sexually harassed 18 female employees. The harassment includes inappropriate touching, unwelcome sexual advances and vulgar sexual comments, says an EEOC source.
Tragically, four victims were teenaged girls.
According to the lawsuit filed by the EEOC, the William O. Bensenson Rehabilitation Pavilion subjected black, Haitian and Jamaican employees to harassment and retaliation. Bensenson Rehabilitation is owned by Flushing Manor Geriatric Center, Inc.
The company permitted harassing comments based on race or national origin by managers and residents. The employees involved included nursing staff, as well as workers in the food service, housekeeping and recreation departments. Black and Caribbean employees were subjected to stricter disciplinary actions than other employees. When the employees complained about the discrimination to management, actions were taken to illegally retaliate against them.
Employees formally complained about the discrimination to management in 2002, 2003 and 2004, without any results. Instead, once the suit was filed, the employer made harassing phone calls to an employee’s relative, trying to force the worker to drop the suit.
In additional terms of the suit, the employer must hire a qualified Human Resources professional, and implement extensive anti-discrimination training. They must also report any internal complaints to the EEOC for five years.
“The EEOC commends the five charging parties for their courage in bringing this matter to our attention,” said EEOC Attorney Sunu P. Chandy. “Cases involving race and national origin are EEOC priorities.”
EEOC New York District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. added, “Employers must be warned that retaliation, such as discouraging employees from filing discrimination charges, is itself illegal.”
Sadly, this was not the only suit based on racial discrimination in recent months.
Walgreen recently settled a suit by paying $20 million to employees. The suit alleged that the nation’s largest drugstore retailer limited opportunity for African-American pharmacists and managers by assigning them only to underperforming stores in predominantly black neighborhoods.
The suit was initially brought by 20 Walgreen employees in St. Louis, Tampa, Kansas City and Detroit but eventually spread to more than 1,000 African-American employees throughout the nation.
Earlier this year, Quietflex Manufacturing Company, L.P. recently paid $2.8 million for discriminating against Hispanic employees. The lawsuit alleges that 78 Latino employees were discriminated against in the company’s transfer policies, and in pay.
Quietflex produces flexible air conditioning ducts and components. The company has repeatedly denied all wrongdoing in the case.
According to the suit, Hispanic employees at the company were denied higher-paying jobs in departments with better working conditions. After a work stoppage to protest the discrimination, the EEOC alleges that Quietflex illegally retaliated against the employees by terminating them. All the employees were rehired shortly afterward.
More recently, Nike settled with the EEOC for allegations of discrimination against African-American employees at its Niketown store on posh Michigan Avenue in Chicago. The suit alleged that African-American employees were given only part-time jobs in the lowest paid positions of cashier and stockroom clerk. Sales and management positions were never posted, denying the black workers equal opportunity.
This disparity deprived the African-American workers of benefits, including health insurance, employee discounts and paid vacations.
The suit also alleged that African-American workers were searched when leaving the store, while Caucasian workers were not. In addition, African-American workers were subject to stricter penalties for attendance problems and other violations of store policy.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is illegal to deny any person employment due to race, color, sex, religion or national origin. That includes providing a work environment free from illegal harassment and different treatment based on race. In addition, Title VII recognizes that a company that creates an intolerable environment essentially forces the employee to resign. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against someone because he or she has made a complaint of illegal discrimination.
All of the companies mentioned in this article deny any wrongdoing.
All citizens should be afforded equal opportunities, especially when it comes to employment. You should not be segregated, separated or otherwise discriminated against because of certain characteristics. You should be free to work in a place that you will not be harassed or made to feel intimidated. There are general federal laws that offer some protection for the workforce. Many states have chosen to adopt their own laws or to expand on the federal. New York has greatly broadened the terms for which constitutes discrimination and offers more protection for people who work in small businesses as other statutes usually apply to employers with more than 15 employees.
The State Division of Human Rights is there to offer education about and to enforce New York (NY) Job Discrimination Law in the Workplace. If because of your race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, predisposing genetic characteristics, sex, age, marital status, disability, military status, or prior arrest or conviction record, or if you believe you have been retaliated against for opposing unlawful discriminatory practices you feel that you have been harassed, segregated or otherwise discriminated against you may have you may be able to file a complaint.
Under New York (NY) Job Discrimination Law in the Workplace the definition of disability is pretty broad and includes a physical, mental or medical impairment resulting from anatomical, physiological, genetic or neurological conditions which prevents the exercise of a normal bodily function or is demonstrable by medically accepted clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques.
New York (NY) job discrimination law in the workplace protects employees from discrimination in all terms and conditions of employment, including, hiring, firing, layoff, harassment, selection, promotion or demotion, performance evaluation, transfer, pay, tenure, discipline, conditions of employment (working hours, pay, fringe benefits, etc.), seniority, union representation, and so on. Employers are expected to make reasonable accommodations whenever possible for individuals with a handicap or disability.
In New York, sexual discrimination law in the workplace can be found under the state’s Human Rights Law. It states that sexual discrimination in the workplace is illegal. This includes refusing to hire, firing, or determining compensation or working terms or conditions based on an individual’s sex. It also includes failure to promote because an employee is male or female, advertising and recruitment that favors one gender over another and sexual harassment.
In New York, employers are those who have four or more employees and include labor organizations and employment agencies. This differs from federal law because Title VII refers only to those employers who have fifteen or more employees. It excludes employees who are in domestic service, individual contractors and those employed by their parent, spouse or children.
In New York you have one full year to file a claim if you feel your rights have been violated. This also differs from federal law which allows only 180 days. To file the claim, you need to contact the New York State Division of Human Rights. A claim submission should include all the necessary names and contact information as well as a detailed explanation of the incident. Then, the Division will send a copy of the complaint to your employer and give him or her a chance to respond.
An investigator will take over your case and find evidence to help him or her make a probable cause or no probably cause decision on the case. If the investigator does find probable cause, you and your employer will enter conciliation or go to public hearing.
It is also possible in New York to go directly with the state courts instead of with the Division. However, if you want to go through the federal court system, you’ll need to first request a “Right to Sue” letter from the EEOC. A lawyer can help you decide which route is best for your specific situation.
Employers and employees alike must always stay informed about their rights and responsibilities when it comes to sexual discrimination in the workplace. Employers should also always keep posted an updated New York Labor Law Poster as a resource in the workplace.
After researching the New York anti-discrimination policies in the workplace, I see that they are very similar to most of the other states in the U.S. However, the New York State Division of Human Rights only enforces the policies that are set forth by the New York state anti-discrimination laws. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces the federal laws, which may differ slightly from the state laws. One law that is a requirement for employers in New York is to display the New York state discrimination posters.
The New York state discrimination posters are required to be displayed in every workplace. These posters must be placed in an area where employees are known to gather. This is so every employee will have a good chance of seeing the New York state discrimination posters. After all, what good are laws if the people they protect don’t know about them?
The New York state discrimination posters outline the fact that no employee can be discriminated against because of their race, religion (creed), color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, military status, disability, marital status, predisposing genetic characteristics, or prior arrest or conviction. Obviously, there are some exceptions to these laws especially when an employee has an arrest and/or a conviction. If a person feels that he/she has been a victim of discrimination, that person should file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights.
The discrimination complaint must be filed within one year of the last act of discrimination. The alleged victim can either visit or call one of the regional offices of the New York State Division of Human Rights. If the person is unable to personally visit a regional office, he/she must still sign the official complaint.
Remember that both the employer and the employee have a responsibility to stop discrimination in the workplace. The New York state discrimination posters help to stop unfair practices at work. These posters allow employees to know their rights so that they can protect themselves at work.