Bahama Breeze racial harassment case shows we’ve still got work to do

Sadly, virulent, overt racial harassment at work is not a thing of the past: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced a $1.26 million settlement of a racial harassment and discrimination claim covering 37 black workers at an Ohio location of Bahama Breeze, a national restaurant chain:

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced a class litigation settlement with national restaurant chain Bahama Breeze for $1,260,000 and significant remedial relief in a case alleging repeated racial harassment of 37 black workers at the company’s Beachwood, Ohio location.

In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that Bahama Breeze managers committed numerous and persistent acts of racial harassment against black employees, including frequently addressing black staff with slurs such as “n….r,” “Aunt Jemima,” “homeboy,” “stupid n….r,” and “you people.” Additionally, managers allegedly imitated what they perceived to be the speech and mannerisms of black employees, and denied them breaks while allowing breaks to white employees. Despite the employees’ complaints to management, the alleged race-based harassment continued.

If anyone wants a reminder of why we still need employment discrimination and civil rights laws, look no further than the Bahama Breeze settlement.

EEOC’s press release: http://eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/12-14-09a.cfm

Hat tip: Ross Runkel’s excellent LawMemo Employment Law blog: http://www.lawmemo.com/blog/2009/12/1260000_settles.html

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