As small and midsize business owners, it is crucial to understand the gravity of breaking employment laws, particularly those related to racial harassment. A recent lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Parris Pizza Company, the former owner of a Domino’s Pizza franchise, serves as a stark reminder of the penalties associated with allowing racial slurs and other forms of race-based harassment in the workplace.
In this article, we delve into the details of the case and emphasize the importance of fostering an inclusive and respectful work environment.
The HR experts at Asure help small and midsize business owners comply with federal, state, and local employment laws by training managers and employees. Learn more about how Asure can protect your business here.
The Racial Harassment Lawsuit
Parris Pizza Company, located in Olean, New York, faced allegations of permitting racial harassment against its Black employees by their White coworkers. According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the mistreatment included the regular use of racial slurs by two shift managers during every shift.
Disturbingly, one manager even mimicked the voice of a slave owner while referring to an employee as “boy,” while the other manager stood by and laughed.
Despite repeated complaints from the Black employees, Parris Pizza took no action to address the harassment, resulting in one employee feeling compelled to resign.
Violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
The alleged conduct described in the EEOC’s lawsuit against Parris Pizza Company violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits racial discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Employers are legally obligated to prevent and address racial harassment promptly.
The EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. Parris Pizza Co., LLC f/d/b/a Domino’s Pizza, Civil Action No. 1:23-cv-000111-JLS-LGF) in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York after unsuccessful attempts to reach a pre-litigation settlement through conciliation.
The Consequences and Importance of Compliance
In the resolution of the case, Parris Pizza Company agreed to pay $150,000 to the employees who experienced racial harassment and will send a letter of apology to all former employees.
Although Parris Pizza no longer operates any businesses, the consent decree states that if they open new businesses during the decree’s duration, they must implement robust anti-discrimination policies and provide training on federal anti-discrimination laws for all employees.
The racial harassment lawsuit against Parris Pizza Company highlights the severe penalties that businesses may face for allowing racial discrimination and harassment to persist in the workplace. As business owners, it is essential to create an inclusive work environment that values diversity and respects the rights of every employee.
By adhering to federal laws and promptly addressing complaints of racial harassment, businesses can protect their reputation, avoid legal consequences, and foster a workplace where all employees feel safe and valued.
Remember, it is the responsibility of every employer to ensure that racial harassment has no place in their organization.