Court upholds EEOC fine vs. trucking co. over racial harassment

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (June 26, 2014) — The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) $243,000 fine against A.C. Widenhouse Inc., a Concord, N.C-based trucking company.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, A.C. Widenhouse was guilty of multiple incidents of racial harassment against two African-American drivers, Contonius Gill and Robert Floyd Jr.

Beginning in at least May 2007 and continuing through at least June 2008, Mr. Gill was subjected to a constant barrage of racial insults and threats by Widenhouse’s general manager, its dispatcher, and several mechanics and truck drivers—all of whom were white—the EEOC alleged. One day Mr. Gill was presented with a noose and told, “This is for you. Do you want to hang from the family tree?” the lawsuit said.

When Mr. Floyd was hired in 2005, he told the EEOC, the general manager told him he was the company’s “token black.” The general manager also threatened Mr. Floyd with a noose and with having some of his “friends” visit Mr. Floyd in the middle of the night.

A jury in Winston-Salem, N.C., returned a unanimous verdict against Widenhouse. The Fourth Circuit upheld the lower court June 25.

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