GNT Foods Sued By EEOC For Racial Harassment and Retaliation
African-American Employees Subjected Daily to Racial Epithets and Fired for Complaining and Taking Part in EEOC Investigation, Federal Agency Charged
G.N.T, Inc., doing business as GNT Foods, a grocery store located in East Point, Ga., violated federal law when it subjected three African-American employees to a racially hostile work environment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a recently filed lawsuit. The EEOC also charged that GNT fired the employees after they opposed the harassment and filed race discrimination and retaliation charges against the store's owner.
Corey Bussey, Justin Jones and Christopher Evans worked in GNT Foods' meat department. According to the EEOC's lawsuit, throughout their employment, Bussey, Jones and Evans endured the store owner's daily use of the words "n----r," "monkey" and other racial epithets. The owner also prominently displayed racially offensive posters with monkeys displayed on them in the meat department intended to humiliate the black employees. Despite numerous complaints by all three employees, the harassing behavior did not cease. In July, September and December 2015, respectively, Bussey, Evans, and Jones filed discrimination charges with the EEOC. The store owner sought to persuade each of them to withdraw their EEOC charges. However, when each refused, they were fired by GNT Foods in retaliation for their complaints to the EEOC.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. G.N.T., Inc., dba GNT Foods, Civil Action No. 1:17-CV-3545-MHC-LTW) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The federal agency seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Bussey, Jones, and Evans, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination in the future.
"Employers have a duty to protect their workforce from racially offensive conduct and to take immediate corrective action when necessary," said Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the EEOC's Atlanta District Office. "When a company's owner is the one disregarding federal anti-discrimination laws in such a manner, the EEOC's involvement is indispensable to ensure that employee rights are upheld."
Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, district director for the EEOC's Atlanta District Office, added, "Unfortunately, too many employees are discouraged from asserting their rights due to official misconduct such as this. Employers must be cognizant that the EEOC will vigorously prosecute these types of cases to protect our community's workforce."
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.