U-Haul agrees to Pay $750,000 to Settle EEOC Racial Harassment & Retaliation Suit

U-Haul International Inc., a moving equipment and storage rental company based in Phoenix, Arizona, agreed to pay $750,000 to settle a claim for unlawful employment practices on the bases of race, retaliation, and constructive discharge filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of eight African-American current and former employees in 2011.

The eight African-American employees were subjected to racial slurs and other racially offensive comments by their white supervisor. Their supervisor would regularly refer to them with the “N-word” or as “modern day slaves” or as animals. The complaint filed by the EEOC also alleged that the company with engaged in retaliation after it fired one of the employees who complained of racial harassment to the management of the company. According to the EEOC, “the effect … has been to deprive [the class] of equal employment opportunities and to otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee because of his race, black.”

In its press release the company stated that it “takes full responsibility for its workplace and will always remove individuals who create unacceptable working conditions for our team members. Discrimination and harassment based on race will not be tolerated at any U-Haul location.”

The supervisor’s conduct as alleged by the employees violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which led the EEOC to file a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Western Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

U-Haul agreed to pay $750,000 in monetary relief. Besides, the two-year consent decree resolving the case enjoins U-Haul from discriminating against its employees because of their race and from retaliating against workers who assert their rights under Title VII in the future. The decree requires U-Haul Company of Tennessee to maintain an anti-discrimination policy prohibiting race discrimination, racial harassment, and retaliation, and to provide mandatory training to all employees regarding the policy. Under the decree, current Marketing Company President Carol George will receive additional training on race discrimination and on obligations to report race discrimination, racial harassment, and retaliation. Finally, the company will provide written reports to the EEOC regarding any race discrimination or racial harassment complaints by employees. However, in the decree U-Haul admits no wrongdoing and states that the types of conduct alleged in the EEOC complaint are unacceptable and have no place in U-Haul.

Regional Attorney Faye A. Williams of the EEOC’s Memphis District, stated in a statement issued by the EEOC that “this case serves as a reminder of the important role the EEOC continues to play in eliminating racial harassment in the workplace for many minorities. Employees shouldn’t have to endure harassment and abuse to support their families”.

If you believe you may have a class employment discrimination action against your employer, please contact The Harman Firm, LLP.