The Justice Department today concurrently filed a complaint and consent decree against the Burke County, N.C., Department of Social Services, alleging that the county did not have an effective harassment and discrimination policy in place and did not provide sufficient training in race harassment and discrimination for its employees and supervisors, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. Title VII is a federal statute which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin or religion.
The consent decree, filed in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of North Carolina, requires Burke County to modify its policy designed to prevent harassment and discrimination in the workplace and provide annual training to Burke County supervisors and employees about discrimination and harassment. The lawsuit was filed with the assistance of the U.S. Attorneys’ office for the Western District of North Carolina.
“Federal law requires employers to maintain a workplace free of racial harassment,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “I commend Burke County for working with the Justice Department to put effective policies and training in place to prevent workplace discrimination and harassment.”
The complaint alleges that while investigating a claim of racial discrimination involving the use of a racial epithet by a Burke County supervisor in the presence of subordinates, the division learned that Burke County supervisors and employees had received no training on race harassment and discrimination, and as such, the supervisor claimed to be unaware of potential consequences for use of a racial epithet that was offensive to her employees.
“Racial harassment and discrimination should not be tolerated anywhere, particularly in the workplace, said Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. “The U.S. Attorney’s office is committed to protecting employees from working in hostile work environments, and will continue to enforce Title VII.”
The filing of this lawsuit and consent decree reflects the department’s ongoing commitment to actively enforce federal employment discrimination laws. Additional information about the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt .