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Ryder, Staffing Firm Settle Race Bias Suit for $2 Million (1)

May 26, 2021, 9:06 PM; Updated: May 26, 2021, 10:44 PM

Ryder Integrated Logistics Inc. and Kimco Staffing Services will pay $1 million each to settle an EEOC lawsuit that accused the companies of racially discriminating against Black employees in California, the civil rights agency said.

Employees at a Ryder facility in Moreno Valley, Calif., were subjected to a hostile work environment in which colleagues used racial slurs and epithets, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They also faced discrimination in assignments, training, promotions, and terminations in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the agency said Wednesday.

After a Black employee complained about harassment, neither company stepped in to investigate and chose instead to fire the worker, the commission said.

“This case underscores the unfortunate reality that racial harassment and retaliation remain a problem in American workplaces,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte Burrows in a statement. “The EEOC will continue to use outreach, education, and enforcement when necessary to ensure that employers—and staffing agencies—understand their obligation to prevent and correct unlawful harassment and ensure that workers can raise concerns without fear of reprisal.”

The EEOC in the past month has also reached race discrimination settlements with food processing company JBS USA LLC and Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Co.

The proposed consent decrees in the Ryder and Kimco lawsuit, which must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, require the companies to make changes that include creating a new discrimination complaint tracking system and rehiring workers, the agency said.

“The claims in this particular case arose out of unfortunate events between employees of a former staffing vendor,” a spokesperson for Ryder System Inc., the parent company of Ryder Integrated Logistics, said in an emailed statement. “While Ryder management was not involved, and we were not aware of complaints related to the events while the individual was employed by the staffing vendor, we are taking responsibility because the alleged conduct occurred on our premises.”

The consent decree isn’t an admission of any wrongdoing, the spokesperson said.

“Ryder has long encouraged employees to raise any issues to management’s attention, and has well established policies, procedures, and reporting mechanisms in place to prevent, detect and/or correct race discrimination and retaliation,” the spokesperson said, adding that it voluntarily agreed to settle the case so “we can better focus our energy on continuing to detect and prevent such conduct in the future.”

Kimco representatives didn’t respond to a phone call requesting comment.

EEOC attorneys in Los Angeles represented the commission. Fox Rothschild LLP and Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete LLP represented Ryder. Pettit Kohn Ingrassia Lutz & Dolin PC and Fisher Phillips LLP represented Kimco.

The case is EEOC v. Kimco Staffing Services, C.D. Cal., No. 5:19-cv-01838, consent decrees filed 5/24/21.

(Updated to add comment from Ryder.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Papscun in Washington at dpapscun@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga at jcasuga@bloomberglaw.com; Martha Mueller Neff at mmuellerneff@bloomberglaw.com

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