Allegations of racial discrimination are something that all Colorado businesses must take extremely seriously, whether the company wants to believe the claims are true or not.
This week, it was reported that a federal jury in Denver awarded plaintiffs in a racial discrimination case $15 million in damages, including $14 million in punitive damages.
The allegations were made by Commerce City warehouse workers who accused a California-based trucking company of having policies that promoted racial segregation and name calling.
According to the lawsuit against Matheson Trucking and Matheson Flight Extenders Inc., black workers and white workers performed their job duties on opposite sides of the warehouse, and white supervisors used racial slurs when talking to black workers, the Denver Post reported.
Six of the seven workers who sued are blacks and the seventh was a white worker who was allegedly fired after standing up to his supervisors on behalf of the black workers.
The description of the treatment was quite alarming, and plaintiffs were able to provide evidence including internal company memos that showed supervisors targeted black workers for firing during company downsizing.
In a press release after the jury’s decision, the CEO of Matheson Trucking, Inc. maintained that the verdict “paints a negative picture and a false perception” of the family-owned and operated business, which the press release said has a “long history of anti-discrimination policies and practices.”
Even if it is true that company officials had no idea what was going on at their Colorado branch, it isn’t an excuse that the court will accept.
For that reason, it’s extremely important to have company policies in place that prevent this kind of thing from happening. For help with this, speak to one of our attorneys who excel in employer risk management and counseling.