EEOC files race discrimination suit against Minnesota employer

On Behalf of | Nov 9, 2016 | Employment Discrimination |

In this day and age, some people may be surprised to hear that racial discrimination in the workplace is still an ongoing issue. This is exemplified by one case in which two workers in Minnesota were reportedly subject to illegal discrimination and harassment in the workplace based on their race.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of two African-American employees who claim that their employer, Hugo-based JL Schweiters Construction, permitted a supervisor to repeatedly commit acts of harassment against the workers via racial slurs. The workers were employed in the construction industry.

The employees began working as carpenters for their employer in autumn 2012. They both maintain that a Caucasian field manager repeatedly called them racial slurs and committed threats of violence. The field manager would inform the workers that he had a firearm and could shoot employees of certain races. The workers claimed that the field manager also would use electrical wire to form a noose, telling the workers that he could hang them. The workers also claimed that the field manager used wood to construct a cross, and informed the workers that he would burn it in their yards. According to the workers, other supervisors in the company knew of the field supervisor’s actions, but did not step in to stop it.

One worker left the company in February 2013 and the other worker left the company in December 2013. Both filed complaints against their employer with the EEOC. In February 2016, the EEOC informed the employer about the employees’ complaints. An attempt to settle the allegations was made, but a settlement could not be reached. The EEOC is requesting that the employer provide the employees with compensation for the financial losses that the employees suffered, as well as compensation for their emotional suffering. The EEOC also asks that the employer institute policies in the workplace that would prevent similar situations from happening in the future.

Race discrimination in the workplace is illegal and is entirely unacceptable in the 21st century. Workers in Minnesota who feel they have been the victims of race discrimination in the workplace should take the steps they deem necessary to remedy the situation, including taking legal action if appropriate.

Source:, “Feds sue Hugo contractor, alleging firm tolerated racial harassment of 2 workers,” Nick Woltman, Nov. 4, 2016