Overview: A Black man couldn’t believe it when a white colleague said to him, “I love Black people; everyone should own one.”
The scenario: Shortly after taking a sales position with Baccarat, a retail store in New York City, Craig Madison, a Black man, noticed that one of his white coworkers didn’t like Blacks very much.
On an almost-daily basis, the coworker made disparaging comments about African Americans. For instance, the coworker said to Madison: “I love Black people; everyone should own one.”
The coworker was also curious about Black women. He asked Madison why African American females are hard, aggressive and masculine. The male coworker also wanted to know why Black women don’t get married. And he said, “Why do Black and Hispanic women have so many babies?”
The colleague also made several disparaging comments about Black men, including, “Why do they wear their pants hanging down?” About once a week, the coworker said to Madison, “Black men are more like children.” He also stated that Black people don’t have hearts or values.
And it wasn’t just the coworker who made offensive statements. The store’s general manager told Madison that if she went to Harlem, she’d wear a bulletproof vest. She also suggested that Blacks would try to steal her designer handbag.
After Madison complained about the offensive comments, Baccarat required everyone to attend racial-sensitivity training. However, the training failed to end the harassment.
Unable to put up with the behavior any more, Madison quit, then contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Legal challenge: The EEOC sued Baccarat for race discrimination.
The ruling: The company lost. Baccarat agreed to pay $100,000 to make the lawsuit disappear.
Based on EEOC v. Baccarat.
(From the Oct. 9, 2020, issue of HR Manager’s Legal Alert for Supervisors. To download the current issue of the publication right now, please click here.)