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Black Californians are detailing racism they claim to have experienced at warehouses from Latino co-workers after companies in the state settled lawsuits with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
“We are seeing an increase in larger race harassment cases,” Anna Park, regional attorney for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Los Angeles district office, told the Los Angeles Times. “The nature of them has gotten uglier. There’s a more blatant display of hatred with the N-word, with imagery, with nooses. All the violence you’re seeing in the news, it is manifesting in the employment context.”
Cardinal Health, a medical supplier, and Ryder Integrated Logistics, a transport company subsidiary, settled the EEOC lawsuits last year after accusations that supervisors ignored harassment claims at the warehouses located in California’s Inland Empire area. The Los Angles Times spoke to a handful of the Black employees, who detailed the racist names and discrimination they allegedly faced from Latino co-workers and others.
“‘Hey, monkey! Yeah, you!’ and waved a banana in her hand. A group of women burst out laughing,” Benjamin Watkins told the LA Times of what a Latina co-worker said to him at a Moreno Valley warehouse.
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“When they look you right in the eye and call you the N-word to your face, that’s dehumanizing,” a Black Ontario warehouse employee, Leon Simmons, told the outlet, referencing the racial slurs he witnessed his Latino co-workers using.
The accusations also included claims that Black employees were often given more labor-intensive jobs compared to other employees, were denied promotions, and faced retaliation from both Latino and White supervisors if they complained about harassment and racism, according to the court filings reviewed by the LA Times.
About 300 Black workers are set to receive compensation stemming from the settlements, which also include payments from a staffing service company that helped supply workers to Ryder. The cases mark the largest race bias suits brought forward by the federal government in California over the last 10 years, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Cardinal agreed to pay $1.45 million and Ryder agreed to pay $1 million. Ryder’s staffing service, Kimco, also agreed to pay $1 million to the Black workers. AppleOne, a staffing service used by Cardinal, agreed to hold harassment trainings in both English and Spanish and monitor any racism and abuse.
Data reported by the LA Times shows that the EEOC has won 171 race discrimination settlements involving Black employees over the last 10 years, 59 cases involving Latino workers, and 12 involving Asian workers. The agency has won six settlements involving White employees.
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The outlet also found that a third of the cases brought forward by EEOC offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles over the last decade involved Latino discrimination against Black co-workers, while White discrimination against Black co-workers made up another third of the cases at the offices.
“Two decades ago discrimination was viewed as a Black-white paradigm,” Park told the LA Times. “The feeling was minorities can’t be discriminating. But it could be Asians discriminating, it could be Latinos discriminating. Regardless of what color you are, you don’t get a free pass.”
Other workers described how Black employees “started disappearing one by one” after they complained about discrimination, how they reportedly did not receive a pay bump if they were moved to a job with higher-paying wages, and how they repeatedly found racist graffiti in warehouse bathrooms.
Cardinal acknowledged “derogatory graffiti” and said it was promptly removed, according to a court filing. Cardinal Health told Fox News Digital that it does not have “anything to add beyond the facts about the settlement provided in the EEOC press release” following last year’s settlement. A representative directed Fox to statements from the EEOC commending the company and AppleOne for “establishing changes within their workplaces that will have a positive impact on their employees and the communities they reside in.”
AppleOne did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
A recent investigation at Ryder found that both its employees and Kimco staffers had used racist language against Black employees and that managers failed to report the incidents. The companies, however, have denied widespread harassment accusations, the LA Times reported.
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“The claims in this particular case arose out of unfortunate events between employees of a former staffing vendor,” Ryder said in a statement to the LA Times. “While Ryder management was not involved… we are taking responsibility because the alleged conduct occurred on our premises.”
Representatives for Ryder and Kimco did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.