BECKLEY, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced Rhino Energy WV LLC must pay $62,500 and furnish significant relief to resolve allegations of national origin discrimination.
The mining company harassed Michael Jagodzinski due to his Polish ancestry according the lawsuit. Derogatory ethnic slurs and displaying offensive graffiti about him on the mine walls were allegedly common in the workplace.
The EEOC maintains Rhino Energy WV failed to take prompt action to stop the harassment. Instead, the company allegedly fired Jagodzinski as retaliation for his harassment complaints.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans discrimination and harassment based on national origin. It further forbids employers from firing employees over harassment complaints.
"If an employee complains about national origin harassment, the employer must carry out an investigation and stop any unlawful harassment,” said EEOC Philadelphia district director Spencer H. Lewis Jr. “Engaging in retaliation against the victim of harassment does not make the problem go away--instead it significantly increases the risk of an EEOC enforcement action."
A five-year consent decree, resolving the lawsuit, enjoins Rhino Energy WV from violating Title VII on the future.