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Bakery in San Jose, California Sued for Harassment

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit against Peters’ Bakery in San Jose for national origin and race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC brought the suit on behalf of Marcela Ramirez, a sales clerk for the bakery, who claims that the bakery owner repeatedly made derogatory racial and ethnic jokes and comments to her and, ultimately, attempted to terminate her because of her national origin. The suit indicates that the owner made comments such as “Mexicans would rather lie than tell the truth” and “I never trusted your kind of people” to Ramirez. EEOC requested for an injunction from a federal district court in California to prevent the bakery from discharging Ramirez, which the court granted.  The court stated in its injunction that allowing Ramirez to be terminated might discourage other employees from filing charges with the EEOC and will interfere with the agency’s enforcement mission.

Title VII prohibits employers from harassing employees because of their national origin or race. Harassment may include offensive or derogatory remarks regarding an employee’s ethnicity.  When offensive conduct such as ethnic slurs occurs in the workplace and creates a hostile work environment, employers must take steps to prevent and correct the conduct. The offensive conduct may come from supervisors, coworkers, or even nonemployees such as customers or the employer’s business partners.

For an employer to avoid liability for harassment, it must be able to show that it exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any harassing behavior. Additionally, it must prove that the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective measures made available by the employer to do something otherwise to avoid harm. Therefore, employers must communicate clearly to employees its policies and procedures for addressing complaints of harassment based on a protected category and train managers on how to respond to reports of harassment.

Harassment has no place in the workplace. If you believe you have been the subject of unlawful harassment or discrimination, the attorneys at Dejban Law can help you craft an effective strategy for pursuing your claims in court. Contact us now by email at info@dejbanlaw.com or by phone us at (818) 325-3820 for a free and confidential initial consultation.