September 2010 - Black Dockworkers and Janitors Subjected to Nooses, Racist Graffiti, and Adverse Working Conditions

CHICAGO – Federal Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox has granted preliminary approval to a $10 million, five-year consent decree in connection with the race harassment and discrimination lawsuit against Roadway Express and YRC, Inc that had been brought by the EEOC. In addition, the decree enjoins future discrimination at the facilities and requires the appointment of a monitor to oversee its implementation.


In the lawsuit, the EEOC claimed that the company subjected black employees at its Chicago Heights, Ill., and Elk Grove Village, Ill., facilities to a racially hostile working environment and racial discrimination in terms and conditions of employment. Roadway Express operated the facilities until its merger with Yellow Transportation, when the two companies combined operations to form YRC, Inc., in October 2008.


The EEOC had gathered evidence that black employees were subjected to multiple incidents of hangmans nooses, racist graffiti and racist comments, and racist cartoons. Evidence also showed that Roadway and YRC subjected black employees to harsher discipline and scrutiny than their white counterparts and gave more difficult and time-consuming work assignments to black employees than white employees.


The consent decree enjoins YRC from engaging in discrimination because of race or retaliating against individuals who complain about racial discrimination; requires the development of revised anti-harassment policies; specific recordkeeping and reporting of complaints; and annual anti-harassment training. The decree also requires YRC to retain consultants to examine the company’s discipline and work assignment procedures and recommend changes to prevent racial disparities. Finally, the decree requires the appointment of a monitor to oversee the companys response to complaints and to report on the company’s compliance with the decree. The monitor will report semi-annually to the court and to the EEOC.


The consent decree covers over 300 African-American employees who worked at the Chicago Heights and Elk Grove Village facilities as dockworkers and janitors from March 2002 to the present. Eligible claimants will be invited to participate in a claims process over the coming months. At the conclusion of the claims process, the decree and distribution schedule will be submitted to Magistrate Judge Cox for final approval.

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