Business

Fresno company allowed harassment of Hispanic workers, lawsuit alleged. Now they’ve settled

The Robert E. Coyle United States Courthouse in Fresno, where a judge approved a consent decree settling a 2017 lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Pape Material Handling over harassment of Hispanic employees at its Fresno location. The $650,000 settlement was announced on May 14, 2019.
The Robert E. Coyle United States Courthouse in Fresno, where a judge approved a consent decree settling a 2017 lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Pape Material Handling over harassment of Hispanic employees at its Fresno location. The $650,000 settlement was announced on May 14, 2019. Fresno Bee file photo

Papé Material Handling has settled a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of Hispanic employees at the company’s Fresno location who alleged that they were victims of harassment based on their ethnicity.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced the $650,000 settlement on Tuesday. The agency filed the lawsuit against the national forklift sales and rental company in September 2017 after receiving complaints that Papé allowed ongoing harassment of its Latino employees and did nothing to stop it. According to the EEOC, the harassment included mocking employees’ accents and using derogatory ethnic slurs.

“The EEOC claimed that the company failed to address employee complaints, leaving employees to quit as their only recourse to avoid the misbehavior,” the agency said in a statement.

Harassment based on national origin violates Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“People should not have to give up their livelihood because they are harassed at work,” said Melissa Barrios, director of the EEOC’s Fresno office. “We encourage employers to ensure that their policies as well as their practices address and remedy complaints of harassment in a timely fashion.”

The three-year consent decree between the EEOC and the company includes more than the monetary settlement.

Papé, which has more than 90 dealerships in the western U.S., agreed to hiring an equal employment opportunity consultant; conduct internal audits, review and revise its anti-harassment policies, create complaint procedures, track harassment and discrimination complaints, and provide training for its hiring and human resources staff.

The company must also submit annual reports to the EEOC to verify that it is following the requirements of the consent decree approved by a U.S. District Court judge in Fresno.

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