NEWS

An Alarming Trend

By Matthew Harwood

An Equal Employment Opportunity Commission settlement yesterday is another example of an alarming trend of racial harassment occurring in American workplaces.

In the settlement, Helmerich & Payne International Drilling Co. (H&P) must pay $290,000 in compensatory damages to seven African American employees for its racially hostile work environment.

According to the EEOC press release:

The racial harassment in the case including hangman’s nooses displayed on Rig 108, derogatory racial language, and race-based name calling, all of which was directed at black employees.

The use of hangman's nooses to intimidate H&P's African American employees is shocking, but apparently it's not uncommon. The press release explains:

The EEOC has observed an increasing trend of racial harassment cases over the past two decades, some of which involve hangman’s nooses. Racial harassment charge filings with EEOC offices nationwide have more than doubled from 3,075 in Fiscal Year 1991 to approximately 7,000 in FY 2007

Naomi C. Earp, the EEOC chair, commented:

"A noose is a racial icon that constitutes a severe form of harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Nooses are closely associated with racial intimidation, violence and death, and therefore have no business in the workplace."

She called on corporate America to stamp out discriminatory and racist behavior.

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