The former employee will receive $165,000 and the company must provide anti-harassment training under a settlement with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
A man who endured death threats and racial slurs while working in a Big 5 store in Oak Harbor, Island County, will receive $165,000 through a settlement that also requires the sporting goods chain to train employees on preventing racial harassment and retaliation.
The Seattle office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit last year alleging a management trainee at the store, Robert Sanders, was subjected to ongoing racial harassment and death threats in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The only African-American employee at the store, Sanders was subjected to what the EEOC described as a “litany of unremedied racial comments” from store management, and an assistant store manager threatened to lynch him. Sanders, stressed by the harassment and retaliation after reporting the harassment to upper management, took leaves from work and was eventually fired.
“Whidbey Island is a small place, and I didn’t want to leave my house,” Sanders said in a statement when the EEOC filed the suit. “I felt like Big 5 took away my ability to not just succeed at work, but to simply live my life with dignity and without fear.”
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Big 5 will be required to provide training and ensure it has appropriate anti-harassment policies in place under a three-year consent decree that resolved the government’s lawsuit, the EEOC said Tuesday. The El Segundo, Calif.-based retail chain did not respond to a request for comment.
The decree also provides Sanders with lost wages and other compensation.
“This settlement should send a clear signal to all employers,” said EEOC Seattle Field Office director Nancy Sienko.