Company Fired Black British Intern Because of Race and Color, Federal Agency Charged
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – Northwest Cosmetic Labs has agreed to settle a federal suit charging discrimination based on race, color and national origin and retaliation against a black employee for $30,000 and other relief, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced on January 13th.
According to the complaint, the employee, a British subject born in Zimbabwe, was hired after a series of phone interviews for a full-time paid internship in cosmetic formulation. She did not interview in person because she was living in England at the time. Upon her arrival in Idaho Falls, she was told by her supervisor that employees at the company would likely be “surprised” to find out that she was black, since she was British. From the beginning, the EEOC said, she received little to no direction from her supervisors and was rarely given assignments, despite her repeated requests to be given work. Her treatment stood in stark contrast to that of the company’s two other interns, who were both Caucasian. They were given ample opportunity to participate in projects and to receive feedback from supervisors. After consistently receiving different treatment from her white counterparts and hearing more race-based comments, she raised these issues with management. Soon thereafter, the EEOC said, she was fired.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed this suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through conciliation. Under the consent decree settling the suit (EEOC v. Northwest Cosmetic Labs LLC, Civil Action No. 10-608-CWD, U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho) approved by Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale, Northwest Cosmetic Labs will pay the employee $30,000. In addition to the monetary payment, the company will adopt a comprehensive non-discrimination policy and complaint procedure, conduct anti-discrimination training for staff and management officials and submit semi-annual reports to the EEOC detailing any complaints of race discrimination or retaliation that may have arisen in the prior six-month period.
EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo said, "Employment decisions must be based on merit and ability, not race and color. We are pleased that Northwest Cosmetic Labs took this lawsuit seriously and that it will be taking steps to make sure that race and color are not a barrier to success in its workplace.”
“Instead of encountering the exemplary American values of justice and equality, this young visitor was treated to discrimination and punishment for standing up for her rights,” noted EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado. “Fortunately, this country also has an EEOC to fight for discrimination victims, and we will continue to do so.”
Located in Idaho Falls, Northwest Cosmetic Labs formulates and manufactures cosmetic products for third-party customers based throughout North America, Europe and Australia.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.