On September 21, 2000, the Raleigh Area Office of the EEOC brought this suit in the Eastern District of North Carolina under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against Georgia Pacific Corporation, one of the world's largest manufacturers of packaging and building materials. The EEOC, who ...
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On September 21, 2000, the Raleigh Area Office of the EEOC brought this suit in the Eastern District of North Carolina under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against Georgia Pacific Corporation, one of the world's largest manufacturers of packaging and building materials. The EEOC, who brought this action on behalf of several of the company's male African-American employees and a male Hispanic employee, sought monetary and injunctive relief, claiming that Georgia Pacific's Butler, N.C. branch had engaged in discrimination based on race and national origin, sex discrimination, and retaliation against those who complained of the company's discriminatory practices. Specifically, the complaint alleged that the company's African-American employees were subjected to a hostile work environment that included racially derogatory comments, graffiti, and name-calling, and that many were fired or constructively discharged due to their complaints about the discriminatory practices. Additionally, the EEOC claimed that a Hispanic employee was subjected to national origin discrimination, primarily through derogatory comments, and sexual harassment, which included explicit comments and gestures and unwelcome touching. This employee was constructively discharged in retaliation for his complaints about the work environment.
On December 20, 2000, the court granted four former Georgia Pacific employees' motion to intervene in the lawsuit. In addition to a Title VII claim, the plaintiff-intervenors (who included the discrimination victims named in the original EEOC complaint) brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The complaint in intervention further detailed Georgia Pacific's discriminatory practices, which included KKK, swastika, and confederate flag graffiti, and discriminatory work policies such as not letting African-American employees use the bathroom when needed. One of the plaintiff-intervenors also claimed that he was denied the opportunity to pursue a promotion due to his national origin.
On February 1, 2001, the EEOC and Georgia Pacific signed a settlement agreement, which set forth that the Hispanic plaintiff-intervenor had received a monetary settlement embodied in a separate agreement and that he agreed to dismiss his claim with prejudice, and that if a satisfactory Consent Decree was entered or if the EEOC prevailed at trial, Georgia Pacific would have to provide training to its management and employees on Title VII and the company's anti-discrimination policy, report to the EEOC semi-annually, and would submit to EEOC oversight.
The Consent Decree was entered on March 30, 2001, and was effective for two years. The class of African-American employees who were working or who had worked at Georgia Pacific's Butler, N.C. facility were awarded $198,417.05. One of the named African-American plaintiff-intervenors was further awarded $1,582.95. The Consent Decree additionally set forth the requirements discussed in the settlement agreement, including mandatory training, reporting, and EEOC oversight, and included a prohibition against discrimination.Jennifer Gitter - 04/05/2013