After Refusing to Promote Black Workers Alabama Plant to Fork Over $150K In Race Discrimination Lawsuit

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Stainless steel company Outokumpu's headquarters is seen in Espoo, Finland February 1, 2012. REUTERS/Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva
Stainless steel company Outokumpu’s headquarters is seen in Espoo, Finland February 1, 2012. REUTERS/Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva

After much back and forth, a discrimination suit filed by the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission last year was finally resolved Friday, Dec. 16, for $150,000 according to Al.com. The complaint accused Outokumpu Stainless USA, LLC of denying Black workers at its Calvert, Ala., plant promotions due to their race.

In its lawsuit, the EEOC explained that the plant’s Black employees — Joshua Burrell, Wallace Dubose, Steven Jones, Daniel Nickelson and Victor Oliver — had applied for team leadership positions that were posted in 2013. The commission confirmed that the men, who had worked various line operator jobs at the plant since 2008, were highly qualified for the positions and had the required management skills and work experience.

Still, that wasn’t enough to get them promoted. Instead, Outokumpu Stainless USA brought in less-qualified white applicants.

Marsha Rucker, the regional attorney for EEOC’s Birmingham District Office, asserted that the steel company’s overt discrimination was a clear violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employers from using race as a factor in making employment decisions.

“Making employment decisions based on race, such as promoting white candidates over more-qualified African-American candidates, strikes at the heart of why Title VII exists,” Rucker said “Although we have come a long way since Title VII was enacted, discrimination still occurs. EEOC will continue to pursue actions against employers who make employment decisions based on race rather than skill and experience.”

An EEOC press release published last year stated that the commission filed the lawsuit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement with Outokumpu. The suit sought monetary damages, including back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.

Al.com reported that Friday’s three-year consent decree also included the company’s plan to implement new polices to circumvent racial discrimination, offer anti-discrimination training to all employees and post anti-discrimination signs throughout the plant.

“This lawsuit should remind employers that the EEOC will take action when a company makes personnel decisions based on the race of the applicants instead of on their experience and qualifications,” said C. Emanuel Smith, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham District Office.

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