A California-based trucking company has agreed to settle a discrimination lawsuit with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission after some of its drivers alleged they were discriminated in the workplace because of their race.
According to court documents, SDS Fontana Holdings Inc., formerly Scully Distribution Services of Fontana, CA, will pay $630,000, with $390,000 going to the “charging parties,” and another $240,000 going into a “class fund” for those who the EEOC determines to be entitled to relief in this action.
In its lawsuit filed in September 2011, the EEOC alleges that some former drivers and a manager for SDS, which is now owned by Ryder Systems, were discriminated against because of their race or religious beliefs, a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC did not assert any direct violations against Ryder, which bought SDS in 2011.
Elizabeth Esparza-Cervantes, senior trial attorney for the EEOC, told Land Line on Wednesday, Sept. 26, that the drivers in the discrimination case were both long- and short-haul drivers. She said that the class members no longer work for Ryder, and “for reasons of their own will not be reinstated as part of the settlement in the case.”
“While reinstatement is an available remedy, sometimes people are reluctant to return to a workplace where they felt discriminated against and/or retaliated against for seeking to end discrimination in the workplace,” Esparza-Cervantes said.
The EEOC’s lawsuit alleges that since 2006, the company engaged in discriminatory practices by requiring minority drivers to exceed their driving hours without being paid for shifts that exceeded 15 hours; requiring them to falsify trip sheets and log books; and refusing to pay overnight lodging expenses for minority drivers.
If a minority driver refused a run, the lawsuit alleges the company would seek to “discharge that driver.” However, white drivers were provided with overnight lodging, according to the lawsuit, and the company did not seek to discharge white drivers who refused these runs.
A former manager also alleges he was retaliated against and was fired in 2010, a few weeks after disciplining a site manager at another terminal, for using “racially offensive comments” against a truck driver from East India.
As part of the consent decree, the EEOC “will monitor compliance and future complaints of discrimination based on race, national origin and religion throughout the duration of the decree.”
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