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2005-09-23
Boston, MA, Chicago, IL. Home Depot Faces Racial Harassment & Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

The federal government has brought a lawsuit against Home Depot, the world's largest home improvement chain, and the company also is a plaintiff in a sexual harassment suit now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. This week the Associated Press reported that the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against Home Depot charging that a black employee was the target of racial harassment, and then fired when he complained. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Boston on behalf of Mark Reid, a forklift operator, who says his Home Depot supervisors at a store in Saugus, Massachusetts, made frequent offensive remarks related to his race, and that Home Depot management condoned racial comments made by one of Reid's co-worker. Home Depot fired Reid in May 2004. The EEOC took up Reid's case, and filed their lawsuit this week after efforts to resolve the case with Home Depot failed. The retailer put out a press release on the case, says it had a "zero tolerance policy" against discrimination, and was "extremely disappointed" by the allegations. "We look forward to addressing these allegations with the EEOC," the statement said. Meanwhile, Home Depot is also named as defendant in a case pending before the United States Supreme Court brought by Kellie R. Watson, a Home Depot worker in Chicago, who alleges that she was sexually harassed and raped by her Home Depot supervisor in the year 2000. The Home Depot worker has testified that her encounter with her Home Depot supervisor was "the most embarrassing, humiliating, and degrading thing that has ever happened to me." She claims her supervisor "used his position of authority in a most inappropriate, unethical, and unprofessional manner" and that he "used every opportunity to punish me for not sleeping with him again." "I feel certain that my chance for a successful career with Home Depot has ended," Watson wrote. "This should not have happened to me. I should not have to choose between my values and my career. No woman, NO ONE, should ever have to make that choice. This cannot ever happen again." The Supreme Court will decide whether or not it will hear Watson's case on Sept 26th.

What you can do: Home Depot has been the subject of a number of EEOC lawsuits. The largest suit was settled in the year 2000 over sexual discrimination. The company agreed to a record-setting $104 million settlement against charges that the company discriminated in the hiring and promotion of its female workers. Home Depot has also been sued for racial discrimination. For earlier stories on a similar topic, search Newsflash by "EEOC".










 
 
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