Oregon has a history of problems with race relations. Therefore, a number of laws and provisions were enacted in order to ensure that workers would no longer be subjected to racism and discrimination at work.
The Cascade Management case demonstrates some of the tensions that still exist in the workplace today in Oregon. Recently a property management company called Cascade was found guilty of creating a hostile workplace environment for an African American worker. The facts of the case highlighted a few problems with the way in which employers handle complaints.
Freddie Brown, who is 60 years of age, was a maintenance technician with Cascade. According to the witness statements and sworn testimony, Brown suffered racial abuse from a site manager named John Simmons. The company was found guilty of the charge despite the fact that it was only one of their managers who had committed the crime.
This ruling relates to an important provision in the workplace laws against discrimination. The employer is supposed to create a friendly working environment in which different people have equal opportunities to join and get promoted. They are also supposed to train and discipline their workers so as to reduce the risk of breaking the law in this area. There are specialist lawyers that follow up any illegal activities in the workplace.
The abuse from the manager identified in the case did not only stop with the maintenance technician. John Simmons allegedly also insulted tenants of African American descent. This clearly showed that there was a racist element to the crime.
Former Cascade Management maintenance technician Freddie Brown, 60, testified before a federal jury that Cascade site manager John Simmons aimed racial epithets at African American tenants of the company-managed apartments. The manager also allegedly used the N-word on several occasions. These are serious actions given the past racism troubles in Oregon.
This was a clear case of an employee bringing his or her own private prejudices to the work place. The employer was held responsible because Cascade had a duty to control the activities of their employees in the work place. It is also important to note that the disciplinary procedures for Cascade Management should have kicked in much earlier so that the manager could be punished.
Punishment for Cascade in the Form of a Fine
A federal jury sat in on the case and recommended that the employer pay the victim compensation worth $325,000. The reason for this was because the company was deemed to have turned a blind eye to the abuse and was therefore responsible for the consequences of it. U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez presided over the case.
The damages were broken down as follows. The non-economic damages came up to $250,000 while the punitive damages were $125,000. Nevertheless, the jury did not find that the firing of the employee in 2014 was racially motivated or even a retaliation for complaining about the hostile workplace. The high punitive damages were because Cascade did not investigate the complaints but merely transferred the manager.
It would appear that the organization was not willing to get rid of the offending manager even when a supervisor warned that any investigation was likely going to lead to the sacking of the manager. This amounted to negligence on the part of the company.
Do Not Suffer Racial Discrimination in Silence
Many employees suffer in silence. If you have been mistreated at work, contact us for further support.