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Employer Cites the Need to "Sprinkle a Little Salt" as Reason for Terminating Black Employees


In a very different case of race discrimination, a manager commented that he wanted to “sprinkle a little salt” in the workplace. A black employee who was later demoted filed suit. Race discrimination occurs when someone, either an employee or applicant, is treated unfavorably because of their race or personal characteristics associated with a certain race. Here is the scoop on this latest unique expression of workplace bias.

“Sprinkle a little salt.”

According to a recent lawsuit filed by the EEOC against an Oklahoma Automobile detailing business, OnSite Solutions, the area manager informed a black manager that the company was looking to "sprinkle a little salt" at the worksite. The area manager went on to explain what he meant by this phrase. It was their intention to terminate black employees and replace them with “white and Mexicans.” A few days later, the black manager was, in fact, demoted and replaced by a Hispanic manager who proceeded to terminate three black employees. Those three were replaced by two white and one Hispanic employees.

Comment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

Comments such as this one clearly violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a law which prohibits discrimination based on race among other things. In a case such as this one, where an employer demotes one employee and fires three others because they are African-American, a claim for race discrimination is viable. In this particular case, the employer settled the lawsuit and entered into a consent decree.

The purpose of an employment discrimination case is to make the victim whole or put them back in the same position they were in, or should have been in, had discrimination not occurred. There are several types of damages a victim can receive, including economic damages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and liquidated damages. However, there may be limitations regarding which type of damages you may be entitled to and how much you could receive.

Settlement and consent decree

In some employment discrimination cases, the employer will agree to enter into a consent decree which prohibits further discrimination by the employer and sets the terms for correcting the illegal workplace conditions. OnSite Solutions agreed in this case to settle the race discrimination claims for $50,000. In addition to this monetary settlement for the four black employees who were demoted or terminated, the company entered into a three-year consent decree.

The decree enjoins the company from committing future acts of race discrimination against employees. The decree also requires the employer to take specific actions designed to prevent future discrimination, including posting and distributing an anti-discrimination notice to employees, training management and supervisory employees regarding discrimination, and revising its equal employment opportunity policies.

If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination or retaliation, or if you have any questions regarding your employment rights, please contact Michel | King , either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880.

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