Daily Labor Report® is the objective resource the nation’s foremost labor and employment professionals read and rely on, providing reliable, analytical coverage of top labor and employment...
Feb. 2 — Daimler Trucks North America will pay $2.4 million to settle complaints filed with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries that black employees have been subjected for decades to a hostile work environment including threats of violence by assailants holding nooses, racial epithets and a swastika etched into a bathroom wall.
The settlement with the Portland, Ore., company—a business unit of Daimler AG with headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany—is the largest in the history of BOLI's Civil Rights Division, state Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian told Bloomberg BNA in a telephone interview Jan. 30.
The company still faces unresolved complaints from at least five additional workers who filed complaints with BOLI but later withdrew them with the intention of pursuing the matter in court, according to a BOLI statement. The six employees named in the BOLI settlement will get varying payouts ranging up $1 million. About 800 people work at the Portland truck factory.
“Daimler has had this problem going on in its workplace for some time,” Avakian said. His complaint filed Sept. 25, 2014, said Daimler “was aware of unlawful discrimination against its minority employees and failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action. Minority employees report decades of discriminatory treatment that Respondent failed to correct.”
In an Oct. 9, 2013, incident in which a white worker confronted a black employee in the parking lot with a noose and said he would drag the employee behind a car, Daimler “failed to take appropriate disciplinary action against the coworker prior to his retirement,” Avakian wrote in his complaint.
Portland attorney Mark Morrell—who obtained a $1 million award for the worker threatened in the parking lot—told Bloomberg BNA in a telephone interview Feb. 2 about a janitor at the Portland truck manufacturing plant who found a swastika on the wall of a toilet stall. Morrell said “it was a long time” before Daimler painted over the swastika and the etched image remained clearly visible. Meanwhile, the janitor was forced to clean up feces smeared around the stall, the attorney said.
“The complaints are multigenerational,” Morrell. He said endemic racism at the plant existed even before Daimler bought the plant. Daimler-Benz AG purchased Freightliner from Consolidated Freightways in 1981, according to Daimler Trucks North America spokesman David Giroux.
The truck company in Portland said in Feb. 2 e-mail: “A settlement is not an admission of liability. Daimler Trucks North America trains its managers to take appropriate proportional disciplinary action when employees of the company violate our anti-discrimination policies. If managers fail to take appropriate disciplinary action, they are subject to discipline.”
Daimler Trucks still faces unresolved complaints from at least five additional workers who filed complaints with BOLI but later withdrew them with the intention of pursuing the matter in court, according to a BOLI statement.
After the commissioner filed his complaint, Avakian said, “Daimler came to the table and said they wanted to do whatever was necessary in order to make it right.” Among the remedies Avakian proposed that were included in a conciliation agreement with Daimler are mandatory supervisor training, logbook records of future incidents and installation of a civil-rights complaint hotline.
“We've suggested the use of hotlines to employers before,” Avakian said. “This is the first time I've included one in an order or binding agreement. One of the reasons I included it in the agreement is that the Bureau of Labor is going to have access to both that and supervisor logs on any incident that occurs. So we're going to be able to monitor first hand what's happening.”
Morrell said he represents four people who intend to pursue claims against Daimler outside the BOLI process.
To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Shukovsky in Seattle at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at email@example.com
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)