The suit concerns 12 African-American dockworkers at a Kansas City, Missouri, facility. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges that co-workers subjected the employees to displays of hanging nooses in the workplace, as well as assaults, threats of physical harm, racially offensive graffiti and other harassment.
The EEOC says that Consolidated knew about the harassment but did nothing to stop it, and that it disciplined an employee who complained about it. The company denies the allegations.
Whether the employees and their attorneys will actually see the full monetary amount remains to be seen. Consolidated filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2002.
Lynn Bruner, director of the EEOC's St. Louis district office, says, "By continuing to pursue this case even after the company filed for bankruptcy, EEOC hopes to alert employers everywhere that it considers this issue to be extremely serious and will act accordingly."