EEOC Sues over "N-Word" in Rap Lyrics

September 19, 2007 ( - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit against a San Jose-based semiconductor equipment manufacturer over the firing of a black technician who complained about offensive rap music lyrics.

The San Jose Mercury News reported that the EEOC suit alleged Novellus Systems discharged assembly technician Michael Cooke six months after he complained about having to listen to a co-worker playing and loudly singing along to music that featured lyrics Cooke found racially offensive.

The EEOC filed the lawsuit after first trying to reach a settlement with Novellus, according to the news report. The suit seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for Cooke.

“That kind of language pains me. The N-word is not something I take lightly. It’s disrespectful and demeaning and contributes to a high-strung racial environment. And to hear that language over and over, even after I asked that it stop, it is just not right. No one should have to put up with that,” Cooke said in a statement, according to the report.

“The EEOC is not in the business of judging anyone’s musical tastes, but we are concerned when we find that an employer failed to respond promptly after being put on notice of racially offensive language or conduct in the workplace,” EEOC Regional Attorney William Tamayo said in a statement, according to the newspaper.