EEOC Wins Largest Ever Individual Award in Race Case

March 22, 2006 ( - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) settled a racial harassment lawsuit against Commercial Coating Service Inc. for more than $1 million on behalf of a black employee subjected to 'severe' racial harassment.

In its press release, the EEOC said its lawsuitasserted that Commercial Coating did not stop its employees, including managers, from harassing Charles Hickman on the basis of his race and subjecting him to verbal and physical abuse. According to the EEOC the harassmentculminated in an incident where white co-workers placed a noose around his neck in the company bathroom and choked him in October 2002.

In addition to the monetary relief for Hickman, the company agreed to enter into a consent decree that will overhaul its employment practices to improve the corporate culture and further equal employment opportunities.

Rudy Sustaita, the lead attorney for the EEOC in the case, said in the release that the EEOC is please with the resolution, however, “Settling the case saves judicial resources and removes uncertainty for Mr. Hickman, but despite the large monetary settlement, we feel no amount of money satisfactorily compensates him for such appalling discrimination.”

According to a news story in the Houston Chronicle, Commercial Coating denies the allegations in the consent decree.