April 21, 2017 12:37 PM
After agreeing to pay $175,000 and recalibrate its anti-discrimination polices following a United States Equal Opportunity Commission investigation that found the company had failed to respond properly to accusations of racial harassment, St. Paul-based Sealy of Minnesota says the company has responded to the issues in question.
"The company is committed to a culture of diversity and respect for all people," Sealy spokesman Rick Maynard said in a statement.
"When we learned of the alleged violations of our policies by employees at our St. Paul facility which took place three years ago, we took swift action. The company terminated several employees who were in supervisory and management roles during the time of the alleged unacceptable behavior, replaced the management team at the facility and retrained our workforce at the facility.
"We continue to be committed to making every effort to provide a positive work environment for our employees."
The investigation found the company subjected its black and Hispanic employees to severe racial harassment, the EEOC said in a release.
The EEOC said the claims were spurred by an employee who made racist jokes, used racial epithets and invoked symbols like a noose and a Ku Klux Klan hood. Julie Schmid, the acting area director for the Minneapolis EEOC, said the harassment was directed at 27 employees.
Sealy also discriminated against black and Hispanic employees in hiring lead positions at its St. Paul plant, according to the release.
The EEOC investigation found reasonable cause the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Under the terms of the settlement, Sealy has also agreed to provide anti-discrimination training to all employees and further training on harassment and retaliation to supervisors, managers and owners. The company will also revise its anti-harassment policies and establish an anonymous hotline for employees to report discrimination.
"The reason we make this public is because we want other employers to look at their own policies to ensure that it doesn't happen at their companies," Schmid said.
Mike Oakes and Frank Rajkowski
Updated: April 21, 2017 12:37 PM
Created: April 21, 2017 12:31 PM
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