Latino employees suing Target for racial harassment

Three former Target employees filed a lawsuit in California in June 2013 against Target claiming that they were victims of racial harassment and retaliation while they were working for the company.

Racially harassing memo

The three men who filed the lawsuit worked in the Target distribution warehouses. The men are Latino, and the lawsuit states that they suffered harassment due to their race. The suit cited a memo entitled "Organization Effectiveness, Employee and Labor Relations Multi-Cultural Tips" that Target distributed to its distribution warehouse managers as evidence of the hostile work environment in the company. The document was intended to help the managers, who were mostly Caucasian, interact more efficiently with their employees, who were mostly Latino.

The memo addressed a number of stereotypes about Latino cultures. The employees said that the memo was offensive, in that it contained statements such as:

  • "Food: not everyone eats tacos and burritos."
  • "Dress: not everyone wears a sombrero."
  • "Mexicans (lower education level, some may be undocumented)."
  • "Cubans (political refugees, legal status, higher education level)."

Racial harassment pervasive in the company

The plaintiffs' suit stated that the workplace was filled with numerous instances of racial harassment, in addition to the memo incident. The plaintiffs alleged that their supervisors frequently used racial slurs when speaking near Latino employees, and that one supervisor intentionally targeted one of the men by throwing boxes on the ground and making him pick up the boxes in order to humiliate him. The manager also used racial slurs when instructing Latino employees on their job duties.

After reporting the manager's conduct to human resources, the lawsuit states that the men suffered retaliation. The men were eventually fired, and they claim that is was due to racial animus.

Talk to a lawyer

Employers have an obligation to make sure that their workplaces are free from racial harassment. They must ensure that they make it clear that the company does not discriminate against any race in employment matters, and that it will not tolerate employees harassing one another because of race. When employers fail to set the proper tone to eliminate racial harassment, they must be held accountable when employees are victims of racial harassment. If you have been subjected to harassment or retaliation because of your race while at work, speak with an experienced California employment law attorney who can help you recover compensation for your suffering.