A specialty meat supplier in southern Louisiana will pay a former employee $67,500 to settle allegations of pervasive racial discrimination at its two facilities outside Lafayette, federal officials said.
Don’s Specialty Meats, a purveyor of Cajun favorites like Boudin and Cracklin, is accused of allowing its general manager to routinely use derogatory language and racial slurs against a Black worker — one of two out of 79 employees, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in federal court filings.
The EEOC is the federal agency tasked with enforcing anti-discrimination laws in the workplace and filed the lawsuit on the former employee’s behalf.
“Harassment based on race and the use of racial slurs is intolerable, and an employer must act to assure that harassment of this kind is prevented and, if it happens, is vigorously addressed,” EEOC trial attorney Peter Theis said in a news release announcing the settlement.
Lawyers and a representative from Don’s Specialty Meats did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on Thursday, Jan. 20.
Under the terms of the agreement, Don’s Specialty Meats has agreed to pay the employee $50,000 in damages and $17,500 in back pay, according to court documents. The company is also barred from discussing the litigation if asked for a job reference regarding the former worker and must wipe it from his personnel file.
Employees will additionally undergo training on anti-discrimination laws, and the company will revise its written anti-discrimination policies and provide compliance reports to the EEOC.
The federal agency first reached out to Don’s Specialty Meats in August after the former employee filed a charge of discrimination and the EEOC determined there was reasonable cause to believe the company had discriminated against him.
But attempts to resolve the dispute outside of court failed, the EEOC said, and a federal complaint was filed in the Western District of Louisiana on Sept. 24.
According to the lawsuit, Don’s Specialty Meats hired the now-former employee in 2018. He worked first at its facility in Scott, Louisiana, and later at its original location in nearby Carencro. Don’s was started in 1993 and opened a second location in 2005, according to its Facebook page. The meat supplier is famous for its Boudin, a mixture of rice, ground pork and seasonings stuffed into sausage casing.
The employee, whom the EEOC described as African American, was one of just two Black workers employed by Don’s Specialty Meats at each facility during his tenure.
The general manager repeatedly referred to him as “Black boy,” “the Black boy” or “little Black guy,” the EEOC said, and he was listed on the work schedule as “Black boy” while his non-Black colleagues were identified by name.
Racial slurs were also common at Don’s Specialty Meats, according to the lawsuit. The general manager was accused of routinely using the n-word and referring to another Black employee’s baby as such. When Don’s was looking for new hires, the employee was told applicants “just can’t be Black,” the EEOC said, and if trash needed to be picked up on the roadside, it was always “the Black boy” who was assigned to do it.
Things came to a head in early July 2020, when a supervisor repeatedly called the employee a racial slur and other insulting names in front of his coworkers, the complaint states.
The employee complained to management and was subsequently dismissed for the day, the EEOC said. When he returned to work, he was reportedly told the supervisor would not be punished. According to the lawsuit, the general manager then told the employee he loved him and referred to him by the same derogatory name the supervisor had used.
He quit the following day, the EEOC said, and the only discipline his supervisor ever faced was being told she couldn’t wear her Don’s Specialty Meats T-shirt for a day.