Yuba City company to pay $30K to settle racial slurs lawsuit
A Yuba City trucking company will pay $30,000 and hold anti-harassment training sessions for its staff in the resolution of a lawsuit brought by a federal agency after a driver said he was targeted with racial slurs — allegations the company denies.
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said that Lonnie Winstead, who is black, was subjected to the racial slurs by a dispatcher at Sutter Transfer Service on North Township Road.
Attorney Sirithon Thansombat, with the federal agency's office in San Francisco, said Winstead will be paid $20,000 after being subjected in 2008 to slurs including "coon," "gorilla" and "porch monkey."
Jamie Jenkins, a white co-worker who witnessed the racial harassment and complained along with Winstead to company supervisors, will be paid $10,000.
"These invectives have been used often in the trucking industry," Thansombat said. "It's a prevalent problem."
Winstead in a statement when the suit was filed last year had said, "Growing up in the South, I knew racism, but working in California, I didn't expect to be treated that way."
"I just wanted to do my job, but I had to listen to these racist comments almost every day from the person who gave us our work dispatch," he had stated. "As the only black driver at Sutter, I was mortified to hear these stereotypes. It hurt."
The first installment of $5,000 for Winstead and Jenkins was due Saturday.
"Sutter Transfer was ready to issue the checks," Thansombat said Friday.
The Yuba City company, which in the consent decree filed last week in federal court denied the allegations, did not respond to voicemails and a message left at its office.
Thansombat said that Sutter Transfer will hold anti-harassment training sessions of at least two hours of instruction for its staff as part of the resolution.
She said Winstead and Jenkins no longer work at the trucking company for reasons unrelated to the case.
"They all wanted to start fresh," the attorney said of the case's resolution.
The dispatcher said to have used the racial slurs no longer works at Sutter Transfer, Thansombat said.
Winstead said he heard slurs such as "wetback" and "ragheads" directed at other ethnic groups. That occurred multiple times a day over a few months, he had said.
Thansombat said that management had dismissed the racial slurs as part of the dispatcher's personality. Sutter Transfer had a duty to investigate the matter but failed to do so, the federal attorney said.
The website for Sutter Transfer said it is the trucking entity of Fiveway LLC, which provides farming and earthwork services.
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