New York University will pay $210,000 to settle a harassment lawsuit after an employee was subjected to racial slurs and insults, according to a statement from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
From July 2007 to January 2009, Plaintiff, Osei Agyemang, an African immigrant originally from Ghana, worked in the mailroom of New York University’s Bobst Library. The Plaintiff alleged that the supervisor of the mailroom at NYU’s Bobst Library, repeatedly referred to him as a “monkey” and “gorilla,” and lodged insults such as “do you want a banana?” and “go back to your cage.” According to the EEOC‘s investigation, Plaintiff’s complaints about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his supervisor went ignored by the university. NYU’s response was that “situations like this are few and far between and do not represent the reputation of the school.”
While it may not be surprising that discrimination occurs in all fields of employment. Gillian Thomas, a New York EEOC attorney stated: “[t]his suit shows that ugly harassment and retaliation can happen anywhere, even at a prestigious university.”
The EEOC stated “[u]nder this settlement, the victim will be compensated for the mistreatment he suffered, and NYU will be required to do much better by its employees in the future.” Because of NYU’s proven failure to provide a racism-free work environment, it must pay Mr. Agyemang $210,000 in lost wages and compensation for emotional distress as well as implement new policies to ensure such discrimination does not occur in the future. In order to try to achieve this goal, the propose anti-harassment policies, conducting equal employment opportunity training sessions for staff, and maintaining records of complaints and responses.
While these new policies will surely aim at eliminating discrimination, there is no sure-fire way to avoid discrimination. Implementing new policies will also require strict adherence to the policies and strict penalties to violators, yet no mention of the penalties is outlined by NYU.