Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corporation, the largest manufacturer of metal food containers in North America, will pay $45,000 to settle a race discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced on July 2. The EEOC filed the lawsuit against Silgan on behalf of an African-American man who suffered alleged discriminatory treatment that resulted in his termination from Silgan’s Oconomowoc, Wis., facility.
In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that Silgan violated federal civil rights law by intentionally delaying the hiring of Romardro Henderson and then firing him because of his race. According to the EEOC, after Henderson was finally hired, his immediate supervisor – who no longer works for Silgan – subjected Henderson to disparate and discriminatory treatment such as holding him to a higher standard on his work than non-black employees. Finally, the EEOC charged, Silgan fired Henderson for racial reasons after less than one month on the job.
Race discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit, EEOC v. Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corporation, No. 09-C-782, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court through its conciliation process.
U.S. Magistrate Judge William E. Callahan entered the consent decree resolving the lawsuit on July 1, 2010. In addition to providing monetary compensation to Henderson, the two-year decree resolving the lawsuit requires Silgan to notify the EEOC of any complaints of discrimination at its Oconomowoc plant for the next two years. Silgan must report to the EEOC information about its hiring practices at the Oconomowoc facility for the duration of the decree. The company must also train its managers, supervisors and human resources employees in Oconomowoc about their responsibilities under Title VII.
“This case demonstrates that racial discrimination in the American workplace is a serious and ongoing concern,” said John Rowe, EEOC district director in Chicago. “Employment discrimination has a devastating effect on workers. Fortunately, we were able to alleviate that effect in this instance because Mr. Henderson took action on his own behalf by filing a charge with the EEOC.”
EEOC Regional Attorney John Hendrickson said, “Once the EEOC filed its lawsuit and the trial team began to litigate this case, Silgan was quick to determine that accepting a meaningful settlement resolution was its best option. The consent decree entered by the court will help to ensure that all Silgan’s employees enjoy equal access to employment opportunities.”
The government’s litigation effort was led by EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Gregory M. Gochanour and Trial Attorney Bradley S. Fiorito.
According to its Web site, Silgan is the largest manufacturer of metal food containers in North America, with net sales of $1.92 billion in 2009 and over 30 manufacturing facilities nationwide. Silgan is owned by Silgan Containers Corporation, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Silgan Holdings Inc. of Stamford, Conn.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.