Cox Faces EEOC Suit

A supervisor in Cox Communications Inc.'s Georgetown, Texas, system harassed Hispanic workers and the MSO did nothing to correct his actions, according to claims in a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The EEOC's San Antonio office filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin on May 29, on behalf of a Hispanic foreman and four other employees, alleging that Cox violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the EEOC, the workers were subjected to "repeated slurs, threats and derogatory insults based on their national origin."

Cox spokeswoman Laura Oberhelmen said the company has not yet seen the suit and therefore could not comment.

The workers complained to the system's general manager, but Cox did nothing to stop the harassment, the EEOC contends. They were subjected to retaliation if they complained or cooperated with an investigation into the hostile working conditions, the agency added.

The EEOC said it filed suit only after meetings with representatives of the MSO failed to reach settlement.

The lawsuit seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for the employees, as well as injunctive relief from Cox. Such relief could include the posting of company rules against workplace harassment or retraining sessions on Civil Rights Act requirements.

The suit came just two weeks after the EEOC's Miami, Fla., said it reached a settlement with Adelphia Communications Corp. over hostile workplace claims in one of its Dade County, Fla., systems.

A supervisor there intimidated African-American workers by displaying a noose in his office, the EEOC said.