Brockton Bakery Penalized in Discrimination Lawsuit Settlement
(Updated 9:20 a.m. Oct. 15 — This article has been updated to include a statement from White's Bakery.)
BROCKTON — A bakery in Brockton is set to pay up to $95,000 in penalties and restitution in a settlement over allegations that an employee was repeatedly harassed and subjected to racial slurs in the workplace, claims which the bakery denies.
White's Bakery will also be required to give anti-bias training to staff and revise its anti-discrimination policies in the settlement reached with Attorney General Maura Healey's office.
The A.G.'s office filed a lawsuit in Plymouth Superior Court alleging that the Pearl Street bakery violated Massachusetts' anti-discrimination law by creating a racially hostile work environment.
According to the complaint, one of the bakery's longtime supervisors repeatedly used racial epithets and slurs — including the N-word — in front of subordinates, including one employee of four months who is of mixed racial descent.
The complaint alleged that repeated exposure to the hateful language caused the victim to suffer severe emotional harm, eventually forcing him to quit his job.
The AG’s Office also alleged that management at the bakery knew this supervisor routinely used racial slurs in front of employees, but did nothing about it.
However, White's Bakery denies these claims.
“For the past two years, White’s Bakery has vehemently fought false allegations that the bakery’s owners in any way tolerated workplace discrimination against a former employee," the establishment wrote, adding that the bakery settled the claim to relieve the burden of litigation and does not admit any wrongdoing.
"White’s Bakery is a responsible, progressive employer that has always opposed discrimination of any kind. We always embrace people for who they are. We do everything possible to operate on the basis of respect, understanding, and dignity."
“Workers should be able to do their job in an environment safe and free from harassment,” Healey said. “Employers need to ensure that they have the right training, policies and accountability to make sure things like this don’t happen in their workplaces.”
“Discrimination anywhere should not be tolerated,” said Brockton NAACP President Phyllis Ellis. “White’s Bakery and its management have been held accountable for creating an unacceptable and racially hostile work environment. I was hopeful that this lawsuit would bring change in policy at White's Bakery, and I think it has.”
Massachusetts law prohibits harassment, retaliation, and other forms of discrimination in the workplace based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, genetic information, or ancestry.
Under the settlement terms, White’s Bakery will pay $65,000 to the victim and up to $30,000 to the state, $15,000 of which will be suspended on condition that other terms are met.
The bakery will also hire an external consultant to review its policies and procedures, training programs, and its culture and climate more broadly.
All White’s Bakery employees must complete anti-bias, anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training each year for three years.
Bakery management will also take a yearly enhanced unconscious bias training for three years.
The former supervisor, who is no longer employed at the bakery, will also be required to take anti-bias training.
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