The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Taylor Shellfish, alleging that the Shelton-based seafood company discriminated against a former employee because of his race.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, on behalf of Jeremy Daniels, a former employee at the company’s Samish Bay farm in Skagit County.
While working for Taylor Shellfish, a supervisor allegedly called Daniels the N-word on multiple occasions, and assigned him to less desirable jobs when he complained, according to the EEOC. Daniels resigned from the company in February 2014 because of the working conditions.
“My supervisor ‘welcomed’ me to the job with the information that I was the first black person to work at Taylor for a long time, and that his father used to run ‘my kind’ out of town,” Daniels said. “When I went to work for Taylor, I was constantly robbed of my dignity for simply being black.”
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Taylor Shellfish released a statement Thursday denying that the company was involved in illegal discrimination or retaliation.
“Taylor Shellfish Farms is an equal opportunity employer and proud to have a diverse workforce. Fairness in the workplace is very important to us, and as such, we take discrimination allegations very seriously,” the statement reads.
“EEOC complaints are a process and we’ve been engaged in this matter in good faith. While we are disappointed by the filing of the suit, we will continue in good faith to address this complaint through the courts and remain committed to providing our employees with a workplace free of discrimination.”
In the complaint filed in court, the EEOC alleges that Taylor Shellfish’s actions violate the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991.
In addition to using the N-word, a Taylor Shellfish supervisor also called Daniels a “spook” and “boy,” according to the complaint. When Daniels complained to a manager, the company allegedly failed to stop the behavior.
A short time later, Daniels was assigned to more difficult, less desirable work, and the supervisor continued to use the N-word when talking about Daniels to other employees, according to the complaint. Eventually the conditions were so intolerable that Daniels resigned.
In the complaint, the EEOC asks that Taylor Shellfish be ordered to institute practices that provide equal employment opportunities, and that Daniels be awarded back pay and damages, in an amount to be determined at trial.