Jacksonville-based Fanatics settles racial discrimination case

While there is no admission of liability, a Jacksonville-based sports merchandise retailer and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have reached an agreement to settle a pending case dealing with racial discrimination and retaliation.

WOKV first reported the federal complaint last July, which was brought on behalf someone employed by Fanatics Retail Group Fulfillment, LLC in 2012.

That employee laid out several claims about the company, including that black employees had to work more and their work was rejected, even if it was the same quality as the work done by white colleagues.

The complaint further outlined racially driven comments, like calling a black employee “baboon”, and claims the employee who complained was retaliated against by being passed over for a promotion he says he was promised.

A federal judge has now signed a Consent Decree between the EEOC, the employee, and Fanatics, outlining a series of new trainings and guidelines the company must put in place.

The requirements from the Consent Decree are applicable to two of Fanatics’ six Jacksonville locations- one on Commonwealth Avenue and one on Bulls Bay Highway.

In addition to redistributing its Equal Employment Opportunity policy at these warehouse locations, the company must create a new Human Resources policy which addresses new job openings- specifically that new openings must be posted conspicuously, announced, and open for at least ten days.

Several different levels of new trainings are outlined in this court agreement. All HR officials in the specified Jacksonville locations will get two hours of live training each year.

For managers and supervisors at the two locations or who deal with discrimination complaints from them, there is 1.5 hours of training annually, and for other employees at the two facilities, the training is one hour annually.

The trainings will continue over three years- which is as long as the Consent Decree is in effect- and cover many areas, including examples of a hostile work environment, explanation of protections against discrimination and rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and instruction of how to file complaints.

Fanatics is additionally required, under this agreement, to maintain a hotline for anonymous complaints about racial discrimination, and to report annually to the EEOC about any complaints of racial discrimination at the two Jacksonville location.

Fanatics says they already have many of these steps in effect, including the anonymous employee hotline.

For the employee who brought forward the complaint, Fanatics is paying $332,050, representing back pay of $57,050 and damages of $265,000. The employee and his family maintain medical coverage through Fanatics for about a year and a half, and, if needed, any future job reference will be neutral and will not mention the complaint.

The Consent Decree specifically says that there is no admission of liability, and Fanatics denies the allegations of wrongdoing.

“We are pleased to have resolved this matter with the EEOC with no finding of liability against Fanatics. We are committed to maintaining a diverse, inclusive and harassment-free environment for all Fanatics employees. The allegations from five years ago do not represent the values we stand for as a company,” says a statement to WOKV from a Fanatics spokesperson

The document lists several general provisions, including that the company cannot discriminate against anyone on the basis of race, cannot subject employees to a hostile work environment on the basis of race, can not retaliate against an employee because of certain factors, and related areas.

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