DHL Express Accused Of Segregating Workers; Must Pay $8.7 Million In Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

The Chicago Teamsters union has reached an $8.7 million settlement in a long-standing racial discrimination lawsuit against global shipping giant DHL Express. The resolution, announced on April 24, sheds light on racially discriminatory practices reminiscent of the Jim Crow era, revealing systemic racism within the company.

The federal lawsuit, initiated with the support of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in September 2010, alleged that DHL Express engaged in discriminatory practices against Black Teamsters in Chicago. These practices involved assigning Black workers to inferior job roles and routes compared to their white counterparts, a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Over a five-year period preceding the lawsuit, Black workers documented numerous incidents where they were given less desirable, more difficult, and dangerous assignments, while white employees received preferential treatment. Black drivers were often directed to routes in predominantly Black neighborhoods, perpetuating segregation in job assignments.

The case underscored the persistence of discriminatory practices from the Jim Crow era, highlighting how racism can persist in contemporary society within large corporations. 

Chicago District Director John Rowe’s investigation echoed the claims in EEOC v. DHL Express (USA), Inc.“While this may not have been obvious to employees at first, over time, a pattern of segregation emerged,” Rowe said. 

That wasn’t the only time DHL has been put on blast for their discriminatory practices.  EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago John Hendrickson shared the same sentiments. 

“Any employer who gives different work assignments to employees simply because of the color of their skin, sends a message to all of its employees that it is by no means colorblind. The concept of ‘separate but equal’ has long since been rejected. It has absolutely no place on the job. Everyone should understand that federal law — Title VII — expressly forbids the segregation of employees.  In this case, as with all of our other cases, the EEOC is looking to ensure that all employees can work in an environment free of discrimination,” Hendrickson said. 

As part of the settlement, DHL has entered into a consent decree with the federal government and agreed to the appointment of an EEOC monitor to oversee compliance with the settlement terms. This move aims to curb further discrimination within the company and ensure that the agreed-upon fine is paid.

The settlement marks a significant step towards addressing racial discrimination within DHL and underscores the importance of holding corporations accountable for their actions. The Teamsters union, representing over 6,000 DHL workers nationwide, played a crucial role in advocating for justice in this case.

In a statement, Juan Campos, who currently serves as the secretary-treasurer of Local 705 and Teamsters International vice president at large said, “The outcome of this lawsuit was more than a decade in the making, but our members stayed the course and fought for their rights.” Campos continues, “DHL’s racist behavior is completely unacceptable. I am proud of our rank-and-file Teamsters for fighting for what is right and holding this company accountable for its disgusting conduct.”

Founded in 1969, DHL has faced criticism for its history of disregarding labor laws and neglecting employee rights. In addition to the recent settlement, allegations of a hostile work environment have surfaced, with reports of supervisors running operations akin to prisons and racially motivated attacks on workers going unpunished.

The resolution of the lawsuit serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle against systemic racism and the importance of upholding civil rights in the workplace. It reinforces the need for continued vigilance in combating discrimination and fostering a more equitable and inclusive work environment for all employees. 

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