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Reliable Nissan settles 2011 racism complaint

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Reliable Nissan has reached a settlement with U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over charges that two managers repeatedly made racist comments, posted “racially offensive pictures” and made offensive jokes about Native American and Muslim religious practices, according to the federal agency.

A news release from the EEOC today states that Reliable Inc., doing business as Reliable Nissan, has agreed to a $205,000 total settlement to be paid to three employees who filed discrimination charges and 11 other minority employees subjected to a hostile environment.

Reliable declined to answer questions about the settlement Wednesday but issued a statement saying the allegations date back to 2011, and that the company investigated them and took appropriate action.

“The allegations related to this matter are from 2011 and at that time, the dealership conducted a thorough investigation and took decisive action where it was warranted. Reliable Nissan does not tolerate acts of discrimination or harassment of any form in our dealership. We are committed to creating an inclusive environment and have long-standing policies in place that prohibit harassment, discrimination and retaliation in our workplace.”

The EEOC  release states that the agreement is a settlement over claims that two Reliable Nissan managers repeatedly used the “n-word” during company meetings and repeatedly referred to other minority employees in derogatory terms. It further states that managers made “offensive jokes” about Native American and Muslim employees’ religious practices and posted “racially offensive pictures” around the workplace.

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An investigation by the federal agency also found there was  retaliation against employees who complained.

The alleged conduct is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination against employees based on race, national origin or religion and protects employees against retaliation from employers.

“It is important for all employees to feel safe and free to come forward with reports of harassment,” Derick Newton, EEOC Albuquerque director said in the release. “As soon as an employer becomes aware of any kind of harassment because of race, national origin, or religion, the employer must act promptly and appropriately.”

As part of the settlement, Reliable Nissan also agreed to provide annual training for two years for its employees, including managers and to review its policies to ensure that employees have a way to report complaints and that those complaints can be investigated appropriately.

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