Cox's Communication Problems

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a discrimination suit against Cox Communications for discriminatory treatment of employees at its cable franchise in Georgetown. The suit, filed in Austin-based U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, alleges that Cox "engaged in discriminatory employment practices by subjecting Cesar Mejias and other similarly situated Hispanic employees to disparate treatment and to a hostile work environment because of their national origin and color," and that working conditions "were made so intolerable that they were forced to resign their positions." The EEOC also charges Cox with retaliating against the employees for complaining. Cox is one of the nation's major media companies, and the parent of the Austin American-Statesman.

Eduardo Juarez, the EEOC's lead attorney on the case, says an Anglo Cox employee subjected co-worker and named plaintiff Cesar Mejias to ethnic slurs. "Comments such as 'Stupid Puerto Rican,' 'dirty Puerto Rican,' 'Why don't you go back to Puerto Rico?' This was done frequently," Juarez said, and Mejias "complained to management, but the harassment never stopped. Nothing was done to stop it." The EEOC seeks injunctive relief to force Cox to train its management and employees on how to investigate complaints and stop harassment. As of press time, Cox management had not returned our call, but announced last week that it had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.

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