A Brockton-based bakery will pay up to $95,000 in penalties and restitution and require anti-bias training for employees as part of a settlement over allegations an employee was repeatedly exposed to racial slurs, Attorney General Maura Healey’s office announced Thursday.
The settlement resolves a lawsuit brought by the AG’s office alleging White’s Bakery violated the state’s anti-discrimination law by creating a racially hostile work environment in which one of its former longtime supervisors repeatedly used racial epithets and slurs in front of subordinate employees, including the victim.
The alleged offenses occurred at White’s Brockton location. White’s also has a location in Mansfield.
The victim’s repeated exposure to racially charged language caused him to suffer severe emotional harm and eventually forced him to quit his job, according to the AG’s complaint.
“Workers should be able to do their job in an environment safe and free from harassment,” Healey said. “Employers need to ensure that they have the right training, policies and accountability to make sure things like this don’t happen in their workplaces.”
The AG’s complaint alleged in the four months the victim was employed at White’s Bakery in 2018, he was routinely subjected to hateful language by his supervisor, including the use of variations of the N-word. The victim is of mixed racial descent. The AG’s Office further alleged the bakery management knew this supervisor routinely used racial slurs in front of employees, but took no action to correct it.
The Massachusetts Anti-Discrimination Law prohibits harassment, retaliation, and other forms of discrimination in the workplace based on race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, genetic information, or ancestry.
Under the terms of the settlement, White’s Bakery will pay $65,000 to the victim and up to $30,000 to the state, half which will be suspended pending compliance with the agreement.
The bakery will also retain an external consultant to review its policies and training programs, and have all employees complete anti-bias, anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training annually for three years.
White’s Bakery released a statement Friday.
“For the past two years, White’s Bakery has vehemently fought false allegations that the bakery’s owners in any way tolerated workplace discrimination against a former employee. White’s Bakery is a responsible, progressive employer that has always opposed discrimination of any kind. We always embrace people for who they are. We do everything possible to operate on the basis of respect, understanding, and dignity.
"White’s Bakery denies any wrongdoing or liability in connection with claims brought by the AG’s office. In an effort to move forward without the continued burden, stress, distraction and substantial financial obligations that accompany litigation, White’s Bakery reached a settlement with the AG’s office.”
The White’s Bakery & Cafe in Mansfield is located across from Mansfield Crossing.