TULSA, Okla. (KFOR) — A Tulsa commercial printing, mailing and direct marketing company is facing a lawsuit from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after one of its supervisors allegedly harassed an employee with racial and national origin slurs after she shared her DNA ancestry results.
According to the suit, in or around August 2022, when a ResourceOne supervisor learned about an employee’s DNA results showing she had ancestry from Cameroon and the Congo, the supervisor began calling her names such as “ape” and “Congo.”
The supervisor also began mocking the employee, saying she was “swinging through trees” and was an “ape princess” looking for a “king,” according to the EEOC. On one occasion, the supervisor asked the employee if she wanted greens when coworkers were getting lunch.
“As more people choose to learn about their ancestry through DNA testing, they should not worry that this information will be used to create an unlawful hostile environment at work,” said Andrea G. Baran, regional attorney for the EEOC’s St. Louis District office. “Employers must protect their workers from this form of harassment.”
The employee repeatedly asked the supervisor to stop the harassment to no avail, and when the employee complained about the harassment to a higher-level manager, he participated in the harassment and did nothing to stop it, the EEOC said.
According to EEOC, the harassment was so intolerable the employee was forced to resign, but not even her resignation stopped the harassment – according to the suit, the supervisor obtained the employee’s phone number and sent her a text calling her “Congo” following her resignation.
David Davis, director of the EEOC’s St. Louis District office, said, “Offensive name-calling and slurs have no place on the job – or anywhere – regardless of whether they are based on people’s skin color, country of origin, or DNA test results.”
The EEOC filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma after first attempting to reach a settlement.
KFOR has reached out to ResourceOne, but has not heard back.