Cardinal Health, a global health care services and products company, and Los Angeles staffing agency AppleOne violated federal law by subjecting employees to racial harassment and retaliation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

According to the EEOC, black employees assigned by AppleOne to Cardinal Health’s Ontario facility, along with black employees directly hired by Cardinal Health, were subjected to ongoing and unwelcome harassment based on their race.

Requests for comment sent to representatives of Cardinal Health and AppleOne were not immediately answered.

The EEOC alleges the harassment was perpetrated by co-workers, supervisors and managers, and included daily use of racial epithets, degrading racial comments and racially derogatory graffiti. When employees complained, neither Cardinal Health nor AppleOne took immediate and corrective action regarding the harassment, which allowed the hostile work environment to fester, the EEOC alleges.

Additionally, employees who did complain were allegedly fired as retaliation, according to the complaint.

Racial discrimination and retaliation for complaining about it are prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in Los Angeles federal court after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process, EEOC officials said.

The EEOC’s suit seeks monetary damages for a class of employees, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent and correct discrimination.

“The EEOC continues to see too many complaints of harassment in the workplace,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office. “Under federal law, employers must promptly take action when harassment is reported.”

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