December 3, 2012 | Back to: Columns

Trucking company to pay $30K to settle lawsuit

A Yuba City trucking company will pay $30,000 and host training sessions for its staff in the resolution of a lawsuit brought by a federal agency after a driver said he was targeted with racial slurs — allegations the company denies.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Lonnie Winstead, who is black, was subjected to the slurs by a dispatcher at Sutter Transfer Service on North Township Road.

Attorney Sirithon Thansombat with the federal agency’s office in San Francisco said Winstead will be paid $20,000 after being subjected in 2008 to slurs, including “coon,” “gorilla” and “porch monkey.”

Jamie Jenkins, a white co-worker who witnessed the racial harassment and complained along with Winstead to supervisors, will be paid $10,000.

“These invectives have been used often in the trucking industry,” Thansombat said. “It’s a prevalent problem.”

Winstead in a statement when the suit was filed last year had said, “Growing up in the South, I knew racism, but working in California, I didn’t expect to be treated that way.”

“I just wanted to do my job, but I had to listen to these racist comments almost every day from the person who gave us our work dispatch,” he had stated. “ As the only black driver at Sutter, I was mortified to hear these stereotypes. It hurt.”

The first installment of $5,000 for Winstead and Jenkins is due Saturday.

“Sutter Transfer was ready to issue the checks,” Thansombat said Friday.

The Yuba City company, which in the consent decree filed this month in federal court denied the allegations, did not respond to voicemails and a message left at its office.

Thansombat said Sutter Transfer will host anti-harassment training sessions of at least two hours of instruction for its staff as part of the resolution. She said Winstead and Jenkins no longer work at the Yuba City trucking company for reasons unrelated to the case.

“They all wanted to start fresh,” the attorney said of the case’s resolution.

The dispatcher said to have used the racial slurs no longer works at Sutter Transfer, Thansombat said.

Winstead said he heard slurs — such as “wetback” and “ragheads” — directed at other ethnic groups. That occurred multiple times a day over a few months, he had said.

Thansombat said that management had dismissed the racial slurs as part of the dispatcher’s personality. Sutter Transfer had a duty to investigate the matter but failed to do so, the attorney said.

The website for Sutter Transfer said it’s the trucking entity of Fiveway LLC, which provides farming and earthwork services.

Ryan McCarthy is a reporter for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat.

Ryan McCarthy
Special to The Union


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The Union Updated Dec 3, 2012 07:45AM Published Dec 5, 2012 07:35AM Copyright 2012 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.