A $10 million, five-year consent decree will end a race harassment and discrimination lawsuit against Roadway Express Inc. and YRC.

Federal Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox has granted preliminary approval to the consent decree, which will end the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's suit. In addition to the multi-million-dollar monetary relief, the decree prohibits future discrimination at the facilities and requires the appointment of a monitor to oversee its implementation.

The EEOC alleged that the company subjected black employees at its Chicago Heights, Ill., and Elk Grove Village, Ill., facilities to a racially hostile working environment and racial discrimination. Black employees, the agency said, were subjected to multiple incidents of hangman's nooses, racist graffiti and racist comments, and racist cartoons.

Roadway Express operated the facilities until its merger with Yellow Transportation, when the two companies combined operations to form YRC Inc., in October 2008. It is now the nation's largest less-than-truckload company.

The EEOC also said that Roadway and YRC subjected black employees to harsher discipline and scrutiny than their white counterparts and gave more difficult and time-consuming work assignments to black employees than white employees. According to the EEOC, black employees had complained about a these conditions over the years, but effective corrective action was not taken.

In addition to the payment of the $10 million, the consent decree enjoins YRC from engaging in discrimination because of race and from retaliating against individuals who complain about racial discrimination; requires the development of revised anti-harassment policies; specific recordkeeping and reporting of complaints; and annual anti-harassment training. The decree also requires YRC to retain consultants to examine the company's discipline and work assignment procedures and recommend changes to prevent racial disparities. Finally, the decree requires the appointment of a monitor to oversee the company's response to complaints and to report on the company's compliance with the decree. The monitor will report semi-annually to the court and to the EEOC.