Two South Carolina-based trucking companies are being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for subjecting African-American employees to a racially hostile work environment.

According to the EEOC complaint, the working conditions at T-N-T of York County and TM Trucking of the Carolinas, jointly referred to as TNT entities, forced many of the companies’ black employees to resign. The racial harassment allegedly occurred in 2013 and 2014 and involved frequent use of the “N-word” by the owner. The complaint also alleges that some employees heard the owner make derogatory comments about African-Americans including comments that they could not read or write.

Rodney Dunlap, who worked for the defendant companies from June 2013 through Jan. 2014, was one of the two employees who filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC based on the alleged harassment.  Dunlap claimed that he was forced to resign because he could no longer tolerate the owner’s racist comments. Warrant Cholsom, who worked for the companies from April 2013 to June 2014, was the other employee in the discrimination suit who also quit for the same reason.

"An owner's use of the 'N-word' and other racial slurs in the workplace is of tremendous concern to the Commission because there is no one more senior in the company to whom the offended employees can complain," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "EEOC takes a company owner's disregard for the federally protected rights of the company's employees very seriously and will prosecute cases where this occurs."

The EEOC suit also seeks damages for a class of current and former black employees who claimed to have been subjected to the owner’s misconduct. The suit seeks monetary relief including back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for Chisolm, Dunlap and the other employees in the case and also seeks injuctive relief against the companies to prevent future harassment.

The same companies were also involved in an EEOC suit in 2014 that entailed a female employee alleging sexual harassment from the same company owner in the racial discrimination suit. The EEOC settled the lawsuit with those companies without an admission of guilt or liability through a consent decree.