Government turns heat on employers over job bias

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In this photo taken Aug. 15, 2012, Harry Glasper who was one of the first plaintiffs in the discrimination case against Yellow Transportation poses for a photo in the living room of his home in Park Forrest, Ill. Instead of filing a lawsuit on behalf of one worker at a time, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is increasingly trying to super-size cases. Investigators look for patterns of discrimination against dozens or even hundreds of workers at a single company in areas such as hiring, pay, promotion or termination. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government's latest victory against job discrimination started with allegations of hangman's nooses, graffiti and racist comments targeting a handful of black workers at a trucking warehouse in Chicago Ridge, Ill.

Four years later, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had turned the case into a major class action lawsuit. It alleged that more than 170 employees of Yellow Transportation Inc. were victims of a racially hostile work environment.

The case was settled in June for $11 million.

Last year, some 40 employers paid out more than $60 million in settlements or court judgments in class-action cases put together by the EEOC.

Businesses and some courts are beginning to challenge the agency's tactics. They say the commission is overreaching in many cases in the name of ending discrimination in the workplace.