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Sealy will pay workers who were harassed with racist jokes and symbols

Sealy says it happened three years ago, and the company took swift action.

A Minnesota mattress maker has agreed to pay $175,000 to employees who were harassed with racist symbols and slurs at work.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found Sealy of Minnesota "subjected its black and Hispanic employees to severe racial harassment" that involved a noose, a Ku Klux Klan hood, and racist epithets and jokes, a news release says.

The incidents happened at Sealy's St. Paul facility "three years ago," Sealy told GoMN in a statement. The EEOC says despite employees complaining to senior management, the "offensive conduct" continued.

The EEOC determined Sealy violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the company discriminated against black and Hispanic employees during its selection process for lead positions at the St. Paul facility.

As part of Sealy's settlement with the EEOC, it will pay $175,000 to the victims of the harassment, the release says. The company will also provide anti-discrimination training, revise its anti-discrimination policy, provide a hotline where employees can report discrimination anonymously, implement a more objective application process for lead jobs, and require compliance with Equal Employment Opportunity laws.

Sealy responds

In a statement to GoMN, Sealy said it's "committed to a culture of diversity and respect" for everyone.

Sealy said when it learned of the allegations, the company "took swift action." Several employees in supervisor and manager positions were fired, the management team at the facility was replaced, and the company retrained its workforce at the facility, Sealy said.

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