Hip-Hop Fridays: EEOC Alleges Novellus Employee Was Fired For Complaining About Rap Lyrics

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission today filed a racial harassment lawsuit against San Jose-based Novellus Systems alleging that the company fired a black technician for complaining about offensive rap music lyrics.
According to the EEOC lawsuit, assembly technician Michael Cooke complained to his supervisors about having to listen to a co-worker playing and loudly singing along to songs that included racially offensive lyrics.

"That kind of language pains me. The N-word is not something I take lightly. It's disrespectful and demeaning and contributes to a high-strung racial environment. And to hear that language over and over, even after I asked that it stop, it is just not right. No one should have to put up with that," Cooke said in a statement.

Novellus did not take action for more than six months following Cooke's complaint and later fired him in retaliation for his complaint, according to the EEOC.

"The EEOC is not in the business of judging anyone's musical tastes, but we are concerned when we find that an employer failed to respond promptly after being put on notice of racially offensive language or conduct in the workplace," EEOC Regional Attorney William Tamayo said in a statement.

The EEOC filed the lawsuit after first trying to reach a settlement with Novellus. The suit seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for Cooke.

Novellus Systems designs, builds, and services manufacturing equipment that is used in the production of semiconductor devices, or chips, according to its Web site.

Copyright 2007 by Bay City News, Inc.

Friday, September 21, 2007