- The #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movements have exploded in recent years, shedding light on systemic racial and gender bias across American society, and in particular, within American workplaces.
- In 2020, workers spoke publicly in increasing numbers, often by taking their employers to court over pay disparities, harassment and abuse, and toxic company cultures.
- Major businesses including Google, Amazon, McDonald’s, Pinterest, and Johnson & Johnson faced new legal battles this year over allegations of racism and sexism.
- Here are the highest-profile racial and gender discrimination, harassment, and sexual abuse lawsuits that were filed in 2020 against US companies and executives or that added new plaintiffs.
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American workplaces have long been hotbeds of discrimination and harassment, particularly for those who aren’t white, light-skinned, male, straight, single, young, able-bodied Americans.
Since 2000, 99% of Fortune 500 companies have paid settlements in at least one discrimination or sexual harassment lawsuit, according to a report from Good Jobs First, and that’s not including the cases without a public record or incidents victims didn’t report.
Even though there are laws against pay discrimination, US companies on average still pay women just $0.82 for every dollar they pay men, and pay women of color even less — and executives have made virtually no progress in closing wage gaps across the country since the early 2000s. In 2019, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received more than 7,500 sexual harassment complaints, and 72,000 complaints about racial, sex, age, religious and other types of discrimination.
In recent years, however, empowered in part by the #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movements, American workers are increasingly turning to the courts to hold their employers accountable for breaking civil rights laws and demand companies fix racist, sexist, ageist, ableist, and other biased pay practices and work environments.
Since 2018, companies like Google, Uber, Fox News, Riot Games, UPS, Coca-Cola, and Target have paid out multimillion-dollar settlements, and this year brought an even larger wave of high-profile cases.
Here are some of the major workplace discrimination, harassment, and retaliation lawsuits that workers filed against America’s largest companies in 2020, as well as cases where new plaintiffs joined.
Have you faced discrimination or harassment in your workplace? Contact this reporter using a non-work device via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 503-319-3213, or by email at [email protected]. We can keep sources anonymous.