Fishmongers Used N-Word and Hooks on Employees: EEOC

Minority employees faced comments like "I didn't hire you to think" and "I didn't know you could read"

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    File photo: Workers at Fulton Fish Market back in 2005. They weren't involved in the suit at all, but they are still scary.

    Managers at a wholesale fish dealer in Brooklyn abused and humiliated their employees -- verbally and physically -- by repeatedly hurling racist and homosexual comments at them, and even groping them with fishhooks, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

    White, male managers at M. Slavin and Sons in Brooklyn and Hunts Point repeatedly used the "n-word" with black employees, made sexual advances on some male employees by rubbing workers buttocks, the EEOC complaints said.

    Workers also alleged they had their buttocks "hooked" by managers playing with fish hooks while their bosses sang an explicative laced version of "Camptown Races."

    An attorney for the fish wholesaler, Greg Riolo, said "The company vehemently denies the allegations and looks forward to the truth coming out. The company will vigorously defend the lawsuit in court."

    Barry Slavin and Jack Slavin are among those named in the EEOC complaint.

    "The stunning facts of this case remind us of an ugly time in our nations history," said Sunu Chandy with the EEOC. "The actions of these white owners, who subjected particularly men of color to horrendous physical and sexual harassment and racial comments, must be challenged."

    The graphic allegations contained in the complaint include verbal descriptions of gay sex acts as well as attempts at physical touching.

    Racial epithets often were thrown in during verbal requests by managers asking employees to perform a work-related task like "get it n... "  or "African bastard."

    The EEOC said minority employees faced comments like "I didn't hire you to think" and "I didn't know you could read."

    When one worker complained, investigators said M. Slavin and Sons retaliated against that worker by having managers closely supervise him compared to other workers. Another employee quit over the alleged abuse and took a lower paying job.

    Spencer Lewis Jr, director of the EEOC in New York, said the lawsuit against the fish wholesaler seeks fair compensation for the employees who suffered harassment.  He also said the EEOC wants M. Slavin & Sons to implement policies that "will help prevent discrimination" in the future.

    Barry Slavin and Jack Slavin are among those named in the EEOC complaint. 

     Jonathan Dienst WNBC