For immediate release
January 13, 2005
A new report details how African-Americans, Hispanics, and Women at Cincinnati-based Cintas Corporation have been denied Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream
Today, the Teamsters and UNITE HERE released a report, “The ‘Spirit’ is the Problem,” detailing systemic race and gender discrimination at Cintas Corporation, the nation’s largest uniform provider. While Cintas claims they maintain a “zero-tolerance policy on discrimination,” the report cites numerous employee testimonies and employment statistics indicating that women, African-American, and Hispanic employees endure racist and sexist comments, are shunted into lower-paying jobs, and are blocked by glass ceilings.
Reports from employees at Cintas facilities suggest a company that is operating in an era of racial and gender inequality when employers could lob crude epithets with impunity and could exclude women and minority employees from all but the lowest-paying jobs.
Employees at Cintas’ North Irvington , New Jersey facility report the general manager called women “sluts,” and used the “N-word” in reference to African-Americans.
- In San Leandro , California , a Hispanic man applied for a Cintas route driver position. He alleges Cintas hired him into a lower-paying position and explained that he had to undergo a probationary period in this position before he could become a route driver. Days after he was hired, a white man without previous driving experience was hired as a route driver, but was not required to complete a probationary period.
- A former Chicago-based Cintas Manager of National Account Services says she was instructed not to interview or hire women for sales positions.
“I had hoped that this kind of racism was over, but since it’s alive and well at Cintas we have to take our claims to court,” said Coretta Vick Silvers.
Ms. Silvers is one of several employees who in January 2004 brought a federal lawsuit against the company alleging widespread discrimination against women, African-American and Hispanic employees. Ms. Silvers, who is African-American, reports she earned fifty-cents to one-dollar less per hour than her white counterpart for performing the same work while she was employed at Cintas’ Raleigh, North Carolina facility.
“These employee statements indicate a disturbing culture where racism and sexism are all too common. Public agencies and companies that do not endorse race and gender discrimination should think twice before contracting with Cintas,” said Wilfredo Larancuent, UNITE HERE International Vice-President.
“Even 35 years after the death of Martin Luther King’s death, workers at Cintas continue to face an appalling system of racism and sexism. We are committed to assisting other Cintas employees who may have endured this type of degradation,” said Cheryl Johnson, Director, Teamster Human Rights Commission.
The unions have established a toll-free number, 1-800-872-8646, for Cintas workers who believe they have been discriminated against.