7/31/2014

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Business

Klamath Falls company fined $200K for racial discrimination

Oregon officials have ruled that two employees of a Klamath Falls company were racially discriminated against.

The workers of Maltby Biocontrol Inc. are set to receive $200,000 for “abusive treatment, race discrimination and retaliation,” the Bureau of Labor and Industries announced Wednesday.

The agency found that Guatemalan and Hispanic employees faced unlawful discrimination and unfair treatment due to race because of the actions of a co-worker named James Bassett. The company “failed to control a hostile and racist employee and retaliated against a worker for filing criminal charges related to an afterhours attack,” said Brad Avakian, the state’s labor commissioner.

“No worker should have to fear violence, endure racial slurs or face retaliation for contacting law enforcement when attacked by a racist co-worker.”

The workers said James Bassett attacked a fellow employee, hitting him in the chest. That employee reported the incident to MBI supervisor Louis Bassett Sr., who is James Bassett’s father.

The younger Bassett also once fired a .45 caliber pistol and yelled out racially tinged profanities as several Guatemalan and Hispanic MBI employees worked near Bassett’s residence on the company property, according to the state.

Officials also said James Bassett, his brother Louis Bassett Jr. and an unidentified third assailant beat one employee with a wooden fish bat.

“After being contacted about the incident, MBI owner Howard Maltby was upset that the employee had contacted police because ‘he knew how to control Jimmy,’ a BOLI spokesman wrote in a release.

Company owner Howard Maltby and James Bassett were ordered to pay the victims $150,000 and additional $50,000 from Maltby Biocontrol, Inc. and Howard Maltby for retaliation.

The Portland Business Journal is a KATU.com news partner.

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