Cardinal Health, a Dublin, Ohio-based manufacturer and distributor of medical and laboratory products, will pay $1.45 million to resolve a racial harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In addition, Cardinal Health and Glendale, California-based staffing agency AppleOne will take steps to prevent discrimination.

Both directly employed Cardinal Health workers and employees of AppleOne were subjected to ongoing and unwelcome harassment based on their race, according to the EEOC. It also alleged that neither Cardinal Health nor AppleOne took immediate and corrective action when employees complained.

No matter the source of a complaint, it needs to be investigated, says Jean K. Hyams, a partner at Levy Vinick Burrell Hyams LLP who litigates such cases. When one of the parties involved is a contingent worker assigned by a staffing firm, both companies should coordinate and cooperate with one another, each participating fully in the investigation and ensuring its completeness. In an article for Staffing Industry Review magazine, she addressed how an investigation should be handled, from breadth to fairness to recognizing bias. “Whether an investigation leads to a determination of culpability on your company’s part or a finding in your favor, you need to ensure the investigator has done their due diligence because a poor investigation will be picked apart by good plaintiff’s counsel,” she wrote.

Cardinal Health agreed to pay $1.45 million to resolve the lawsuit. In addition, both it and AppleOne agreed to two separate two-year consent decrees that call for the companies to retain an equal employment opportunity monitor; conduct audits; review and revise policies prohibiting discrimination and the distribution of those policies to direct and temporary employees; and establish an internal complaint procedure.

Both Cardinal Health and Apple One agreed to maintain a toll-free complaint hotline and provide discrimination training for all employees.

“The EEOC has seen an increase in race harassment allegations across industries and localities,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office. “It is very important for employers and staffing agencies to be proactive in addressing these issues. Cardinal Health and AppleOne are commended for establishing changes within their workplaces that will have a positive impact on their employees and the communities they reside in.”

The suit had been filed in the Central District of California.