Laquila Group, Inc., a New York City-based construction firm whose past projects include the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, will pay $625,000 and take other measures to settle a race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on behalf of six black workers.
According to their lawsuit, these black workers were subjected to racial discrimination from their foreman for several years, in the form of racial slurs and offensive nicknames. Even though the firm’s managers witnessed this ongoing behavior and some workers complained, no action was taken to stop the harassment. One worker who complained was laid off soon after and not rehired for other projects.
Race discrimination and retaliation for complaining about such harassment, are both actions that violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “When an employer fails to address harassment, and instead responds by retaliating against someone courageous enough to complain, it compounds the violation.,” said EEOC trial attorney Charles F. Coleman, Jr.
In addition to the distributing the $625,000 payment among all six workers, Laquila is required to take steps to prevent subsequent race harassment and retaliation within the company, which include: establishing a complaint hotline for reporting incidents of discrimination, conducting anti-discrimination training for managers, posting a public notice about the settlement, and reporting all racial harassment and/or retaliation complaints to the EEOC.
Kevin Berry, director of the EEOC’s New York District, said, “No one in any workplace should have to endure what these workers went through. The EEOC is pleased Laquila has agreed to implement measures to ensure that this kind of ugly misconduct will not recur.”