Supplier of Maintenance, Labor and Construction Services to Power Industry AGrees to Pay $190,000 in Race Discrimination Case

 
Thursday, March 14, 2013
 

Question:  Would race discrimination training have prevented this case?  See our trainings at http://www.hrclassroom.com.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Day & Zimmerman NPS, a leading supplier of maintenance, labor, and construction services to the power industry, filed a consent decree resolving EEOC's claims that Day & Zimmerman violated federal law by creating a hostile work environment for an African-American laborer.  In the lawsuit, EEOC alleged that Day & Zimmerman, through its foreman at the Poletti Power Plant in Astoria, Queens, N.Y., had subjected Carlos Hughes to physical and verbal racial harassment. 

According to the EEOC, Day & Zimmerman's foreman subjected Hughes to daily harassment for almost a year and a half.  The harassment included racial insults and derogatory stories referring to African Americans as stupid and incompetent, as well as frequently tripping Hughes, and once kicking him in the buttocks.  The foreman also told racist jokes in the workplace, and made negative comments about African Americans; including that Sean Bell (shot by the police at a nightclub) deserved to be shot, and threatened that candidate Barack Obama would be shot before the country allowed a black president.  

EEOC alleged that Hughes complained to management many times for more than a year regarding the harassment, and that when Day & Zimmerman finally arranged a meeting in response, it disciplined Hughes less than an hour later, and then fired him that same day, citing a false safety violation as a reason.  

This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, including racial harassment, and protects employees who complain about such offenses from retaliation.  

Day & Zimmerman is one of the largest providers of plant maintenance, modification and construction services to the fossil and nuclear power generating industries throughout the United States. Last year it boasted annual revenues of $2.1 billion and a global workforce of over 24,000 across 150 worldwide locations.  As part of the consent decree, Day & Zimmerman agreed to additional training of its managers at the Poletti Power Plant and to encourage use of its telephone hotline number by employees who believe they have been subjected to discrimination or harassment.

Eliminating policies and practices that discourage or prohibit individuals from exercising their rights under employment discrimination statutes, or that impede the EEOC's investigative or enforcement efforts, is one of six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

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