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PRESS RELEASE
1-3-12

Grand Central Partnership Fired Rastafarian for Complaining of Threatened Violence, EEOC Says

Despite Earlier Consent Decree Barring Religious Discrimination and Retaliation, Security Guard Fired After Complaining of Coworker’s Threat, Federal Agency Charges

NEW YORK – Grand Central  Partnership, Inc. (GCP), a not-for-profit developer of real estate, offices,  and facilities around the Grand Central Terminal area in New York, violated a  consent decree and committed new illegal acts when it fired a black Rastafarian  security officer in retaliation for his complaints about threats of violence  and racism, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in  a lawsuit filed Friday.

According to the suit, in 2009,  EEOC and GCP settled an earlier lawsuit about GCP’s treatment of Rastafarian  and Caribbean security officers with a consent  decree filed in federal court. In that  settlement, the parties had agreed that GCP would offer accommodations for the  religious practices of the Rastafarian security officers and not retaliate  against Rastafarian security officers for their participation in the  lawsuit. As part of that settlement, GCP  is still subject to supervision by the federal court in that action.

The new lawsuit claims that in 2010,  the hostility toward Rastafarians at GCP erupted again when a non-Caribbean  security officer threatened to shoot and kill a group of Rastafarian  officers. After a white security supervisor  made light of the physical threats made to the Rastafarian security officers,  one Rastafarian security officer objected to the supervisor’s conduct and his  past discrimination. Additionally, he  called the supervisor a racist for referring in the past to a group of  Rastafarians with the “N word” and threatening to stand in the way of their  getting paid for their work. After the  security officer complained to the supervisor and telephoned EEOC, GCP fired  him about three months later.

This alleged conduct violates Title  VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from retaliation  when they complain about employment discrimination based on race or  religion. It additionally is a breach of  the original consent decree filed in 2009. The EEOC filed suit, Civil Action  No.11 Civ. 9682 SDNY, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New  York, only after attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation  settlement.

Elizabeth Grossman, Regional  Attorney of EEOC’s New York District Office, said, “EEOC is particularly concerned  when it obtains a consent decree to stop violations of the law and the employer  turns around and ignores the settlement by reverting to the illegal behavior.
  We will pursue vigorously retaliation claims against  employers whose managers would rather not comply with court orders and fire  individuals who object to threats based on their religion and bias based on  race.”

“Retaliation against an employee  who objects to threats of violence against his co-religionists and then objects  to racism will not be tolerated. EEOC’s  lawsuit should make it clear that an employer may not blame the victim when it  loses control of its managers and employees,” Michael Ranis, a trial attorney  in EEOC's New York District Office, said.

EEOC is the federal government  agency responsible for enforcing anti-discrimination laws in the  workplace. Further information about the  EEOC is available at www.eeoc.gov.