U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Nationwide Staffing Company Subjected Jewish Employees to Verbal and Physical Harassment, EEOC Charged
BALTIMORE – Administaff, Inc., a nationwide company which provides full-service human resources to small and medium-size businesses will pay $115,000 and furnish substantial remedial relief to settle a harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to EEOC’s suit (Case No. 1:09-cv-02881-BEL) filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, Kingwood, Texas-based Administaff and Conn-X, LLC, a Florida-based cable service provider, violated federal law by engaging in religious discrimination against employees at Conn-X’s Edgewood, Md., office.
The EEOC said that Scott Jacobson and Joey Jacobson, who are brothers, were called “dirty Jew,” “dumb Jew,” and other anti-Semitic slurs by managers and coworkers because of their religion, Judaism. The harassment began in September 2005 and continued for a couple of years and included the defacing of Scott Jacobson’s work vehicle with a swastika symbol, the EEOC said. He was also physically harassed when he was forced into a trash bin for the amusement of managers who observed them on a work surveillance camera and called it “throw the Jew in the dumpster.” The EEOC’s lawsuit against Conn-X, LLC remains unresolved.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits religious harassment. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
“What happened to these workers was cruel and callous, involving physical mistreatment, as well as hateful religious slurs and anti-Semitic symbols” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act embodies the promise that no one should have to endure this kind of abuse in the workplace. We are gratified we fought and brought an end to the religious discrimination that was happening here, and that we could secure a measure of justice for these victims.”
In addition to the monetary relief to the Jacobsons, the consent decree settling the suit enjoins Administaff, Inc. from engaging in harassment on the basis of religion and from retaliating against employees who complain about it. The employer agreed to revise its policy against harassment and retaliation, provide training to its managers on anti-discrimination laws, and to post notices stating its commitment to maintaining an environment free of religious harassment and retaliation.
“Employers play a critical role in creating a work environment respectful of employee’s religious beliefs,” said EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Maryland and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. “It is never acceptable to come to work and have your religion and heritage made the subject of such callous and impermissible treatment.”
Religious discrimination charge filings nationwide with the EEOC have increased substantially over the years. In Fiscal Year 2009, the EEOC received a record high level of 3,386 religious discrimination charges – nearly double the number of religious discrimination charges since FY 1992.
According to its web site (www.administaff.com), “Administaff, Inc. is the nation's leading professional employer organization (PEO), serving as a full-service human resources department for small and medium-sized businesses throughout the United States. Administaff delivers its personnel management services by entering into a co-employment relationship with a client company and the client company’s existing employees, including the business owner. Under this arrangement, Administaff assumes or shares many of the responsibilities of being an employer.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available at its web site (www.eeoc.gov).