Federal Agency Charges Salvadoran Was Victimized by Supervisor
NORFOLK, Va. – A plastering and drywall company doing work at Norfolk Naval Base and MacArthur Center mall violated federal law when it subjected an employee of Salvadoran origin to a hostile work environment based on both his sex and national origin, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
The EEOC’s suit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Tidewater Plastering and Drywall Company, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:10-cv-00369), filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, charged that Virginia Beach-based Tidewater Plastering and Drywall Company, Inc. created and maintained a hostile working environment for Jorge Calderon based on both his male gender and Salvadoran national origin. According to the complaint, from around September 2008 until February 2009, a male foreman for Tidewater Plastering subjected Calderon to unwelcome sexual conduct. The conduct included calling Calderon “sexy,” blowing him kisses and caressing his hands and back. The complaint also alleged that on one occasion the foreman also told Calderon that Calderon would have to sleep with the foreman in order to work at Tidewater Plastering’s next job site.
The same foreman also made derogatory comments to Calderon based on his national origin, including calling him a “stupid Salvadoran.” According to the complaint, when Calderon sought the help of his employer to end the harassment, the president of the company told him that nothing could be done. Consequently, Calderon quit his job.
The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Calderon, as well as an injunction enjoining Tidewater Plastering from engaging in similar discrimination again and requiring it to take other measures to ensure a workplace free of discrimination for future employees. The agency filed suit after first attempting to settle the matter informally.
“Offering employees avenues for reporting harassment and then responding appropriately to employee complaints are critical in maintaining a workplace free from unlawful harassment,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC’s Charlotte District Office which also has jurisdiction over Virginia. “This is true across all industries. Employees in the construction industry have just as much right as persons in any other occupation to a workplace free from unlawful harassment.”
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.