Construction Company Fired Black Employee Because He Complained About Racial Harassment, Federal Agency Charged
BECKLEY, W.V. – A South Point, Ohio-based construction company will pay $87,205 in lost wages and punitive damages and furnish significant remedial relief to settle a federal race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today. The EEOC had charged that Mike Enyart & Sons, Inc. discharged Mareo R. Allen in retaliation for his complaints about a racially hostile work environment.
The EEOC contended that a foreman and co-workers repeatedly used racially offensive epithets and slurs to Allen and other black persons when Allen worked for the company on a sewer line installation project in White Sulphur Springs, W.V. The harassment included physically threatening and intimidating actions, such as cutting Allen’s belt with a knife while Allen was wearing it and showing him a swastika that had been spray-painted onto company equipment, the EEOC said in its lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, Civil Action No. 5:09-CV-00921. The EEOC also alleged that Allen was terminated in retaliation for his opposition to the racial harassment.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits harassment based on race. Title VII also prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who opposes racial harassment or discrimination. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court through its conciliation process.
In addition to the $87,205 in monetary relief to Allen, the five-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit enjoins Mike Enyart & Sons from engaging in discrimination or harassment based on race or retaliation in violation of the Title VII. The company will offer to hire Allen as a laborer for the first available position after the consent decree takes effect. The consent decree mandates that Mike Enyart & Sons will implement and disseminate policies prohibiting discrimination, harassment and retaliation and set up procedures for receiving and investigating discrimination complaints. The company must provide training on Title VII to all supervisors and managers and an additional eight hours of training on investigating and taking corrective action regarding discrimination complaints to all employees with those job responsibilities. The company is required to report to the EEOC about the company’s response to any complaints of alleged harassment or discrimination and post a remedial notice.
“We commend Mike Enyart & Sons for working cooperatively with the EEOC to reach a speedy and satisfactory resolution to this lawsuit,” said Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. “The consent decree includes significant equitable relief that will benefit all company employees.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.