Tampa-Based Janitorial Service Provider Rejected African-Americans for Jobs and Punished Black Employee for Opposing Discrimination, Federal Agency Charged
BALTIMORE - Janitorial Service Provider Diversified Maintenance Systems, LLC will pay $750,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a federal race discrimination, harassment and retaliation lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that since at least January, 2012, Diversified engaged in an ongoing pattern or practice of race discrimination against African-American job applicants in Maryland and the Washington D.C. and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. The company refused to hire blacks for custodian, lead custodian or porter positions, the EEOC said.
The EEOC also charged that district managers racially harassed an African-American janitorial supervisor by calling him racial slurs and using other abusive language in the presence of customers and employees. Although he complained to upper management and the human resources department, Diversified did not stop the harassment. Instead, the company retaliated against him by demoting him, altering his hours, work assignments and work conditions, and ultimately firing him, EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Diversified Maintenance Systems, LLC. Case No. 8:17-cv-01835) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Southern Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its administrative conciliation process.
In addition to the $750,000 in monetary relief to the African-American supervisor and other claimants, the 30-month consent decree provides equitable relief. Diversified is enjoined from discriminating against or harassing anyone based on race or engaging in retaliation and the company will designate an internal monitor to ensure compliance with the consent decree. Diversified will implement a targeted hiring plan, including tracking the number and race of applicants, and reason(s) why they are not hired. It will also create a policy to prohibit harassment and retaliation and provide training on preventing discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Finally, Diversified will post a notice regarding the settlement and report to the EEOC on how it investigates and handles any future complaints of race discrimination in hiring.
No worker should be denied employment because of his or her race," said EEOC District Director Jamie R. Williamson. "Moreover, employers must properly address complaints of workplace harassment and prevent retaliation against those who exercise their rights to complain about such mistreatment."
Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "The EEOC stands ready to protect workers from race-based barriers in recruitment and hiring. This settlement should encourage all employers to review carefully their hiring practices and procedures to ensure that race is not a factor. We are pleased that in addition to monetary compensation to the claimants, Diversified agreed to robust protections against racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation."
Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, women, and people with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan.
The lawsuit was commenced by EEOC's Baltimore Field Office, one of four component offices of EEOC's Philadelphia District Office. The Philadelphia District Office is responsible for cases originating in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.