BALTIMORE - Maritime Autowash (later known as Phase 2 Investments, Inc.) will pay $300,000 in monetary relief and furnish equitable relief to settle a federal race and national origin discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to the EEOC's August 2017 lawsuit, Maritime violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by segregating a class of Hispanic workers into lower-paying jobs as laborers or detailers at its former Edgewater, Md., facility. Maritime failed to offer them promotion or advancement opportunities to key employee or cashier positions, despite their tenure and outstanding job performance, and paid many class members only the minimum wage despite years of service, while paying non-Hispanic workers higher wages and promoting them.
The EEOC also charged that Maritime discriminated against the Hispanic class members in their terms and conditions of employment, such as forcing them to perform other duties without additional compensation and denying them proper safety equipment or clothing. The EEOC said Maritime required Hispanic workers to perform personal tasks for the owner and managers, such as routinely assigning the female Hispanic class members to clean the houses of the owner or manager and assigning the male Hispanics to perform duties at their homes, such as landscaping, cleaning the pool, picking up dog excrement, painting or helping with moves.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed its suit (EEOC v. Phase 2 Investments, Inc., et. al, Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-02463) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
According to the three-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit, Maritime no longer has any operating facilities or employees. In addition to the payment of $300,000 in compensatory damages to the original complainants and class members, the decree enjoins Maritime from retaliating in the future against any individual for asserting his or her rights under Title VII or otherwise engaging in protected activity. Should Maritime reopen and reactivate, it shall be enjoined from creating or maintaining a hostile work environment and inferior economic terms and conditions of employment on the basis of national origin or race.
"Unfortunately, we continue to see employers who are all too eager to employ vulnerable workers and exploit them for their willingness to work long hours for low pay," said Jamie R. Williamson, district director of the EEOC's Philadelphia District Office.
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said, "The federal anti-discrimination laws do not contain exceptions for vulnerable workers. The EEOC will take vigorous action to ensure that all workers are free from harassment and receive equal pay for equal work."
EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Maria Salacuse added, "After enduring more than five years of EEOC investigation and litigation, these discrimination victims can finally close this chapter in their lives and move on knowing that they have made a difference for other vulnerable workers."
Eliminating discriminatory practices affecting vulnerable workers who may be unaware of their rights under equal employment laws or reluctant or unable to exercise them, is one of six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP). These practices can include disparate pay, job segregation, harassment and human trafficking. Enforcing equal pay laws, including addressing discriminatory compensation systems and practices, is another SEP priority.
The EEOC's Baltimore Field Office is one of four offices in the EEOC's Philadelphia District Office, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
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.