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PRESS RELEASE
6-13-18

EEOC Sues Master Marine for Same-Sex Harassment & Race Discrimination

Shipyard Supervisor Subjected Asian-American Welder to Sexual and Racial Harassment and Used Racial Slurs Against Several Black Workers, Federal Agency Charges

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Master Marine, Inc., a Gulf Coast shipbuilder, violated federal anti-discrimination laws when one of its lead welders sexually and racially harassed a male Asian-American welder at its Bayou La Batre, Ala., headquarters, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. In addition, Master Marine subjected three African-American employees to racial harassment, the EEOC said.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, between January and June 2016, a white male Master Marine supervisor repeatedly referred to the welder in racially derogatory terms, including making insensitive remarks regarding the victim's Asian heritage. In addition, the supervisor repeatedly made unwanted sexual comments and inappropriately touched the welder. The EEOC also charged that the harasser discriminated against three black employees by subjecting them to racial harassment. The alleged harasser, who also supervised these employees, referred to them as "n----r," "monkey" and "boy." Although complaints were made to Master Marine's management concerning the harassment, no action was ever taken to prevent or correct it.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Master Marine, Inc., Case No. 1:18-cv-00269) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama after the EEOC's Mobile Local Office completed an investigation and first attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages, including compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief.

"The EEOC is committed to stopping harassment whether it's based on race, sex, national origin, disability or some other protected characteristic, said EEOC Birmingham District Director Bradley Anderson. "We encourage all victims of all national origins and both genders to come forward when they believe they are experiencing discrimination."

Marsha Rucker, regional attorney for the EEOC's Birmingham District, added, "No employee should have to be subjected to this kind of outrageous harassment of a racial or sexual nature. We will continue to use our litigation resources forcefully to pursue and remedy such misconduct."

According to company information, Master Marine is a shipbuilding and repair company that manages various marine-related projects for the oil and gas sector, inland transportation, passenger vessels, and commercial fishing industries.

On Monday, the EEOC reconvened its Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace for a meeting at agency headquarters in Washington, D.C. Established in 2015, the task force concluded its work in June 2016 with the final report of its co-chairs, EEOC Commissioner Chai R. Feldblum and Commissioner and now-Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. The report includes recommend­ations and resources regarding leadership, accountability, policies and procedures, training, and devel­oping a sense of collective responsibility. Monday's meeting delved into workplace harassment in light of the #MeToo movement, and discussed how employers can and have worked to better prevent and stop harassment.

Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is also one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employ­ment discrimination. The Birmingham District consists of Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern counties) and the Florida Panhandle. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.