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PRESS RELEASE
7-5-17

EEOC Sues Diversified Maintenance Systems for Race Discrimination and Retaliation

Tampa-Based Janitorial Service Provider Rejected African-Americans for Jobs and Punished Black Employee for Opposing Discrimination, Federal Agency Charges

BALTIMORE - Janitorial Service Provider Diversified Maintenance Systems, LLC violated federal law when it refused to hire a class of African-American candidates because of their race, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. Additionally, the EEOC said the Tampa-based company subjected a black employee to racial slurs, subjected him to other discriminatory practices and retaliated against him for opposing it. 

In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that since at least Jan.1, 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. 

Diversified's district managers for these areas allegedly instructed area managers not to hire African-American applicants unless special permission was granted. Area managers were also instructed to deter black applicants by repeatedly emphasizing to them that the company performed criminal background checks. African-Americans subsequently withdrew from the hiring process as a result, the EEOC said. 

During a hiring fair in Waldorf, Md., in 2014, a district manager knowingly and falsely told blacks who had just been hired that the company did not have any openings at the time, and then revoked their employment offers, the EEOC said. 

The EEOC also charged that district managers subjected African-American janitorial supervisor Dana Fields to severe and repeated acts of race harassment, including calling him the "N" word and other abusive language in the presence of customers and employees. Fields supervised janitors assigned to numerous big box retail stores throughout southern and central Maryland. Despite Fields's complaints to upper management and the human resources department, no remedial action was taken.

On the contrary, Fields was allegedly subjected to retaliatory treatment in being demoted; having his workload increased far in excess of his counterparts; and being denied the tools and staff necessary to perform his job duties. This resulted in his frequently working 18-hour days, having to clean the floor of a large retail store on his hands and knees in an attempt to meet the company's demands, and being subsequently fired while hospitalized due to the stress of these physical exertions imposed on him.

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. (Civil Action 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. The agency's lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, a requirement for Diversified to provide equal employment opportunities for African-Americans and cease their un­lawful employment practices; and monetary remedies to Dana Fields and a class of aggrieved African-American applicants, in­cluding compensatory and punitive damages.

"This case involves charges of egregious discrimination based on race, where an entire class of black candidates were denied hire because of the color of their skin," said EEOC District Director Spencer H. Lewis. "And under federal law, workers who stand up to employers and to oppose their discriminatory practices may not be punished for doing so."

Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "Race-based barriers to employment will not be tolerated and we will strongly advocate for the rights of those who suffer such mistreatment."

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.