African-American Employee Consistently Insulted and Degraded by Management, Fired for Complaining, Federal Agency Charges
NEW YORK – Day & Zimmerman NPS, a premier supplier of maintenance, labor, and construction services to the power industry, violated federal law by creating a hostile work environment for an African-American employee, including physical and verbal racial harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, a foreman at Day & Zimmerman’s Carlos Poletti Power Plant in Astoria, Queens, subjected Carlos Hughes, an African-American employee, to ongoing harassment, including physical harassment. The misconduct included often kicking Hughes in the buttocks and frequently tripping him at work, as well as making racially offensive comments such as “black folks deserve to get shot”, “black folks are good at basketball because they can steal and shoot” and “blacks are the worst people in the world.” The foreman also told racist jokes in the workplace. The EEOC’s lawsuit also alleges that Day & Zimmerman fired Hughes just two days after he complained about the harassment.
This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, including racial harassment, and protects employees who complain about such offenses from retaliation. The EEOC filed suit, EEOC v. Day & Zimmerman NPS, Inc., Civ. Action No. 11-civ. 04741, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, only after attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement.
“Race harassment has absolutely no place in any working environment. The EEOC’s lawsuit should send the message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated,” Charles F. Coleman, Jr. a trial attorney in the EEOC's New York District Office said.
Elizabeth Grossman, Regional Attorney of the EEOC New York District Office, said, “EEOC is particularly concerned when complaints of race harassment are met not with a solution but with retaliation. We will pursue retaliation claims against those who employers who respond to complaints with further discrimination.”
Day & Zimmerman is one of the largest providers of plant maintenance, modification and construction services to the fossil and nuclear power generating industries throughout the United States. Last year it boasted annual revenues of $2.1 billion and a global workforce of over 24,000 across 150 worldwide locations.
The EEOC is the federal government agency responsible for enforcing anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. Further information about the EEOC is available at www.eeoc.gov.