The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Thursday that a Baltimore-based construction company will pay $1.2 million to a class of black former workers to settle a racial harassment and retaliation lawsuit.
The agency said that from at least May 2018 through the fall of 2019, Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., which was the prime contractor for the construction of Google’s data center in Clarksville, Tenn., subjected black employees who worked there to a racially hostile work environment and retaliated against two employees after they complained on racial discrimination.
The agency said instances of discrimination included profanity referring to black employees, defacing porta-potties and workplace buildings with racially offensive graffiti and displaying a noose in the workplace at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.̵7;s birthday.
The EEOC said that despite Black employees reporting these problems to Whiting-Turner multiple times, the company failed to investigate the complaints and instead fired two employees after they complained about the discrimination.
The agency sued the company in US District Court in Nashville, Tennessee.
In addition to the monetary relief, the court-approved two-year consent decree requires Whiting-Turner to incorporate a strict ban on racial graffiti, jokes, slurs and epithets and hate symbols into its anti-harassment policy; assign an equal employment opportunity contact person to each of its construction sites; and complete semiannual training on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows said in a statement that the case’s allegations “are an excellent example of the urgent need for the EEOC’s ongoing efforts to eliminate racism in the construction industry.”
The company’s lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.