The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced a settlement with Asbestos Specialists, Inc. (ASI), a Baltimore-based company that specializes in asbestos removal and demolition in the Washington, D.C. area. ASI has agreed to pay $100,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to resolve a charge of national origin harassment filed with the EEOC and a Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) compliance evaluation.
In response to a claim filed with the EEOC, the agency found that ASI subjected a class of Hispanic workers to a hostile work environment based on national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The OFCCP made similar findings of national origin discrimination under Executive Order 11246, Both authorities prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin.
As part of the joint conciliation, ASI is establishing a claimant fund in the amount of $100,000 to compensate individuals who were harassed based on national origin. In addition, the company will: (i) hire an EEO Coordinator who is fluent in English and Spanish; (ii) develop and distribute a revised anti-discrimination policy and "know your rights" cards; (iii) provide EEO training to all managers, supervisors and employees. The anti-discrimination policies, "know your rights" cards and EEO training are to be made available in both English and Spanish. ASI will also establish a toll-free hot-line for reporting unlawful discrimination or harassment at ASI's work sites. The company must also keep records and report to EEOC and OFCCP regarding its compliance with this voluntary settlement. ASI waived its right to confidentiality regarding the joint conciliation.
In addition to commending ASI for working with EEOC and OFCCP to settle this matter voluntarily and for making comprehensive policy changes, OFCCP Mid-Atlantic Regional Director Michele Hodge made clear the OFCCP’s position: "It's important that companies funded by taxpayer dollars educate their employees on anti-discrimination policies and maintain a harassment free workplace.” In order to avoid claims – and settlements – like that faced by ASI, contractors should work proactively to properly train their employees and address discrimination in the workplace
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