The general contractor for the USC Village construction project will pay $725,000 and furnish other relief to settle a racial harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging the company ignored reports of racially offensive remarks and graffiti aimed at Black and Hispanic/Mexican workers at the work site, the federal agency announced Thursday.
San Francisco-based Hathaway Dinwiddie failed to take effective corrective action to remedy the racial harassment, according to the EEOC.
The two-year consent decree settling the suit, which remains under the court’s jurisdiction during the decree’s term, includes injunctive relief intended to prevent future workplace harassment and retaliation.
Hathaway has agreed to retain an external equal employment opportunity monitor to review its compliance with civil rights law and the decree, according to papers filed Wednesday in Los Angeles federal court.
A Hathaway Dinwiddie representative could not immediately be reached for comment.
Hathaway has also agreed to review and revise its harassment and retaliation policies and procedures, provide training to all employees on racial harassment and retaliation and establish a centralized tracking and monitoring system for racial harassment complaints and to prevent retaliation.
The company further agreed to hold subcontractors accountable by requiring them to verify having policies, procedures and training against harassment, discrimination and retaliation, and the EEOC will monitor compliance, the agency said.
“We commend Hathaway for taking steps to hold subcontractors accountable and to address this ongoing industry-wide problem,” said Anna Park, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Los Angeles district office.
“We continue to see racial harassment as an ongoing problem. We encourage all employers, including those in the construction field, to review their harassment policies and procedures to make sure they are in compliance with federal law.”
The racially offensive and derogatory graffiti was prevalent in portable toilet facilities frequented by construction managers, according to the lawsuit. Starting in 2015, workers for Hathaway or the project’s contractors or subcontractors complained about the issue to managers, but no action was taken, the EEOC stated.
“We recognize the strength of those who came forward and reported the harassment in their workplace,” said Rosa Viramontes, director of the EEOC’s Los Angeles district. “The EEOC will continue to strive to eradicate racial discrimination in employment.”
The case was resolved for $725,000 in monetary relief. Hathaway paid $150,000 and will pay the $575,000 balance before the end of September, the agency said.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC said it filed suit in July after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation agreement.
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