The U.S. 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 race harassment and retaliation lawsuit.
Tim Regan, president and CEO of Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., has denied the charges.
The agency said that from at least May 2018 through the fall of 2019, the company, which was the prime contractor for the construction of the Google data center in Clarksville, Tennessee, subjected Black employees who worked there to a racially hostile work environment and retaliated against two employees after they complained about race discrimination.
The agency said instances of discrimination included profanity referring to black employees, defacing job site porta potties and buildings with racially offensive graffiti and displaying a noose in the workplace on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.
The EEOC said that despite Black employees reporting these issues to Whiting-Turner several 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 U.S. 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 prohibition against racial graffiti, jokes, slurs and epithets, and hate symbols in its anti-harassment policy; assign an equal employment opportunity liaison to each of its construction sites; and conduct semi-annual training on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
EEOC chair Charlotte A. Burrows said in a statement the case’s allegations “are a prime example of the urgent need for the EEOC’s ongoing effort to eliminate racism in the construction industry.”
The company’s attorneys did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Regan said in his statement, “We are pleased to resolve this matter with the EEOC confirming no admission of liability or wrongdoing by Whiting-Turner. Whiting-Turner has denied liability or wrongdoing from the beginning of this case and we are proud of our efforts to combat discrimination and to promote diversity and inclusion within the company and on our job sites. While there was no credible evidence that any Whiting-Turner employees were involved in the actions alleged, a monetary settlement was reached in order to avoid the cost and expense of a protracted trial.”