California Electrical Contractor to Pay $1.25M to Settle Racial Harassment Suit

August 24, 2020

A San Jose, Calif.-based electrical subcontractor at the Apple Park construction project, will pay will pay $1,250,000 and provide other relief to settle a racial harassment lawsuit.

Air Systems Inc. (ASI) will pay the $1,250,000 to eight African American former employees, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which filed suit against the company.

According to the EEOC’s suit, the racial harassment included racist graffiti of swastikas and racial epithets drawn on the walls of the portable toilets at the Apple Park construction project, as well as a noose at the worksite hung next to a scrawled note containing other expletives, and a threat of lynching.

In addition, the company failed to act when notified by two African American employees that a white coworker had taunted them with racial pejoratives.

The EEOC filed suit (U.S. EEOC v. Air Systems, Inc., Case No. 5:19-cv-07554) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The company provided the following statement:

“Air Systems treats employees with fairness, equality and respect, and we have a zero tolerance policy for discrimination and harassment. Upon learning of these troubling allegations, the Company initiated a comprehensive investigation and took swift corrective actions, and we cooperated fully with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission throughout its review. We are satisfied to have reached a resolution with the EEOC and will use this experience as an opportunity to reaffirm our values, enhance our anti-discriminatory policies and practices, and ensure every employee feels welcome at Air Systems.”

According to the consent decree which is effective until Dec. 31, 2022, ASI will provide $1,250,000 in compensatory damages to the former employees and hire an EEO consultant to help implement the decree’s terms.

ASI will review company policies and train all employees, including superintendents and general foremen, on preventing and reporting racial harassment.

ASI will also work with the consultant to develop policies and procedures to facilitate discussions with potential subcontractors, general contractors and unions about how to best monitor, prevent and remedy harassment and racist graffiti at worksites and develop proposals to incorporate such terms into contracts.

According to its website, ASI is a building contractor that employs approximately 500 employees in California and is part of the EMCOR Group Inc.

Source: EEOC

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