EEOC Sues Whiting-Turner Contracting for Racial Harassment and Retaliation

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Construction Company Subjected Blacks to Hostile Work Conditions, Then Fired Them After They Complained, Federal Agency Charges

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company violated federal civil rights laws when it subjected Black laborers to a racially hostile work environment and then fired some of them after they complained about the harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, from at least May 2018 through the fall of 2019, while Whiting-Turner worked as a general contractor on the Google data center in Clarksville, Tennessee, Black laborers were referred to as “boy,” “m----f-----” and “you.” Further, numerous porta potties at the site were covered in racially offensive graffiti. Although Black employees reported these issues to Whiting-Turner on several occasions, Whiting-Turner failed to investigate the complaints and then terminated two employees after they complained of the discrimination.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race and protects workers from retaliation for complaining about it. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division (EEOC v. The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, Case No. 3:21-cv-00753) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks monetary relief for a class of Black employees. The suit also seeks injunctive relief to prevent future harassment and retaliation.

“Employers who allow widespread racial harassment and punish victims for exercising their right to oppose such behavior violate federal law,” said Edmond Sims, acting district director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over the states of Tennessee and Arkansas, and the northern part of Mississippi. “The EEOC will continue its mission to prevent and remedy un¬lawful employment discrimination and advance equal opportunity for all in the workplace.”

Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, Whiting-Turner, a construction management and general contracting company, provides a wide range of construction services to private and public customers, including the federal government. In 2020, Forbes ranked Whiting-Turner #37 in its America’s Largest Private Companies listing.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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