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Brooklyn Contractor Settles $600K EEOC Case

Friday, December 15, 2017

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Prominent New York City contractor Laquila Group was recently handed a $625,000 settlement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after multiple workers reported having to endure racial slurs and discrimination daily on job sites.

The New York Daily News reports that the EEOC filed the suit against Brooklyn-based group in September 2016 and reached the settlement Dec. 1. The EEOC charged that six African-American workers were routinely called racial slurs and harassed, with one foreman, Angelo Sicchio, named in particular.

© iStock.com / Marilyn Nieves

Prominent New York City contractor Laquila Group was recently handed a $625,000 settlement with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission after multiple workers reported having to endure racial slurs and discrimination daily on job sites.

Laborer Walter Franks claims he was fired in February 2014 for reporting Sicchio’s behavior, which continued after he had filed a report. Franks says the termination was retaliation for filing a complaint.

"The construction industry has remained one of the few bastions of blatant and open racism in the workplace," said Charles Coleman Jr., senior trial attorney at the EEOC. “The attempts to humiliate these courageous claimants are shameful and even after Laquila was on notice of its behavior, they allowed for this disrespect to continue.”

At a separate job site, ironworker Nathan Darby also made allegations against Sicchio in 2015, saying that the foreman was open about his racial bias.

In the suit, Darby says he confronted Sicchio at one point about a bathroom incident. “His reply was, ‘That’s the bathroom over there for you guys. You’re not entitled to use any other bathrooms.’ When I asked him who he was referring to, he said, ‘Who do you think I’m talking about? You’re not using the bathrooms used by my people.’”

The EEOC says it began its investigation after the Franks’ complaints and found that five other workers had experienced the racial bias.

Besides the monetary punishment, the firm is now required to hire an independent monitor, set up a hotline, conduct anti-bias training and report all future complaints to the EEOC. Neither Laquila nor Sicchio have commented on the case.

“This settlement should make it clear that there is a high price to pay for race discrimination in 2017,” Coleman said. “And while there isn't a price tag that can be placed on these things, hopefully it helps to restore some of the dignity to the claimants who were needlessly subjected to this in blatant violation of their federal rights."

   

Tagged categories: Equality; Ethics; Laws and litigation; Lawsuits

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