$125,000 To Settle Race Harassment Lawsuit; Training Required

 
Monday, September 25, 2017
 
A Hugo, Minn., construction company will pay $125,000 to settle a racial harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced. The EEOC's lawsuit charged that JL Schwieters Construction, Inc. violated federal law when it subjected two black employees to a hostile work environment, including physical threats, based on their race.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Willie Staple and Dion Pye worked for JL Schwieters Construction, Inc. from September 2012 to December 2013 as carpenters. Staple and Pye were both subjected to racial harassment during their employment by a white supervisor, which included racially derogatory comments including calling them "n----r." The supervisor also made a noose out of electrical wire and threatened to hang Staple and Pye, the EEOC charged.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from discrimination and harassment based on race. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. JL Schwieters Construction, Inc.; Civil Action No. 16-cv-03823 WMW/FLN) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright signed the Order entering the Consent Decree on September 6, 2017. The decree provides $125,000 in monetary relief to Staple and Pye. It also requires Schwieters to revise its policies in its employee handbook to outline a complaint procedure for complaining of racial harassment. The decree also requires the company to train its management personnel on Title VII including its prohibitions against race discrimination and racial harassment.

Further, the decree requires Schwieters to train its non-management employees on their rights under Title VII, including their right to file discrimination charges with the EEOC. Finally, the company must report complaints of race discrimination and racial harassment to the EEOC during the decree's two-year term.
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