$112,573 Settlement in Back Wages by Federal Contractor to Workers Terminated for Reporting Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Federal contractor L&M Construction has agreed to settle allegations that it permitted sexual harassment, retaliated against workers who complained about a hostile work environment, and interfered with a federal investigation. The conciliation agreement entered into by L&M and the department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs resolves these and numerous other violations of law at the company's construction work sites across the Washington metropolitan area.

In May 2012, OFCCP's Arlington Area Office scheduled L&M Construction for a compliance review. During a workers' outreach forum that month, department officials were alerted to complaints of sexual harassment that included inappropriate touching, lewd acts, sexual gestures, comments and propositions directed at female employees of L&M between May 1, 2011 and April 30, 2012. Upon further investigation, OFCCP compliance officers discovered that the company terminated nine employees for complaining about the hostile work environment created by this harassment and then fired five more workers to prevent them from being interviewed during OFCCP's review. The 14 terminated workers were seven Hispanic men and seven Hispanic women.

Under the terms of the conciliation agreement, L&M Construction will pay $112,573 in back wages to the 14 terminated workers and will make job offers as opportunities become available. The company has agreed to hire an outside party to evaluate and, if necessary, develop its equal employment opportunity and anti-harassment policies. The contractor has also agreed to undertake extensive self-monitoring measures and training to ensure that all of its employment practices fully comply with Executive Order 11246, which prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Based in Capitol Heights, Md., L&M Construction provides environmental remediation and restoration services, including asbestos abatement and removal. The company has held more than $1.4 million in federal contracts with federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institutes of Standards and Technology, the Social Security Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the General Services Administration.

In addition to Executive Order 11246, OFCCP enforces Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. These three laws require those who do business with the federal government, both contractors and subcontractors, to follow the fair and reasonable standard that they not discriminate in employment on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran.

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