In a portion of town dominated by African-American and Latino residents, the general contractor for the USC Village construction project will pay $725,000 and furnish other relief to settle a racial harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). It is alleged the company ignored reports of racially offensive remarks and graffiti aimed at Black and Hispanic/Mexican workers at the worksite.
San Francisco-based Hathaway Dinwiddie failed to take effective corrective action to remedy the racial harassment, according to the EEOC.
The two-year consent decree settling the suit, which remains under the court’s jurisdiction during the decree’s term, includes injunctive relief intended to prevent future workplace harassment and retaliation.
Hathaway has agreed to retain an external equal employment opportunity monitor to review its compliance with civil rights law and the decree, according to papers filed Wednesday in Los Angeles federal court.
Hathaway has also agreed to review and revise its harassment and retaliation policies and procedures, provide training to all employees on racial harassment and retaliation and establish a centralized tracking and monitoring system for racial harassment complaints and to prevent retaliation.
The company further agreed to hold subcontractors accountable by requiring them to verify having policies, procedures, and training against harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, and the EEOC will monitor compliance, the agency said.
“We continue to see racial harassment as an ongoing problem,” said Anna Park, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Los Angeles office. “We encourage all employers, including those in the construction field, to review their harassment policies and procedures to make sure they are in compliance with federal law.’’
The controversy comes at a time of increased racial strife nationwide. The racially offensive and derogatory graffiti—in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act—was prevalent in portable toilet facilities frequented by construction managers, according to the lawsuit. Starting in 2015, workers for Hathaway or the project’s contractors or subcontractors complained about the issue to managers, but no action was taken, the EEOC stated.