Local 25 Discharged Black Apprentice Due to Race Despite Long-Standing Ruling on Prior Discriminatory Acts, Federal Agency Charged
NEW YORK - The apprenticeship school affiliated with a New Jersey construction trade union will pay $34,500 and provide substantial remedial relief to settle a discrimination claim by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC) of Sheet Metal Workers Local 25 discharged a black apprentice because of his race just two weeks before he was to graduate from the four-year apprenticeship program.
The EEOC's findings arose from its investigation of the apprentice's appeal of his dismissal, which he filed with the court-appointed special master who monitors Local 25 and its JATC pursuant to past judicial findings of race and national origin discrimination. According to the EEOC, the JATC violated the court's previous orders by summarily discharging the apprentice for alleged poor performance just days before he was to complete the program and be promoted to journeyman status. The JATC imposed this severe sanction despite the apprentice satisfactorily completing virtually the entire eight-term program and despite his complaints about inadequate on-the-job training from biased contractors.
Race discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as the court's prior orders on journeyperson referral and access to apprenticeship opportunities. The EEOC's settlement of the apprentice's appeal has been approved by U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (civil action no. 71 Civ. 2877). In addition to paying the apprentice $34,500, under the consent decree, the JATC will make significant improvements regarding how apprentices are evaluated and kept appraised of their educational progress. The decree also requires the JATC to appoint an ombudsperson to investigate complaints of bias brought by apprentices regarding classroom instruction, access to on-the-job opportunities, and any other aspect of the apprenticeship process. The EEOC continues to monitor Local 25 and the JATC's compliance with the court's orders on recruiting, recordkeeping and referral systems.
"The EEOC is pleased that Local 25 JATC worked with us to reach this settlement, which will benefit not only the individual who was harmed but all apprentices who come after him," said EEOC New York District Office Director Kevin Berry.
EEOC's New York Regional Attorney Robert D. Rose added, "The EEOC is committed to ensuring that all construction trade apprentices are able to complete their education free from discrimination, and go on to fulfilling careers. The EEOC will continue to enforce prior court orders to make sure that the covered unions, as well as those contractors who work with them, do not limit the opportunities of apprentices and workers of color."
Eliminating discriminatory barriers to recruitment and hiring is one of EEOC's six nationwide priorities identified in its FY 2013-16 Strategic Enforcement Plan.
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.