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PRESS RELEASE
9-29-10

EEOC Sues Utah Construction Company for Race Discrimination

Holmes & Holmes Industrial / H3 Group Verbally Abused Class of Black Employees, Federal Agency Charges

PHOENIX -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced that it is suing a Utah construction company for workplace discrimination. EEOC charges that managers for Holmes & Holmes created and perpetuated a hostile work environment of racial harassment against African-American employees and then fired them in retaliation for complaining about the racial harassment. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of two African-American victims and a class of similarly aggrieved employees.

The EEOC’s lawsuit, CIV 2:10-cv-00955-BCW, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, alleges that African-American employees were routinely subjected to unwelcome racial harassment, including egregious racial comments and slurs by the company’s managers and employees, which created a hostile work environment because of race. The complaint further alleges that racial comments, racial “jokes”, and repeated use of the N-word were commonplace, and frequently made by managers and coworkers at one of the companies’ construction sites. The complaint also alleges that the two African-American employees who complained about the harassment were unlawfully terminated in retaliation for their complaints.

Race discrimination in the workplace, including racial harassment and retaliation, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC seeks monetary damages, including compensatory and punitive damages for the two men and a class of other individuals. In addition, the EEOC asks for injunctive relief that Holmes & Holmes institute and implement policies to eradicate and prevent future episodes of race discrimination.

Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office, whose jurisdiction includes Utah, stated, “It is illegal for employers to allow racial harassment in the workplace and it is also illegal for employers to fire employees when they report racial harassment to management. The EEOC will continue to vigorously defend the federally protected rights of discrimination victims that to exercise their rights to complain about illegal treatment to employers.”

“Holmes & Holmes appears to have allowed and tolerated race discrimination in the workplace,” said EEOC Acting District Director Rayford Irvin. “The incidents alleged in this complaint remind us that, unfortunately, overt racism remains a factor in some workplaces. Such bold racist actions must be addressed and eradicated from the work environment.”

EEOC Trial Attorney Richard Sexton added, “In this 21st-century work force, no one should have to endure this type of behavior in order to make a living.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.