“A noose around your neck”: Texas construction firm pays out $420,000 to end racism prosecution

Texas construction firm CCC Group Inc has paid $420,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after discriminatory actions and racist language was allegedly used at a worksite in Ravena in New York State in 2016.

The EEOC comments in a press release that white staff allegedly tried to “snare an employee with a noose”.

According to the commission, a white supervisor told a black staff member: “You don’t even have to dress up [for Halloween]. I will dress in white and put a noose around your neck and we’ll walk down the street together.”

White employees were also alleged to have bragged about their ancestors owning slaves and made racist comments across a radio channel for multiple employees to hear.

Racial harassment violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of race. The EEOC filed its suit in the US.District Court for the Northern District of New York after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement throughits conciliation process.

Some $225,000 was awarded to an employee whom the EEOC says was threatened with a noose and was a victim of vicious racist abuse; $195,000 will be split between six of CCC Group’s black employees whom the EEOC alleges were subjected to racial harassment.

Jeffrey Burstein, attorney for the EEOC’s New York district office, said: “The allegations of racial harassment in this case were especially vicious.

“We are pleased that CCC Group has agreed to take steps to make its workplaces safer and more respectful, including by conducting training and appointing a senior manager who will focus on ensuring that CCC Group complies with the decree and with federal law.”

Judy Keenan, EEOC’s New York director, said: “Employers must take immediate and effective steps to prevent and eradicate the kind of racial harassment that was alleged in this case.

“This decree ensures that CCC Group will compensate the skilled and experienced construction workers who were victimised by the harassment in Ravena, and also make significant internal changes to protect its current and future workforce.”

Image ©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier

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