Whiting-Turner to pay $1.2m to settle racial harassment suit at Texas data centre project

©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier

This article contains language and references to actions that some readers may find distressing.

Baltimore-based Whiting-Turner Contracting Company has settled a lawsuit with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for $1.2m, which will be given to former employees who were allegedly subject to racial harassment, some of whom were fired after raising concerns.

The lawsuit alleged that from at least May 2018 to autumn 2019, black employees at the site of a $600m Google data centre in Clarksville, Tennessee, were subject to discriminatory language and referred to as boy”, “m—-f—–” and “you”.

In addition, the suit claimed that multiple buildings and portable toilets were defaced with racially offensive graffiti and a noose was placed in a workplace on Martin Luther King’s birthday.

It also alleged that two employees were fired after complaining multiple times to Whiting-Turner discrimination.

As well as paying a $1.2m fine, Whiting-Turner will adjust its anti-harassment policy to prohibit racial graffiti, racial jokes, racial slurs, racial epithets and hate symbols.

The company will also assign an equal employment opportunity liaison to each of its construction sites and conduct twice yearly training on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrim­ination based on race and also bans retaliation against employees who complain about discriminatory treatment.

Roslyn Griffin Pack, an EEOC trial attorney, said: “Construction companies must take immediate steps to combat race discrimination on worksites. That action includes making sure its managers and supervisors are trained on Title VII and take prompt action at the first sign of trouble.

“It is our hope that the injunctive and monetary relief obtained through this lawsuit will serve as a reminder to other construction companies.”

Charlotte Burrows, EEOC’s chair, said: “Unfortunately, the shocking findings of the EEOC’s investigation in this case are not an isolated occurrence in the industry.”

In a statement sent to GCR, Tim Regan, Whiting-Turner’s president, said: “We are pleased to resolve this matter with the EEOC confirming no admission of liability or wrongdoing by Whiting-Turner.

“Whiting-Turner has denied liability or wrongdoing from the beginning of this case and we are proud of our efforts to combat discrimination and to promote diversity and inclusion within the company and on our job sites.

“While there was no credible evidence that any Whiting-Turner employees were involved in the actions alleged, a monetary settlement was reached in order to avoid the cost and expense of a protracted trial.”

  • Updated on 11th May 2023 to include Tim Regan’s statement

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