JESSUP, Md. – The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit alleging a Maryland demolition contractor discriminated against more than 150 Hispanic and African-American workers and allowed harassment of employees based on race and national origin.
The suit follows an investigation by the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs that found Potomac Abatement, Inc., forced at least 145 Hispanic employees into lower-paying jobs and subjected them to ongoing harassment because of their race or national origin, and discriminated against at least 17 African Americans by terminating them because of their race. The Hispanic and African-American workers were employed as skilled field technicians and unskilled laborers at construction sites in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area in 2011-2012. The complaint alleges that these violations have continued to the present.
The department also alleges that Potomac mistreated its Hispanic employees by denying them basic on-the-job necessities that were provided to other workers; allowed supervisors to illegally harass Hispanic employees, including sexual harassment of Hispanic female workers; and retaliated against Hispanic employees who complained about their treatment. It also alleges a number of other violations of Potomac’s obligations as a federal contractor, including failure to recruit minorities, women, protected veterans, and qualified individuals with disabilities, and failure to maintain required personnel and employment records.
“Our investigation found egregious behavior by Potomac Abatement and its supervisors toward its workers,” said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu. “Potomac Abatement’s treatment of its workers is appalling. As a federal subcontractor, this employer is supported with taxpayer funds and, as such, agrees to uphold the highest standards and fulfill its legal responsibilities.”
Filed with the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges, the suit asks that Potomac be ordered to restore back wages for the Hispanic and African-American workers, reinstate the laid-off African-American workers, and develop and implement a compliant equal employment opportunity policy.
Based in Jessup, Potomac Abatement specializes in demolition work, particularly asbestos abatement. The company has served as a subcontractor on several federal construction contracts and performed work for the Marine Corps, the Smithsonian Institution, Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Departments of Labor and Veterans Affairs.
OFCCP enforces Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. These laws, as amended, make it illegal for contractors and subcontractors doing business with the federal government to discriminate in employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran. In addition, contractors and subcontractors are prohibited from discriminating against applicants or employees because they have inquired about, discussed or disclosed their compensation or that of others, subject to certain limitations. For more information, please call OFCCP’s toll-free helpline at 800-397-6251 or visit http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/.
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OFCCP v. Potomac Abatement Inc.
Docket No. 2016-OFC-00008