EEOC sues California contractor for national origin, sexual harassment

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has sued a California commercial framing and drywall contractor for national origin and sexual harassment, alleging supervisors addressed Latino workers with racial slurs and threatened to sexually assault them.

The EEOC’s suit against Orange County, California-based Goodsell/Wilkins, filed Sept. 27, claims supervisors referred to Latino laborers as “wetbacks” and “Home Depoteros,” a derisive term for workers who gather at Home Depot looking for work.

The suit also alleges managers mocked workers who could not speak English and told them to go back to where they came from, according to an EEOC press release. Harassment included anti-Latino graffiti in portable restrooms on site, including abusive terms and offensive imagery, the agency said.

Goodsell/Wilkins did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Construction Dive submitted via a contact form on the firm’s website. Attempts to reach the company’s owners via phone were unsuccessful.

Goodsell/Wilkins emphasizes its commitment to its workers on its website. In a section covering its core values, the company says, “Our people are our greatest asset, and our work reflects our people. We want them to be successful, feel respected and return home to their families safely every day.”

The EEOC’s suit also alleged that a company supervisor called Hispanic male workers whores, made derisive comments about sexual orientation, showed them explicit pictures and threatened to sexually assault them.

The agency charged that Goodsell/Wilkins failed to address the harassment after it was reported, and fired an employee for complaining, while discharging several others.

The commission said it filed the suit after attempting to reach a pre-litigation agreement with the company. It seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for the Latino employees, as well as injunctive relief to prevent future discrimination.

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