Texas contractor settles EEOC racial discrimination suit for $50K

Dive Brief:

  • A Texas-based construction services company has agreed to pay $50,000 to settle a racial discrimination suit alleging its managers referred to a Black employee with insulting, racially-charged epithets and called him the N-word. Managers also told a supervisor “not to hire more Black people because they are lazy,” according to the suit.
  • The Jacksonville, Florida, office of Lone Wolf Resources, which performs environmental remediation work, assigned the Black rock truck operator remedial tasks White workers weren’t asked to do, such as manually pumping water from ponds, the suit alleged. It also said Lone Wolf denied the worker an annual review, which would make him eligible for a raise, in the hope that he would quit instead.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed the suit, alleged that when the worker complained about not getting a review, he was fired. “It’s despicable that Black employees continue to be subjected to vile racial slurs in the workplace,” said Robert Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami district, in a press release about the settlement.

Dive Insight:

Lone Wolf Resources, based in Holly Lake Ranch, Texas, did not immediately respond to Construction Dive’s requests for comment. Lone Wolf’s lead attorney on the case, Jessica Theresa Travers of law firm Littler Mendelson PC, said she was not authorized to comment on her client’s behalf. In court documents, Lone Wolf denied the allegations in the complaint.  

The $50,000 settlement, which will be paid to the Black employee, illustrates the financial repercussions of discrimination in the construction industry. In May, the EEOC held a hearing to look at racism in construction in the light of the $1.2 trillion of federal funding that is beginning to be dispersed through last year’s infrastructure act.

Since 2020, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, numerous jobsite incidents including the display of nooses, racist graffiti and discrimination based on race have come to light. In response, major contractors including Turner Construction, Gilbane, Mortenson, Clark, DPR and McCarthy launched the inaugural Construction Inclusion Week last fall, with the hope that focusing on the issue will help snuff out the behavior, much as a focus on safety in the industry led to fewer accidents.

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