Racial Harassment, Discriminatory Job Assignments, and Failure to Promote African-American Employees Costly to Employer, Must Hire EEO Coordinator to Report to EEOC

On August 10, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced the settlement of a race discrimination claim against roofing contractor Elmer W. Davis, Inc. for $1 million.

Elmer W. Davis, Inc. (EWD) is one of the forty largest commercial roofing contractors in the country, and is the largest commercial roofing contractor in New York State. In 2007, the EEOC filed suit against EWD in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. The lawsuit charged that, dating back to at least 1993, black employees at EWD were subjected to a pattern of race discrimination and retaliation for complaining about discrimination. The EEOC’s allegations included harassment of black employees, including regular use of racially-charged slurs by white foremen and exposure of black employees to nooses and racially offensive graffiti; regular assignment of black employees to dirtier, more difficult, and less desirable jobs than white employees; repeated laying off of black employees earlier than white employees at the end of each roofing season; and systematic exclusion of black employees from opportunities to be promoted.

In addition to the $1 million monetary settlement, EWD’s agreement with the EEOC includes a five-year consent decree, which has been submitted to a U.S. District Court judge for approval. The decree enjoins EWD from engaging in further acts of race discrimination or retaliation, and also requires EWD to hire an EEO Coordinator to provide training and to monitor discrimination complaints. The EEO Coordinator will report to the EEOC on issues related to hiring, layoffs, and promotion at EWD. (Civil Action No. 07-CV-06434).