EEOC v. Iron City Constructors, Inc., and The Boldt Co.

No. 05 C 0386 S (W.D. Wis. Nov. 23, 2005 (Boldt) and Dec. 16, 2005 (Iron City))

The Milwaukee District Office filed this Title VII case against The Boldt Co. and Iron City Constructors (ICC) alleging racial harassment and race-based termination of African Americans and individual retaliatory discharge. Boldt (with headquarters in Appleton, Wisconsin) was the general contractor for the River Side Energy Plant project in Beloit, Wisconsin. ICC (with headquarters in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania) was the metal sheeting subcontractor on the project. Milwaukee alleged that Boldt interfered with the employment conditions of Iron City's African- American employees by permitting racial graffiti in the port-a-johns at the construction site. It also alleged that ICC: (1) subjected charging party and other African-American employees to a racially hostile work environment; (2) terminated charging party and another African-American employee based on race; and (3) terminated charging party in retaliation for complaining about racial harassment. Charging party, an apprentice iron worker and member of Iron Workers Local 498, worked on the River Side Energy Plant project as an employee of ICC. On his first day, charging party saw racist graffiti in the port-a-johns maintained by Boldt at the worksite. He complained about the graffiti to his direct supervisor and also to a Boldt supervisor, but neither defendant took corrective action. In addition, charging party's supervisor regularly used abusive and racially derogatory language toward him and otherwise treated him with hostility. His supervisor assigned him to perform the most dangerous jobs without assistance, while assigning white employees less dangerous work or pairing them for the more dangerous work. He repeatedly complained to his supervisor about the working conditions, including the appearance of a noose in his lunchbox. When he asked for ICC's corporate phone number so he could complain about racial issues, the supervisor threatened to fire him immediately if he complained. After 3 months, ICC laid off charging party (along with the only other black on ICC's payroll and one white), ostensibly due to lack of work. ICC tried to hire two whites the next day, but the union blocked the effort. Milwaukee entered into separate consent decrees with ICC and Boldt, resolving the case for $275,000 in monetary relief, consisting of $175,000 from Boldt and $100,000 from ICC. Charging party will receive $125,000, $45,000 outright from Boldt and $80,000 from ICC in three installments over a 6-month period. A second individual will receive $20,000 from ICC, also in three installments. Boldt will pay the remaining $130,000 in monetary relief into a fund for African-American employees of Boldt and its subcontractors who worked at the River Side Energy Plant project and who the EEOC determines were subjected to racial harassment, including exposure to racial graffiti. After notifying claimants of the proposed distribution and allowing them an opportunity to object, EEOC will prepare the final distribution schedule, subject to court approval. Iron City is enjoined from race discrimination and racial harassment, and prohibited from engaging in retaliation. Boldt is enjoined from racial harassment and retaliation. The ICC decree will expire in 3 years and the Boldt decree in 2 years. The decrees require defendants to develop, implement, and disseminate policies and procedures regarding racial harassment and retaliation (the ICC decree also includes race discrimination) and the investigation of internal complaints. Both defendants must designate two individuals with responsibility for investigating employee complaints and post their contact information at corporate headquarters and at each jobsite. ICC must also place such contact information in its employee handbook. Boldt must also set up and maintain a complaint hotline. Both defendants must provide annual training regarding race harassment and retaliation and ICC's training program must also cover race discrimination. For ICC, the training is mandatory for permanent employees and for temporary employees hired for offsite construction projects. For Boldt, the training is mandatory for all management, supervisory, and office employees; full-time hourly general foremen and superintendents; Boldt employees at offsite construction sites; and all employees of subcontractors where Boldt is the general contractor. The decrees require both defendants to post a notice at their corporate headquarters describing the lawsuit and resolution, and containing contact information for the EEOC. ICC must also post the notice at all of its offsite construction sites, and Boldt must post the notice at offsite construction projects where it employs more than 25 people.

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