Six Former Employees to Share $1.3M Racial Harassment Award

March 25, 2008 ( - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a litigation settlement with Washington Group International, Inc. (WGI) for $1.5 million dollars on behalf of African American workers who were racially harassed and then retaliated against for complaining.

The EEOC charged in its lawsuit that WGI created a racially hostile work environment for black employees and failed to take appropriate action to remedy the discriminatory conduct at the Sithe Mystic Power Plant construction project in Everett, Massachusetts from approximately December 2001 through June 2003, according to the announcement. The EEOC claimed WGI subjected black employees to racial graffiti and other forms of harassment.

Under the consent decree approved in a U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, WGI will pay $1.3 million to be shared among six African American former employees, and $200,000 will be distributed among eleven similarly situated individuals identified during the litigation, the announcement said. The decree also provides injunctive relief which includes requiring WGI to conduct anti-discrimination training and implement an anti-graffiti policy; revise its equal employment opportunity policies and procedures; post a notice about the settlement for all Power Unit construction sites for the next two years; and be subject to monitoring by the EEOC for a period of two years.

R. Liliana Palacios-Baldwin, senior trial attorney in the EEOC’s Boston Area Office, said in the announcement: “Even though a construction site may be viewed by some as a ‘rough and tumble’ workplace, discrimination is unlawful regardless of the job site – it doesn’t matter whether employees work behind a computer or behind a forklift.”

The consent decree is here .