DOL: Hispanic, African American Employees Were Victims of Discrimination by Md. Contractor

A Maryland company that does demolition and abatement work will have to answer U.S. Department of Labor allegations that it discriminated against Hispanic and African American employees.

In a lawsuit filed with the Office of Administrative Law Judges, the DOL is alleging that Potomac Abatement violated the civil rights of more than 150 Hispanic and African-American workers and allowed harassment of employees based on race and national origin.

The suit follows an investigation by the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs that found Potomac Abatement, Inc., forced at least 145 Hispanic employees into lower-paying jobs and subjected them to ongoing harassment because of their race or national origin, and discriminated against at least 17 African Americans by terminating them because of their race. The Hispanic and African-American workers were employed as skilled field technicians and unskilled laborers at construction sites in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area in 2011-2012. The complaint alleges that these violations have continued to the present.

The company mistreated its Hispanic employees by denying them basic on-the-job necessities that were provided to other workers; allowed supervisors to illegally harass Hispanic employees, including sexual harassment of Hispanic female workers; and retaliated against Hispanic employees who complained about their treatment. It also alleges a number of other violations of Potomac’s obligations as a federal contractor, including failure to recruit minorities, women, protected veterans, and qualified individuals with disabilities, and failure to maintain required personnel and employment records.

The company has served as a subcontractor on several federal construction contracts and performed work for the Marine Corps, the Smithsonian Institution, Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Departments of Labor and Veterans Affairs.

Read DOL’s announcement of the lawsuit and investigative findings here.

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