EEOC sues Baltimore firm, where employees were allegedly called “slaves”

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BALTIMORE – Baltimore County-based Bay Country Professional Concrete violated federal law when it subjected a secretary to racial harassment and fired her in retaliation for her complaining about the harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Bay Country’s owner repeatedly used a racial slur in the presence of a secretary, who is white but was raised by an African American foster family. The secretary told him that the slur was offensive to her because her family is Black. The secretary publicly objected when the owner used the racial epithet during a staff meeting. Immediately after the meeting, the owner told the secretary he would terminate her if she ever complained to him in front of other staff about his use of racist language, the EEOC says. After the meeting, the owner escalated making racist slurs and even referred to employees as his “slaves.” The EEOC charges that despite the secretary’s satisfactory performance, the owner retaliated against her in job assignments and ultimately terminated her in retaliation for her complaints about racial harassment.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits harass­ment based on race or sex. Title VII also prohibits employers from firing an employee because she opposed or complained about harassment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Bay Country Professional Concrete LLC, Civil Action No. 1:19-cv-02846-ELH) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“Using racist slurs in the workplace violates common decency and federal law. It is particularly repugnant when the owner of a company is the one engaging in the racial harassment,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Jamie R. Williamson.

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, “No one is above the law, not even the owner of a company. Preventing unlawful workplace harassment is an enforcement priority for the EEOC.”

The EEOC’s Baltimore Field Office is one of four offices in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.

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