EEOC Says Staffing and Cable Companies Subjected Jewish Employees to Hostile Work Environment, Including Swastikas, Physical Harassment
BALTIMORE – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced a lawsuit against staffing giant Administaff, Inc. and Conn-X, LLC, which provides cable service in the Baltimore metropolitan area, for engaging in religious discrimination against employees.
In its suit, the EEOC charges that joint employers Conn-X, LLC, a Florida corporation with an office in Edgewood, Md., and Administaff, Inc., a Texas corporation, subjected Scott Jacobson and Joey Jacobson to physical and verbal harassment because of their religion, Judaism. The EEOC asserts that beginning in September 2005 and continuing throughout their employment, both Jacobsons, who are brothers, were called “dirty Jew,” “dumb Jew,” and other anti-Semitic slurs by managers and coworkers.
The harassment continued for a couple of years, the EEOC said, and included the defacing of Scott Jacobson’s work vehicle with a swastika symbol and physical harassment in which he was forced into a trash bin for the amusement of managers who observed them on a work surveillance camera and called it “throw the Jew in the dumpster.” Administaff severed its co-employment status with Conn-X shortly after Scott Jacobson filed his discrimination charge with the EEOC.
Religious harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division (Case No. 1:09-cv-02881-BEL) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.
“The harassment here was cruel and callous,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “The use of the swastika is an especially egregious and provocative act, and the anti-Semitic epithets and physical violence alleged here are also outrageous. The EEOC will act, and act forcefully, to rectify this kind of workplace abuse.”
The EEOC seeks monetary and injunctive relief for both Jacobsons and enjoins the officers and employees of both companies from engaging in further employment discrimination on the basis of religion. Further, the suit seeks to require the employers to establish policies and practices that provide equal employment opportunities for Jewish employees.
“Employers must take steps to prevent religious harassment of their employees,” said EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence. “We brought this lawsuit to remind employers of their legal responsibility to prevent and promptly correct this type of conduct.”
Religious discrimination charge filings with the EEOC nationwide totaled 3,273 in Fiscal Year 2008, up 11.4 percent from the prior year and the highest level in the past decade.
According to its web site, (www.administaff.com) “Administaff, Inc. is the nation's leading professional employer organization (PEO), serving as a full-service human resources department for small and medium-sized businesses throughout the United States. Administaff delivers its personnel management services by entering into a co-employment relationship with a client company and the client company’s existing employees, including the business owner. Under this arrangement, Administaff assumes or shares many of the responsibilities of being an employer.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available at its web site (www.eeoc.gov).