The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

PRESS RELEASE
5-29-09

AREA ERECTORS, INC. TO PAY $630,000 TO CLASS OF BLACK WORKERS IN RACE DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT

EEOC Settles Race and Retaliation Suit Against Rockford, Ill.-based Construction Firm

CHICAGO – Area Erectors, Inc., a construction company headquartered in Rockford, Ill., will pay $630,000 and provide significant remedial relief to settle a race discrimination class lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

The EEOC’s suit, filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (EEOC v. Area Erectors, Inc., No. 1:07-CV-02339), charged that Area Erectors terminated Giles Jefferson and a class of 23 other black employees because of their race. In addition, the EEOC alleged that Area Erectors fired Jefferson as a retaliatory measure after it discovered he had filed a lawsuit against another employer for race discrimination.

“No group of employees should ever be targeted for layoffs based on race, and the EEOC will vigorously prosecute systemic race discrimination cases,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. ‘This substantial settlement sends a clear signal that we will insist on meaningful and significant relief in order to resolve these cases.”

The EEOC filed suit on Sept. 15, 2006, after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. Jefferson intervened in the EEOC’s suit and was represented by Jeffrey Cummings of Miner, Barnhill & Galland. The consent decree resolving the suit, signed by Magistrate Judge P. Michael Mahoney, provides that Area Erectors will pay $630,000 to Jefferson and the 23 other claimants, and offer to reinstate eligible claimants.

Additionally, the three-year decree enjoins the company from engaging in future discrimination and retaliation; requires that it implement a policy against race discrimination and retaliation, as well as a procedure for handling complaints of race discrimination and retaliation; mandates that the company provide training to employees regarding race discrimination and retaliation; and requires the company to provide periodic reports to the EEOC regarding layoffs and complaints of discrimination and retaliation.

“We found in this case that Area Erectors had a practice of laying off black employees after they had worked for the company for short periods of time, but retained white employees for long-term employment,” explained EEOC Trial Attorney Ann Henry, who led the government’s litigation effort. “We are optimistic that the consent decree will correct this practice and lead to equal employment opportunities for black workers.”

EEOC Regional Attorney John Hendrickson of the Chicago District Office added, “We are very satisfied with both the monetary and extensive non-monetary relief provided for in the consent decree. In this economic climate, we’re especially pleased that Area Erectors will be required to offer the claimants reinstatement at the company.”

During Fiscal Year 2008, the EEOC received 33,937 race discrimination charge filings, up 11 percent from the prior year. Race discrimination continues to be the most frequent allegation in annual charge filings with the EEOC nationwide.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.


This page was last modified on May 29, 2009.

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