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EEOC Sues Spartan Plumbing For Race Harassment

Noose and Other Racist Symbols at Work Site; Employee Fired When He Complained, Federal Agency Charges

PHOENIX -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced that it has filed an employment discrimination suit against Spartan Plumbing, Inc., a company that provides plumbing services in Tucson, Ariz., and Las Vegas, Nev. In its lawsuit, EEOC v. Spartan Plumbing Inc, (Civil Action No 09-547 TUC-RCC), filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, the EEOC charges that the employee in this case was subjected to harassment based on his race, Black.

The suit alleges that supervisors and coworkers subjected the black employee to racial slurs and less desirable work assignments on a daily basis throughout his tenure at Spartan. In June 2007, the employee reported to work and encountered a swastika, “KKK,” and other symbols scrawled in paint on the floor of the work site, the EEOC said. He also found a noose made of insulation at the same location. After he reported the incident to management, he was fired as retaliation, the EEOC said.

Race discrimination in the workplace, including racial harassment, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC will seek monetary damages, including compensatory and punitive damages for the employee. In addition, the EEOC is seeking relief that calls for Spartan Plumbing to institute and implement policies designed to eradicate and prevent future episodes of race discrimination.

“The incidents alleged in this complaint remind us that racism remains a factor in the work­place,” said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill of the EEOC's Phoenix District Office. “Such bold racist actions must be addressed and eradicated by employers in the work environment. The EEOC will continue to vigorously defend the federally protected rights of victims who are subjected to discrimination and who exercise their rights to complain about discrimination to employers.”

EEOC Phoenix Acting District Director Rayford O. Irvin added, “Our investigation found that this racist misconduct was tolerated in the workplace and the company compounded the problem by firing the victim. This only makes a bad situation worse.”

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