EEOC Says RJB Properties Harassed and Fired Hispanic Employees and Retaliated Against Supervisors Who Refused to Fire Hispanic Employees
CHICAGO - RJB Properties, Inc. (RJB), a janitorial company headquartered in Orland Park, Ill., will pay $360,000 and provide other non-monetary relief under a consent decree resolving an employment discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The EEOC had alleged that RJB illegally fired a group of Hispanic janitors because of their national origin and subjected them to harassment and discriminatory work conditions. These included the use of ethnic slurs and requiring that Hispanic employees perform more difficult work than non-Hispanic co-workers. EEOC also alleged that RJB retaliated against two African-American supervisors by firing one and forcing the other to quit because they refused to follow the vice president's orders to fire Hispanic employees. In addition, EEOC alleged that one of those supervisors, a man, was sexually harassed and fired for refusing to submit to his female supervisor's sexual advances.
The consent decree entered by United States Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys May 1, 2013, provides $360,000 in monetary relief to be distributed to ten discrimination victims. In addition, the decree prohibits RJB from engaging in national origin discrimination or harassment, sexual harassment, or retaliation.
During the two-year term of the decree, RJB must provide a wide variety of additional defined relief targeted to combat the discrimination alleged by EEOC. It must revise and distribute a policy in English and Spanish against national origin discrimination and harassment, sexual harassment, and retaliation, and provide annual training in English and Spanish to all employees regarding the company's policy and complaint procedure. It must also identify a Spanish-speaking employee to receive complaints of discrimination or harassment, and maintain records of complaints. In addition, RJB is required to provide periodic reports to EEOC of any complaints of discrimination, and to post a notice in English and Spanish regarding the resolution of the suit.
John Hendrickson, EEOC's Regional Attorney in Chicago, said, "EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan has made protecting the rights of vulnerable workers, like the relatively low-wage janitors here, a priority. We hope our work on this case signals that this priority is not just a matter of paying lip service, but that we are putting real muscle behind it."
"We are pleased with this decree because it includes a number of provisions specifically tailored to have a real, practical impact upon the discrimination we intended to challenge," added EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Diane Smason, "We were interested not only in money but in effecting a real change, and we think this consent decree will do that."
"Firing Hispanic workers because of their national origin clearly violates Title VII," said John Rowe, EEOC's district director in Chicago who oversaw the EEOC's administrative investigation of the charges of discrimination underlying the lawsuit. "Title VII also makes it illegal to retaliate against employees who oppose discrimination. Firing supervisors, like EEOC alleged RJB did in this case, because they stood up and refused to go along with their company's discriminatory orders is illegal retaliation. Combating retaliation has long been a high priority for us."
The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The suit was brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on national origin and sex (including harassment) as well as retaliation for complaining about discrimination. The EEOC filed the case (EEOC v. RJB Properties, Inc. and Blackstone Consulting, Inc., No. 10-CV-2001) in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on March 31, 2010. In addition to Hendrickson and Smason, EEOC was represented by trial attorneys Ann Henry, Laura Feldman, and Gordon Waldron.
The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available at www.eeoc.gov .