Company Systematically Fired Female Sheet Metal Workers, Federal Agency Charged
NEW YORK - Vamco Sheet Metals, Inc. violated federal law by serially firing female sheet metal workers working for the company on a state-funded construction project and otherwise treating them differently because of their sex, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. The Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.-based company fabricates and installs sheet metal on construction projects throughout the state.
At issue are Vamco's employment practices during its tenure as a subcontractor on the massive John Jay College of Criminal Justice expansion from 2009 through 2011, funded by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY). According to the EEOC's lawsuit, when women were referred to the John Jay project by their union - Local 28 of the Sheet Metal Workers' International Union - Vamco fired each one for pretextual reasons, some after just a few days of work. The EEOC also charged that the company discriminated against the women in various other ways during their short tenures, from monitoring the length of their bathroom breaks to assigning them menial tasks like fetching coffee to denying one woman, a new mother, a private place to pump breast milk.
The EEOC filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (13-CV-6088) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The suit seeks to recover past wages for all women harmed by Vamco's actions, as well as injunctive relief.
"Women may have made it into the ranks of multiple fields previously closed to them, but too often the construction industry is plagued by unrepentant discrimination," said Kevin Berry, district director of the EEOC's New York District Office. "The EEOC continues to fulfill its mission of attacking such practices in all workplaces so that there will no longer be any bastions of discrimination in America."
Thomas Lepak, the EEOC trial attorney handling the case, added, "In industries such as construction where women are still underrepresented, too many employers seem to believe that they're not bound by the same rules as everyone else. With this case and others, we're letting them know that they're held to the same standards as any other company operating in this day and age."
Enforcement of equal pay laws and targeting compensation systems and practices that discriminate based on gender, is of one of six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.