Hispanic Employees Were Harassed and Retaliated Against, Federal Agency Charged
BALTIMORE – Three related Maryland property management companies will pay $106,500 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a national origin discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC charged in its suit that Forest Lake, LLC, Forest Lake Inc. and Stanciu Management subjected Hispanic employees to a continuing pattern of discrimination and harassment based on national origin at their Lanham, Md., facility. The harassment and discrimination included repeatedly using offensive ethnic slurs and curse words toward them; ordering them to speak only English in the workplace at all times, regardless of circumstances; and threatening them with termination. The EEOC alleged that the companies imposed more stringent work requirements on Hispanic employees, such as giving them less time to complete job tasks than non-Hispanic employees and not allowing them to leave the apartment complex for lunch but permitting non-Hispanic employees to do so.
Further, the EEOC charged that the companies terminated one Hispanic employee and suspended another without pay because they complained about the national origin harassment and discrimination.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination and harassment based on national origin. Title VII also forbids employers from retaliating against employees who complain about discrimination. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland (Civil Action Number 09:cv:02557) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court through its conciliation process.
In addition to the $106,500 in monetary relief, the 30-month consent decree includes injunctions against engaging in retaliation, discrimination or harassment based on national origin and mandatory anti-discrimination training of all supervisors and employees. Employees will be permitted to speak languages other than English in the workplace, as long as this poses no business hardship, in accordance with EEOC regulations. The companies will implement and maintain a complaint procedure for the investigation of allegations or suspected incidents of discrimination, harassment or retaliation. The companies will also disseminate to employees, in English and Spanish, a copy of their anti-discrimination policies and a memorandum to all employees emphasizing the companies’ commitment to abide by federal anti-discrimination laws, and post anti-discrimination notices. Additionally, the companies will be required to report periodically to the EEOC regarding any complaints of discrimination, harassment or retaliation.
“National origin discrimination remains a pernicious problem in the workplace,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence of the agency’s Philadelphia District Office, which has jurisdiction over Maryland. “We are pleased that Forest Lake and Stanciu Management worked with us to resolve this lawsuit and to implement policies to protect all employees from unlawful discrimination or retaliation.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available at its web site at (www.eeoc.gov).