Property Management Companies Harassed a Class of Hispanic Workers, Federal Agency Charges
BALTIMORE – Three interrelated companies which provide property management services to apartment complexes in Maryland and Virginia violated federal law when they subjected a class of Hispanic workers to harassment and suspended or fired employees who opposed the illegal practices, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced today.
The EEOC alleges in its lawsuit against Forest Lake, LLC, Forest Lake Inc. and Stanciu Management filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland (Civil Action No. 8:09-cv-02557-PJM), that the companies permitted ongoing harassment of maintenance workers based on national origin at their property management facility in Lanham, Md.. The harassment included a manager repeatedly addressing employees with expletives and ethnic epithets, such as “you f------ Puerto Rican”, “you f------ Salvadorans” and “you f----- Mexicans.”
The EEOC charges that the property management companies repeatedly threatened the Hispanic workers with termination. The company also treated them less favorably than non-Latino employees, such as forbidding them from leaving the apartment complex, but allowing non-Hispanic employees to do so, and giving them less time to complete work assignments.
Further, the companies fired Israel Irizarry and twice suspended Felix Gonzalez without pay because of their national origin and because they opposed the harassment and discrimination, according to the suit.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC attempted to reach a voluntary settlement before filing suit. The EEOC is seeking injunctive relief to prevent future discrimination and back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages on behalf of the victims of the discrimination.
“There is no excuse for the company to permit ethnic slurs and derogatory expletives to permeate the workplace,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “And the company further compounded its culpability by threatening and retaliating against its employees when they opposed the illegal behavior. The EEOC will act vigorously to uphold the laws prohibiting harassment and retaliation.”
“No employee should be forced to withstand such hateful and biased comments to keep his job,” said Debra Lawrence, acting regional attorney of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. “The EEOC filed this lawsuit to vindicate the rights of all employees to earn a living free from unlawful harassment.”
Workplace discrimination charge filings with the federal agency nationwide rose to an unprecedented level of 95,402 during Fiscal Year 2008—a 15 percent increase from the previous fiscal year.
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 October 5, 2009.
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