Press Release 11-03-2020

Blackstone Consulting, Inc. Will Pay $37,500 To Settle EEOC National Origin Discrimination Suit

Los Angeles-Based Service Fired Cleaner Because She Wasn’t Fluent in English, Federal Agency Charged

BALTIMORE – Blackstone Consulting Inc, which provides environmental, facilities management and other services to clients, will pay $37,500 in monetary relief and furnish equitable relief to settle a federal national origin discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.

According to the suit, Blackstone hired a woman from El Salvador, who had limited English-speaking skills, as a part-time cleaner. Blackstone interviewed and trained her in Spanish and assigned her to work with a Spanish-speaking supervisor and coworker at a client site in Hyattsville, Md., where she performed her job satisfactorily. About two months later, however, the environmental services director made a derogatory comment to her about Hispanics, and said, “How is it that you do not know how to speak English? In this company you are not allowed to work here if you don’t know how to speak English.” The director terminated her and told her she could have her job back if she learned to speak perfect English in 30 days.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from discrimination based on national origin. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Blackstone Consulting Inc., Case No. 8:19-cv-003365-GLS) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Southern Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary administrative conciliation process.

In addition to the $37,500 in monetary relief to the worker, the 18-month consent decree enjoins Blackstone from implementing an English proficiency requirement which exceeds the level of language required for its contracted environmental services positions and from firing employees based on their national origin. The company must provide training on Title VII, make its equal employment opportunity policy available to all employees in English and Spanish, and post the required EEOC poster and a notice about this settlement in English and Spanish.

“The EEOC is committed to protecting vulnerable workers from unlawful discrimination,” said Philadelphia Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “We are pleased this settlement compensates the worker for her losses, protects applicants and employees from unlawful national origin discrimination, and that the environmental services director is no longer employed by Blackstone.”

EEOC District Director Jamie R. Williamson said, “An employer may require an employee to speak fluent English if it is truly necessary to perform the job effectively. In this case, however, the employee was doing her job satisfactorily but was wrongfully terminated because she didn’t speak ‘perfect English’ and that was unlawful national origin discrimination.”

Eliminating discriminatory policies affecting vulnerable workers who may be unaware of their rights under equal employment laws or reluctant or unable to exercise them is one of six national priorities identified by the agency's Strategic Enforcement Plan.

The lawsuit was commenced by EEOC's Baltimore Field Office, one of four component offices of EEOC's Philadelphia District Office. The Philadelphia District Office is responsible for cases originating in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.