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Press Release 04-13-2016

Union and Apprentice Program To Pay $1,650,000 to Settle Part of EEOC Race Bias Lawsuit

New Jersey's Local 25 Sheet Metal Union Failed to Employ Black and Hispanic Journeypersons, Federal Agency Charged

NEW YORK - Local 25 of the Sheet Metal Workers' International Association and its associated apprenticeship school will pay a combined $1.65 million and provide substantial remedial relief in partial settlement of race discrimination claims made against them by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

EEOC's decades-old lawsuit continues to address allegations that Local 25, which is the trade union for sheet metal journeypersons in northern New Jersey, together with Local 25 Joint Apprenticeship Committee, discriminated against black and Hispanic journeypersons in hiring and assignments. The settlement covers violations from April 1991 through December 2002. Analysis of hours and wages showed African-American and Hispanic workers received fewer hours of work than their white co-workers for most of the 10-year period. Prior court actions in the lawsuit resolved violations before April 1991.

The lawsuit underlying this settlement (EEOC, et al., v. Local 638, et, al., Case No. 71 Civ. 2887 (LAK)) was filed in 1971 by the U.S. Department of Justice in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. EEOC replaced the Department of Justice as prosecuting counsel in 1974. The case was originally filed against Local 25's predecessors, Sheet Metal Workers' International Association Local Union No. 10 and the Local 10 Joint Apprenticeship Committee. In 1981, Local 10 merged with other unions into Local 28 of the Sheet Metal Workers' International Association and the Local 28 JAC of Northern New Jersey. Local 25 demerged from Local 28 in 1991.

The settlement of claims for the April 1991 through December 2002 period has been approved by U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan. Pursuant to the settlement, Local 25 will pay $1.65 million in damages to journeypersons harmed by the discrimination. As part of the settlement, Local 25 agreed to an injunction against discrimination on the basis of race and national origin with regard to hiring, termination and the assignment of hours and wages. Local 25 also agreed to an injunction against thwarting, frustrating, impairing, or otherwise impeding the goals of the court's anti-discrimination orders.

"EEOC is committed to ensuring equal opportunities throughout the construction trade," said EEOC New York District Office district director Kevin Berry. "Through remedial agreements like the one in this case, we can rid this industry of such invidious race discrimination."

EEOC's New York acting regional attorney Raechel Adams said, "EEOC will continue to bring strong enforcement actions until black and Hispanic sheet metal workers no longer face discrimination on the jobsite. Today's settlement is an important step in realizing justice for these workers."

Eliminating discriminatory barriers to recruitment and hiring is one of EEOC's six nationwide priorities identified in its Strategic Enforcement Plan for fiscal year 2013-16.

EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available at its website at EEOC's New York District Office oversees New York, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and parts of New Jersey.