The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) interviewed Bachman Law founder Eric Bachman regarding the recent $1.2 million settlement that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recovered in an employment discrimination lawsuit.
The EEOC’s settlement and its ripple effects
According to the SHRM, the EEOC alleged that the employer, Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by, among other things:
- “Segregating Black employees by assigning them to all-Black crews that worked under white supervisors.
- Requiring Black employees to perform more physically demanding and less-desirable work assignments than those assigned to white employees.
- Retaliating against two Black workers for reporting discrimination during a team meeting.
- Allowing a racially hostile work environment to persist.
- Not allowing qualified Black employees to work in supervisory positions.
- Failing to provide employees with an anti-discrimination policy and instruct them on how to register discrimination complaints.”
Further, the SHRM article noted that, “the EEOC said white crew leaders used racially derogatory language when speaking to Black employees, and the worksite’s portable toilets were covered in racist graffiti and epithets. A noose was allegedly displayed in the workplace on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. The EEOC said the company failed to investigate discrimination complaints and fired two Black workers after they raised concerns about discrimination.”
SHRM quoted Bachman who noted that, in recent years, the EEOC has “‘been focusing more on impact litigation. They have limited resources. They want to be bringing cases that they think will bring the most bang for the buck and have the most deterrent effect on employers,’ said Eric Bachman, an attorney with Bachman Law in Bethesda, Md.” “Employers will hopefully take a hard look at their own internal procedures to make sure they’re compliant with the law.”
Further, “‘after receiving a complaint about harassment, HR should investigate right away and keep the employee updated on the status of the investigation, even if it’s not possible to disclose everything,’ Bachman said.” And, finally, “violators ‘need to be held accountable. They need to be disciplined. Without that, you’re just emboldening people to continue that discrimination. At the same time, you’re discouraging people from complaining about it,’ Bachman said.”
The legal framework for Title VII employment discrimination cases
To establish a prima facie case of race discrimination based on intentional discrimination an employee must show that they:
- are a member of a protected class,
- suffered an adverse employment action,
- met their employer’s legitimate expectations at the time of the adverse employment action, and
- were treated differently from similarly situated employees outside their protected class.
If these elements are met then the employer must articulate a non-discriminatory reason for the adverse employment action. If an employer does so, then the employee has to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the employer’s articulated reason is a mere pretext/ excuse for discrimination.
What remedies are available for race discrimination?
- Back pay damages for wages lost due to the harassment
- Emotional distress damages (also referred to as compensatory damages)
- Punitive damages designed to punish the employer for especially reckless or malicious harassment
- Reasonable attorney’s fees
About Bachman Law
Bachman Law provides one-on-one, resolute, and results-oriented representation for executives facing employment discrimination and whistleblower retaliation. Our goal is for each client to receive custom-tailored advice and individual attention from a highly experienced employment law litigator who has encountered a broad spectrum of employment discrimination and whistleblower retaliation scenarios. Clients will speak directly to a seasoned partner with over two decades of practicing employment law who will navigate the client every step of the way toward the best possible result.
What sets Bachman Law apart is our focus on three fundamental principles: judgment borne by experience, unwavering dedication, and results.
Our key practice areas in employment discrimination and whistleblower retaliation focus on:
- Sex harassment and gender discrimination cases
- Whistleblower retaliation cases involving corporate fraud, airline safety, and consumer products safety
- Age discrimination
- Race discrimination
Before founding Bachman Law, Bachman was a partner in two boutique employment law firms in Washington, DC, and also served in senior positions at the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC). His wins include a $1.3 million jury verdict in an individual employment discrimination case (tried with co-counsel), a $100 million settlement in a Title VII employment discrimination class action while at the DOJ, and a record-setting Whistleblower Protection Act settlement at OSC.