This article includes references to racial slurs that could be disturbing to readers.
- CCC Group, a San Antonio, Texas-based general contractor, entered into a consent decree this week to settle a racial harassment lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- CCC Group will pay a total of $420,000 in monetary relief for allegedly subjecting Black workers to racist harassment in 2016, and for creating and maintaining a hostile work environment for its Black employees, according to an EEOC release.
- The company, which has offices throughout Texas and in Florida, Utah and Tennessee, will also be required to provide a number of anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training programs and to update its nondiscrimination policies, as well as to never work with two former employees. The agreement contains no admission to any of the disputed allegations made against the contractor.
CCC Group will pay $225,000 to Gary Williams, a former employee who was allegedly the target of repeated harassment and discrimination, and $195,000 distributed among six other Black employees who worked for CCC Group in 2016 and whom the EEOC alleged were subjected to racial harassment by White supervisors and co-workers.
On a jobsite in Ravena, New York, White foremen and co-workers allegedly subjected Williams and other Black employees to numerous racist, stereotypical and demeaning comments, slurs, jokes and threats.
A Black welder journeyman who worked for CCC Group in May 2016 heard White employees refer to Black people as "gorillas" and "monkeys," and speak of "Getting rid of those [N-words]." The suit alleges that Ronald Verdoliva and White employees used an open radio channel to order Williams to perform tasks by referring to his race, including telling him to "Hurry your Black ass up" and "Get your Black ass down here" and calling him "boy," according to court documents. The radio channel was broadcast throughout the construction site, including to various supervisors and employees.
In another incident, White foreman Donald Vollmar ordered Williams to come to an area on the construction site. When Williams arrived, Vollmar had tied a rope into a noose and laid it on the ground to ensnare Williams. As Williams approached, Vollmar dragged the noose on the ground in front of Williams. Vollmar and other White employees laughed at the incident, according to court documents.
The EEOC also charged that a White supervisor told a Black employee that for Halloween, "You don't even have to dress up. I will dress in white and put a noose around your neck and we’ll walk down the street together." The EEOC further charged that one White employee bragged that his ancestors had owned slaves and that another White employee told a Black employee he walked funny because slaves used to walk with a bag on their shoulder picking cotton.
As part of the consent decree, CCC Group is prohibited from employing or contracting Verdoliva or Vollmar. Among other requirements, CCC Group must conduct companywide training for employees and managers to educate attendees about harassment and discrimination issues in the construction industry.
The lawsuit also alleges that CCC Group supervisors treated Black workers more harshly than their White peers, assigning them more physically demanding or menial work. This included tasks such as pouring concrete and cleaning up after others' work, rather than skilled jobs like ironworker, rigger, welder, and boilermaker, which were instead given to similarly qualified White employees.
Black employees were also allegedly given dangerous and difficult tasks such as welding high up in the air on the outside of a building under construction, according to court documents.
The CCC Group has a zero-tolerance policy for the types of language alleged in the case and any form of discrimination or harassment, said Joe Garza, CEO at CCC Group. He added that since the allegations arose five years ago, CCC Group has instituted all-new policies, hired an EEO manager and enacted a robust training program.
"We are pleased to have settled this case and we are equally pleased that the EEOC endorsed the measures our new leadership team has implemented over the past several years to strengthen our policies against discrimination, harassment and related behavior," Garza said in a statement emailed to Construction Dive. "We have the appropriate policies, diversity tracking efforts and employee training in place to ensure all employees feel comfortable in their workplace and also have the tools to report discriminatory or inappropriate language or actions."
The construction industry has dealt with a series of racist incidents on construction sites around the nation. In the most recent cases, Amazon shut down its Windsor, Connecticut, fulfillment center construction site after eight ropes tied like nooses were found. The developments follow at least 20 similar cases across the U.S and Canada since last spring.