Scales of Justice (Photo courtesy of Michael Coghlan via the Creative Commons License)
Scales of Justice (Photo courtesy of Michael Coghlan via the Creative Commons License)

The Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against a Maryland demolition contractor for discrimination and harassment of employees based on race and national origin.

In a press release from DoL, the Office of Federal Contract Complicate Programs found that Potomac Abatement, Inc. deliberately forced roughly 145 Hispanic employees into lower-paying jobs and subjected them to ongoing harassment due to their race and national origin. At least 17 African Americans were terminated from the company, according to DoL, due to their race. Hispanic employees were also mistreated, denied basic on-the-job necessities which were provided to other workers, were harassed by other workers including sexual harassment of Hispanic female workers, and Hispanic workers were also retailed against if they complained.

OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu said in a press release,
"Our investigation found egregious behavior by Potomac Abatement and its supervisors toward its workers. Potomac Abatement’s treatment of its workers is appalling. As a federal subcontractor, this employer is supported with taxpayer funds and, as such, agrees to uphold the highest standards and fulfill its legal responsibilities.”

Now, the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges has asked that Potomac be ordered to a) restore back wages for Hispanic and African-American workers, b)reinstate laid-off African-American workers, and c) develop and implement a compliant equal opportunity employment policy.

A press release from the Department of Labor continues with,
OFCCP enforces Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. These laws, as amended, make it illegal for contractors and subcontractors doing business with the federal government to discriminate in employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran. In addition, contractors and subcontractors are prohibited from discriminating against applicants or employees because they have inquired about, discussed or disclosed their compensation or that of others, subject to certain limitations.

Based in Jessup, Md., Potomac Abatement Inc., specializes in demolition work; particularly asbestos abatement. The company has been a subcontractor for several federal government construction contracts and performed work for the Marine Corps, the Smithsonian Institution, Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Departments of Labor and Veteran Affairs.

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