Occupational Health & Safety

EEOC Sues Chicago Janitorial Services Provider for Race Discrimination

Scrub Inc., a Chicago-based janitorial services provider, violated federal law by discriminating against African Americans in hiring, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged in a race discrimination lawsuit announced last week. The agency’s administrative investigation preceding the lawsuit revealed that although African American workers were a significant segment of Scrub’s labor market and applied for jobs in large numbers, they consistently made up less than two percent of the company’s work force.

Scrub provides janitorial services to the airline industry at O’Hare International Airport, as well as to the hospitality industry and private schools.

EEOC notes that race discrimination in hiring violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The agency filed suit (EEOC v. Scrub, Inc., Civil Action No. 09 Cc 4228) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division; the case was assigned to District Judge Suzanne Conlon. Before filing, EEOC first attempted to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process.

“This employer’s hiring practices systematically screened out numerous qualified black victims, and we are suing to seek justice on their behalf,” EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru said.

EEOC said it is seeking back pay as well as compensatory and punitive damages for Scrub’s discrim¬ination victims. The agency also seeks injunctive relief, including rightful-place hiring of African Americans, training, and instituting policies, practices and programs that provide for equal employment opportunity for black applicants and workers.

John Hendrickson, EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago, said, “Assuring the freedom to compete for jobs on a level playing field is one of the fundamental components of the EEOC’s mission. Race discrimination makes free and fair competition impossible, and such discrimination is prohibited by the laws we are charged with enforcing.”

John P. Rowe, director of the EEOC Chicago District Office, said, “The EEOC made good-faith efforts to remedy the situation through voluntary conciliation. The agency has now determined that we need to move to the next step provided by law and challenge the discrimination in court.”

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