Racially Harassed Workers Receive $1.5 Million Settlement

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced a litigation settlement last week with Washington Group International Inc. for $1.5 million dollars, as well as significant injunctive relief on behalf of African American workers who were racially harassed and then retaliated against for complaining about it. WGI is a provider of planning, engineering, design, construction, technical, management, and operations and maintenance services to public and private sector clients.

EEOC charged in its lawsuit that WGI created a racially hostile work environment for black employees and failed to take appropriate action to remedy the discriminatory conduct at the Sithe Mystic Power Plant construction project in Everett, Mass.--which the company managed as general contractor from approximately December 2001 through June 2003. WGI not only subjected black employees to racial graffiti and other forms of harassment, EEOC said, but retaliated against them for complaining.

Under the decree, the company will pay $1.3 million to be shared among six African American former employees, and $200,000 will be apportioned among 11 similarly situated individuals identified during the litigation. Injunctive relief includes requiring the company to conduct anti-discrimination training and implement an anti-graffiti policy; revise its equal employment opportunity policies and procedures; post a notice about the settlement for all construction sites for the next two years; and monitoring by EEOC for a period of two years.

In 2000, WGI acquired Raytheon Engineers & Constructors, a global leader in chemical demilitarization and power facility development. In 2007, WGI was in turn acquired by URS Corp., one of the largest engineering design services firms in the United States. With that acquisition, WGI became the Washington Division of URS.

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