Florida Construction Companies Sued for Racial Harassment

The Crom Corporation and Crom Equip­ment Rentals violated federal law when they allowed the racial harassment of black employees, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced recently. EEOC also says the Florida-based construction companies unlawfully suspended an African American employee for complaining about severe racial insults, threats, and physical abuse.

According to the suit, a white employee at Crom's Holly Hill, Fla., location locked a black coworker in a tool shed and then spray-painted the shed door with the word "Jail." EEOC said that the same white employee also put a hangman's noose around the black employee's neck, hung the noose in his work area, and threatened to decapitate him.

Another African American employee was offended when he saw the noose hanging at the Holly Hill site. Crom was aware of the harassment but didn't stop it, according to the suit. Instead, EEOC said, Crom suspended the black worker after he complained about the noose and rewarded the white offender with a higher-paying position.

"It is shocking and sobering that such cruelty can still occur at an American workplace," said Stuart J. Ishimaru, EEOC acting chairman. "The EEOC will not falter in its quest to put an end to such injustice."

Racial harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida (EEOC v. The Crom Corporation, Case No. 1:09-cv-00128-SPM-AK) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

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