PHOENIX -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced
that it is suing a Utah construction company for workplace discrimination. EEOC charges that
managers for Holmes & Holmes created and perpetuated a hostile work environment of racial
harassment against African-American employees and then fired them in retaliation for complaining
about the racial harassment. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of two African-American victims and a
class of similarly aggrieved employees.
The EEOC’s lawsuit, CIV 2:10-cv-00955-BCW, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District
of Utah, alleges that African-American employees were routinely subjected to unwelcome racial
harassment, including egregious racial comments and slurs by the companies’ managers and
employees, which created a hostile work environment because of race. The complaint further alleges
that racial comments, racial “jokes”, and repeated use of the N-word were commonplace, and
frequently made by managers and coworkers at one of the companies’ construction sites. The
complaint also alleges that the two African-American employees who complained about the
harassment were unlawfully terminated in retaliation for their complaints.
Race discrimination in the workplace, including racial harassment and retaliation, violates Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Commission seeks monetary damages, including
compensatory and punitive damages for the two men and a class of other individuals. In addition, the
EEOC asks for injunctive relief that Holmes & Holmes institute and implement policies to eradicate
and prevent future episodes of race discrimination.
Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office whose jurisdiction
includes Utah, stated, “It is illegal for employers to allow racial harassment in the workplace and it is
also illegal for employers to fire employees when they report racial harassment to management. The
EEOC will continue to vigorously defend the federally-protected rights of discrimination victims that
to exercise their rights to complain about illegal treatment to employers.”
“Holmes & Holmes appears to have allowed and tolerated race discrimination in the
workplace,” said EEOC Acting District Director Rayford Irvin. “The incidents alleged in this
complaint remind us that, unfortunately, overt racism remains a factor in some workplaces. Such bold
racist actions must be addressed and eradicated from the work environment.”
EEOC Trial Attorney Richard Sexton added, “In this 21st-century work force, no one should
have to endure this type of behavior in order to make a living.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information
about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.