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EEOC: Racist Name Calling by Supervisor Case Settled

EEOC News
U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION (602) 640-5000
3300 North Central Avenue, Suite 690 TTY (602) 640-5072
Phoenix, AZ 85012 FAX (602) 640-5009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 10, 2009

Regional Attorney
Phoenix District Office
Telephone: (602) 640-5044
David Lopez
Supervisory Trial Attorney
Telephone: (602) 640-5016
Diana Crespo Weaver
Trial Attorney
Telephone: (602) 640-5020


WHEELER CONSTRUCTION TO PAY $325,000 TO SETTLE
EEOC NATIONAL ORIGIN HARASSMENT SUIT


Racist Name Calling by Supervisor at Issue


PHOENIX -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced
that Wheeler Construction, Inc., a Phoenix-based construction company, has agreed to settle the
EEOC’s race harassment suit for $325,000 and a consent decree.
The EEOC’s complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona charged that
employees Leonard Lopez and Juan Campos were subjected to harassment based on their national
origin (Mexican) and retaliation for complaining about it. The harassment included comments by a
supervisor referring to employees as “wetbacks” and “s--cs” and telling Latino employees to “go back
to Mexico.” Lopez was born and raised in Glendale, Ariz., and had 20 years of service with Wheeler
Construction at the time of the harassment. When Lopez complained to management about the
harassment he was fired.
Campos also attempted to complain about the harassment and Wheeler failed to take any action
to address it. After an EEOC investigation, the agency found that two additional employees alerted
management of the discrimination and no action was taken.
WHEELER SETTLES WITH EEOC – PAGE 2
Wheeler Construction agreed to settle the case for $325,000 and substantial injunctive relief,
including an injunction, posting an anti-discrimination notice and training its employees on antidiscrimination
laws.
“These victims attempted to speak out and address their unlawful treatment and their
complaints were ignored,” said Chester V. Bailey, director for the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office.
“Employers need to take action when alerted to illegal discrimination in the workplace. No employee
should be subjected to such intolerable work conditions.”
Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the Phoenix District Office, said, “The fact that these
employees work at a construction site is no excuse for the outrageous racial slurs that were used
against Mr. Lopez and Mr. Campos. We are especially concerned that the ugly racist comments were
made by a supervisor. Instead of stopping this behavior, the company failed to act appropriately and
compounded its culpability by retaliating against its employees.”
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination
based on race, color, gender (including sexual harassment and pregnancy), religion, national origin,
age, disability and retaliation. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at
www.eeoc.gov.
###



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