WASHINGTON, DC – Federal subcontractor Potomac Abatement Inc. – a construction company based in Jessup, Maryland – has entered into a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to pay $503,000 in back wages and interest, and extend job offers to 16 class members to remedy allegations of racial bias against 179 employees.
Filed with the Department’s Administrative Law Judges on Aug. 22, 2016, the lawsuit alleged that, from May 2011 to July 2012, Potomac Abatement violated Executive Order 11246 when it terminated Black employees because of their race, and paid Hispanic employees lower wages and racially harassed them. The action follows an OFCCP compliance investigation.
Under a consent decree, Potomac Abatement will pay $68,000 in back wages and interest to a class of 17 Black employees and extend job offers to 16 of the terminated Black class members. The employer will pay rehires as if they had continued working for Potomac after the date of their terminations. Potomac will also pay $435,000 in back pay and interest to a class of 162 Hispanic employees against whom Potomac discriminated. Potomac has also agreed to review and, if necessary, correct its procedures for terminations, compensation, and anti-harassment. The consent decree requires the employer to report the results of these efforts to OFCCP for the next three years.
“The Office of Federal Compliance Programs acknowledges the actions taken by this employer to reach a settlement and accept a consent decree that provides for appropriate remedies and ensures compliance going forward,” said OFCCP Director Craig Leen.
“This settlement goes a long way in making the employees who suffered discrimination whole. It also sends a clear message to all federal contractors – especially construction contractors and subcontractors – of the substantial costs of discrimination in any form,” said the Department’s Regional Solicitor Oscar L. Hampton III, in Philadelphia.
“OFCCP remains committed to enforcing laws that forbid discrimination in compensation and termination. Government contractors must monitor their compensation and termination procedures to ensure that they do not allow discriminatory or biased practices. If an employer finds that its processes are discriminatory, they must correct their processes to ensure equal employment opportunity for all employees,” said OFCCP Regional Director Michele Hodge in Philadelphia.
Potomac provides asbestos and lead abatement services, and has provided services under federal contract at the U.S. Capitol and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and for the U.S. Department of the Navy in Arlington, Virginia.
In addition to Executive Order 11246, OFCCP enforces Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. These laws, as amended, make it illegal for contractors and subcontractors doing business with the federal government to discriminate in employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran. In addition, contractors and subcontractors are prohibited from discriminating against applicants or employees because they have inquired about, discussed, or disclosed their compensation or the compensation of others subject to certain limitations, and may not retaliate against applicants or employees for engaging in protected activities. These laws also require that federal contractors provide equal employment opportunity through affirmative action. For more information, please call OFCCP’s toll-free helpline at 800-397-6251 or visit https://www.dol.gov/ofccp/.