Contractor in Florida Sued for Racial Discrimination, Racial Harassment
On September 26th, 2023, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a federal racial discrimination and racial harassment lawsuit against an employer in Florida. Asphalt Paving Systems, Inc. (APS)—a large contractor with an office in Tampa—is facing allegations from a dozen African American employees of a hostile work environment. Below, you will find an overview of the allegations as well as the legal standard for hostile work environment claims.
An Overview of the Allegations: Racial Slurs, Racist Comments, and Discrimination
In a complaint filed in a federal court in Florida, the EEOC alleges that Asphalt Paving Systems, Inc. (APS) failed to properly remedy racial discrimination and racial harassment against African American workers at its Tampa, FL office. Among other things, the complaint alleges:
- Racial slurs, including the ‘N-word’, were used in the workplace;
- Racist comments were made in the workplace, including by supervisors;
- African American workers subject to a hostile work environment; and
- The employer effectively prevented one worker who complained from seeking alternative employment by contacting a prospective future employer to prevent the hiring.
The EEOC is suing the employer for violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. As part of the racial discrimination and racial harassment lawsuit, the employer is seeking all available remedies on behalf of the affected employees.
What is a Hostile Work Environment?
A hostile work environment is characterized by unwelcome behavior that is so severe or pervasive it alters the conditions of employment, creating an abusive atmosphere. To be clear, a hostile work environment is one that goes beyond occasional rudeness or isolated incidents. It is a term reserved for conduct that is so severe or so pervasive as to undermine fair working conditions.
To constitute a hostile work environment, the poor behavior—whether from bosses, coworkers, or customers/clients—must be based on a legally protected characteristic, such as race, gender, religion, age, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation. Some examples of conduct that may be a hostile environment include unwanted sexual advances, racial slurs, insults, and offensive jokes.
Racial Harassment May Constitute a Hostile Work Environment (Legally Actionable)
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits racial discrimination. The law is clear: Racial harassment that is so severe and/or so pervasive that it amounts to a hostile work environment is inherently a form of racial discrimination. Unfortunately, racial harassment remains a serious problem in workplaces in Florida and throughout the country. If you or your loved one was subject to a hostile work environment (harassment) based on race, color, or ethnicity, your rights may have been violated. Your employer may be legally liable for the hostile work environment.
Get Help From a Florida Racial Discrimination Attorney
Employees deserve a workplace free from all forms of race-based discrimination, including racial harassment. If you or your loved one was subject to race discrimination while on the job in Florida, please do not hesitate to contact an experienced attorney for immediate help with your case.