Black workers at an upstate New York construction site were given more difficult and dangerous jobs than white coworkers and faced other discrimination, according to a federal government lawsuit.
San Antonio-based CCC Group assigned black workers outside jobs in the winter while white colleagues worked indoors, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in the suit.
White supervisors and employees routinely made racist comments and used racial slurs—including on the company radio channel, the EEOC claims.
Black employees were also threatened with nooses at the worksite about 10 miles south of Albany, the suit alleges.
CCC Group, the sole defendant in the case, was a subcontractor at the Lafarge Ravena Cement Plant in Coeymans, N.Y., during a three-year renovation project from 2016-2019.
The alleged discrimination took place between May and November 2016.
Other allegations include:
- White workers bragged that that their ancestors had owned slaves
- A white supervisor tried to snare a black employee with a noose
- Another white supervisor told a black employee he didn't have to dress up for Halloween as the supervisor would dress in white, put a noose around the black worker's neck, "and we'll walk down the street together"
Despite complaints from black employees, the actions persisted, the EEOC said.
The agency sued the CCC Group in federal court in New York's Northern District after attempts to settle the case through the agency's conciliation process failed.
CCC Group, which no longer works at the New York site, did not comment on the allegations but the company that owns the cement plant said it found them "very concerning."
The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, plus injunctive relief to prevent future workplace racial harassment.
"Employers need to proactively prevent any behavior that creates a racially hostile workplace," said Jeffrey Burstein, an attorney for the EEOC's New York District Office.
"Here there were numerous examples of abhorrent racial discrimination and harassment.
"The use of a noose is especially vicious."