A New York state manufacturer will pay $93,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging it subjected workers to racism, sexism, and discrimination.

The U.S. Equal  Employment and Opportunity Commission recently announced the settlement with Porous Materials Inc., of Ithaca.

The EEOC lawsuit alleges a former plant manager called foreign-born employees "terrorists," used racial slurs, and made crude comments involving a noose to the company's lone black employee.

The plant manager said he was "sick" of immigrants "stealing jobs" from Americans, mocked employees who spoke other languages, and urged immigrant workers to leave the country.

The manager was equally abusive to women, loudly calling them vulgar names and saying they could not do a "man's job."

He also made unwanted sexual advances and comments about female employees' bodies.

EEOC said the company owner, rather than stopping the behavior, also treated females more harshly than males.

Civil Rights Violations

The conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, and national origin, and retaliating against people who complain about it.

The EEOC filed the suit in 2018 after first trying to reach pre-litigation settlement with Porous Materials in through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $93,000 settlement, the company agreed to a four-year consent decree that requires it to provide extensive training to its owner, all employees, and managers, retain an outside entity to investigate discrimination complaints, and modify its anti-discrimination policy.

"Harassment prevention starts at the top."

EEOC attorney Jeffrey Burstein

The EEOC will monitor the company's compliance over the next four years.

"Harassment prevention starts at the top," said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC's New York District Office.

"And just having an anti-harassment policy doesn't cut it. When owners and executives aren't committed to a respectful workplace, abuse can often follow."


For more information, contact CBIA’s Mark Soycher (860.244.1900) | @HRHotline