Bryan Cohen Feb. 26, 2014, 3:04pm

TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Acting Attorney General John Hoffman announced a $400,000 settlement on Monday with a Vineland-based mechanical contracting company to resolve allegations of gender bias on jobs it handled.

Falasca Mechanical Inc. allegedly violated the law and state equal employment opportunity rules by failing to employ female plumbers on its jobs, including multiple publicly-funded projects. After working continuously for Falasca between December 2006 and January 2009, female plumber Bette Feldeisen alleged she was repeatedly passed over by the contractor for private and public projects for less experienced male plumbers.

Hoffman's Division on Civil Rights alleged Falasca failed to hire or request a single female plumber while handling 29 public works contractors. The contracts yielded approximately $93 million in revenue for the company.

"This is a significant settlement, not only in monetary terms, but in terms of ensuring future compliance with New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination and equal employment opportunity hiring rules," Hoffman said. "This case should serve as a reminder to other contractors, particularly those who are classified by our Department of Treasury as eligible to compete for public works projects: we are serious about equal opportunity in hiring, and will take action against any employer who fails to follow the law in this area."

Feldeisen, a member of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union No. 322, alleged that despite her experience and prior employment relationship with Falasca, she was repeatedly passed over by the contractor and Local Union 322. Hoffman alleged Falasca failed to make a good faith effort to employ female plumbers.

Under the terms of the settlement, Falasca will pay the state $250,000 and Feldeisen $150,000 to resolve the allegations. Under the same settlement, Local Union 322 will join with Falasca to increase female recruitment into the union. The union agreed to increase training and employment opportunities for female plumbers during the next three apprenticeship cycles.

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