BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a lawsuit July 20 against MVM Inc., a diversified security services firm with headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia, for allegations of failing to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs and then retaliating against him for complaining of racial harassment.
"No one should be subjected to racial slurs to earn a living," said Spencer H. Lewis Jr., district director of the EEOC's Philadelphia District Office. "Mr. Davis exercised his civil right to complain about racial harassment, but MVM unfortunately chose to engage in reprisal instead of addressing the harassment."
According to allegations, Kelvin Davis is a practicing Muslim and observes his faith by wearing a beard. MVM hired Davis to work as a security guard at a facility in Woodlawn, Maryland, and originally granted him a religious accommodation for his beard despite company grooming policies that restricted beards. Davis worked for the company for about a year and then complained to MVM management because his supervisor allegedly used a racial slur against him. No corrective action was taken, and the supervisor and two managers purportedly retaliated against him by making him shave his beard.
"Retaliation always makes a bad situation worse,” said EEOC regional attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “Employers must take action to investigate and stop racial harassment, not punish the victim, and that's why we filed this suit."
EEOC seeks back pay and compensatory damages and punitive damages on behalf of Davis. Additionally, the agency seeks injunctive relief to prevent the company from future discrimination.