EEOC secures $125,000 settlement with Minn. construction company for alleged racial harassment

By Mark Iandolo | Sep 19, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced Sept. 7 that JL Schwieters Construction Inc. will pay $125,000 after allegations of racial harassment.

"Employees have a right to work in an environment free of racial harassment, particularly the kind of severe and outrageous abuse the EEOC uncovered in its investigation of this case," said Julianne Bowman, director of the EEOC's Chicago District.

According to the EEOC, Willie Staple and Dion Pye were employees at JL Schwieters from September 2012 to December 2013. Both employees were allegedly subjected to racial harassment by a white supervisor. The harassment purportedly included the use of derogatory slurs. Additionally, the manager allegedly made a noose out of electrical wire and threatened to hang the employees.

"Nooses and threats are absolutely unacceptable in 21st Century America,” said Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC's Chicago District. “When such terrible treatment is meted out to workers simply because of their race, the EEOC will fulfill its mandate and take action to stop it."

Handling the case for the EEOC was trial attorney Tina Burnside.

The EEOC's Chicago District Office oversees agency operations in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa. It includes area offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

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