Philadelphia water company accused of racial harassment

By Mark Iandolo | Oct 23, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a lawsuit Oct. 4 against Aqua America Inc. for allegations of subjecting black employees to a racially hostile work environment and firing a foreman who complained about the treatment

"All employees have the right to earn a living without being subjected to racial epithets and derogatory comments," said EEOC Philadelphia District Office regional attorney Debra M. Lawrence.

According to the EEOC, Henry Blue began work in January 2015 at the water company’s facility in Bear, Deawarel. Blue, an African-American, worked as a foreman. He, along with fellow black employees, was purportedly subjected to harassment from his supervisor, a white superintendent. Other foremen, who were white, also harassed him and the other black employees, the EEOC says. Blue complained to company management officials and was purportedly fired. Additionally, the company allegedly promoted the wrongdoers.

"Aqua was put on notice about the vile harassment but punished one of the victims instead of the wrongdoers,” said EEOC district director Kevin Berry. “The EEOC has provided detailed recommendations and resources to assist employers in preventing workplace harassment but will take strong enforcement action when employers choose to ignore their legal obligation to have a workplace free from harassment and retaliation."

The EEOC seeks back pay for Blue as well as compensatory and punitive damages for Blue and other class members. The agency also seeks injunctive relief to prevent further discrimination by the company.

The EEOC's Philadelphia District oversees agency operations in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the Philadelphia District Office also pros­ecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.

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