OC construction firm sued for harassment of Latino workers

Federal regulators have sued an Orange County construction firm for harassment of Latino workers, alleging the company mocked them if they couldn’t speak English and referred to them as “wetbacks” and “home depoteros.”

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit, filed Tuesday, Sept. 27 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, claims Laguna Niguel-based Goodsell/Wilkins‘ actions violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

That prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

The EEOC suit seeks a jury trial and compensatory and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief aimed at preventing future discrimination at the company.

A male Mexican worker, who began work at Goodsell/Wilkins around December 2017, stayed with the company until June 2019, the action says, when he was laid off after complaining of harassment to his supervisors and managers.

Another male employee of Nicaraguan descent and some of his co-workers were allegedly fired on or about Sept. 19, 2019 for making similar complaints of harassment.

The harassment included offensive racial graffiti on the walls of portable bathrooms where the employees were working, as well as as drawings and images depicting people jumping over fences “in mockery of Hispanic/Latino workers presumed to have illegally crossed the border into the United States,” the complaint says.

Company supervisors sexually degraded the workers, calling them “whores,” showing inapprorpiate sexual images and spreading false rumors about their sexual orientation, according to the lawsuit.

Representatives with Goodsell/Wilkins could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

“The comments were ubiquitous, open, frequent, and consistent in nature,” the lawsuit said, adding that “the graffiti was present on a daily basis and conspicuously displayed.”

Workers informed Goodsell/Wilkins of the treatment they were enduring, the complaint said, but the company “failed and refused to take prompt and appropriate action to stop the harassment and the resulting hostile work environment.”

The lawsuit seeks appropriate back pay for workers (if applicable), with interest in amounts to be determined at trial, in addition to punitive damages for the company’s “malicious or reckless conduct.” It also seeks compensation for emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, humiliation, and loss of enjoyment of life in amounts to be determined at trial.

Share the Post:

Related Posts