Conectiv, others will pay $1.65M to settle racial suit

May 5, 2008 2:50:58 PM PDT
Conectiv Energy and three subcontractors will pay $1.65 million to settle a discrimination lawsuit filed by four black workers who said they were subjected to racial slurs, Ku Klux Klan graffiti and a noose that was left hanging for more than a week. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced the settlement Monday. One of the men will receive $250,000 and the three others each will receive $166,666.67, according to court documents.

The men alleged the harassment took place in 2002 and 2003 on a construction site at the former Bethlehem Steel site, where Conectiv was the general contractor and property owner on a project to build a new gas-fired power plant.

Comments made to the workers included "black men can't read or write" and "I think everyone should own one," the EEOC said. Graffiti was written in portable toilets on the site that included "I love the Ku Klux Klan" and "if u not white u not right," according to the suit. The noose, made of heavy rope, was hung from a beam above one of the men's work areas and was not removed for at least 10 days, the suit alleged.

"The harassment in this case is shocking and unconscionable," said Jacqueline McNair, EEOC regional attorney. "The display of hangman's nooses ... is abhorrent and will not be tolerated by the EEOC."

In July 2005, the federal agency sued Conectiv and subcontractors A.C. Dellovade Inc., Steel Suppliers Erectors Inc. and Matrix Services Industrial Contractors, doing business as Bogan Inc./Hale Group.

Under the $1.65 million settlement, Conectiv will pay $750,000, Matrix Services will pay $450,000, Steel Suppliers will pay $250,000, and A.C. Dellovade will pay $200,000.

The consent decree does not constitute an admission of guilt by any of the defendants. The settlement calls for Conectiv to revise its anti-discrimination policies, to post a notice about the settlement at its headquarters and all construction sites, and to provide anti-discrimination training.

"Conectiv Energy is committed to work force diversity as a core value for all of our employees and our contractors working at every site and facility," spokeswoman M.Q. Riding said. She added that managers were immediately directed to investigate when Conectiv learned of the allegations.

The Delaware-based company is a unit of Washington, D.C.-based Pepco Holdings Inc.

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