Owner May be Liable for Race Discrimination Under “Joint Employer” Theory

A recent race discrimination case looked at who should be held responsible for alleged discriminatory actions at a construction site. In EEOC v. Skanska USA Bldg., Inc. a group of black workers hired by a subcontractor brought a claim for discrimination based on race harassment that occurred at the site. Specifically, the men alleged that they suffered significant discrimination and harassment while employed as buck hoist operators, including one worker and others being called “n—–,” “monkey, ” and “black motherf—–s” as well as being exposed racist graffiti in portable toilets at the jobsite. Someone also threw liquid from a porta-potty onto the man’s arms and into his eyes, causing them to swell.

Such allegations of horrible treatment – if true – likely constitute race discrimination. Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against their employees “because of” their race or color. That means that employers may not take your race or color, or your perceived race or color, into consideration in making employment decisions. Sometimes, race discrimination may not involve official company practices, but rather involve racial harassment, such as the use of derogatory racial jokes by co-employees without knowledge of company management. Whether it is an official company policy, or harassment by co-employees, you may not be subjected to adverse action, including harassment, because of your race or color.

If you believe that you been subjected to race discrimination at work, it is critical to consult with a dedicated Atlanta race discrimination lawyer right away.

In this instance, the workers complained to the constructions site’s owner, managers and others about their treatment. However according to the lawsuit, nothing was ever done to stop the harassment,

The workers asserted that both the subcontractor and the owners should be held responsible under a “joint employer theory.” The appeals court agreed, explaining that a company can be liable under Title VII if it had sufficient ability to hire, fire or discipline another entity’s workers, direct or supervise them or otherwise control such workers. Here, because the owner controlled the buck hoist operators’ day-to-day activities and performance, the appeals court said the owner could be found liable as well.

Although the appeals court hadn’t previously applied the joint employer theory to a Title VII case, it determined that this theory could apply here noting that entities are considered to be joint employers when they “share or co-determine” the essential terms and conditions of a worker’s employment.

For more information, or if you have questions about race discrimination, contact the top Georgia race discrimination lawyers for an immediate case evaluation.