Women Working on John Jay College Expansion Treated Unfairly by Construction Contractor, Federal Agency Charged
NEW YORK – Construction contractor Vamco Sheet Metals, Inc., will pay $215,000 as part of the settlement of a sex discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. Legal Momentum, a women’s rights nonprofit organization (formerly NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund), joined the EEOC’s suit on behalf of four discrimination victims.
The lawsuit challenged the treatment of female sheet metal workers on the massive John Jay College of Criminal Justice expansion in Manhattan from 2009 through 2011. According to the lawsuit, female sheet metal workers were fired for pretextual reasons, some after just a few days of work. The suit also alleged that the women were treated unfavorably compared to men, including being assigned menial tasks like fetching coffee and having their breaks monitored. One new mother was denied a clean private place to pump breast milk.
Sex discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Vamco Sheet Metal, Inc., Civil Action No. 13-CV-6088) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the $215,000 in damages to be paid to the discrimination victims, the three-year consent decree resolving the case requires Vamco to implement policy revisions that provide for equal opportunities, distribute the policy to all employees, and post notice of this resolution. The decree also requires annual anti-discrimination training for all supervisory employees and monitoring of Vamco’s employment practices by the EEOC.
“These women had decades of experience as skilled sheet metal workers,” said EEOC New York Regional Attorney Robert D. Rose. “Employers, even in male-dominated industries like construction, must provide women an equal chance to prove their skills and practice their trade.”
Thomas Lepak, the EEOC trial attorney assigned to the case, added, “Through this consent decree, Vamco has agreed to changes that will help ensure women get a fair shake on the worksite.”
Carol Robles-Roman, Legal Momentum’s president and CEO, said, “The company now has a policy that expressly entitles nursing employees to an accommodation. We intend to work with other employers who operate in non-traditional work settings to help them follow Vamco’s lead.”
Legal Momentum (formerly NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund) is a national women’s rights organization that specifically focuses on economic justice and equality under the law for women and girls. Protecting women’s workplace rights is one of Legal Momentum’s priority areas. Legal Momentum has particularly worked on advancing the rights of pregnant workers, protecting women’s access to non-traditional employment opportunities, and safeguarding the employment rights of women who work in traditionally male-dominated industries.
Eliminating barriers to recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against women, racial/ethnic groups, religious groups, older workers, and people with disabilities is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
The EEOC is the federal government agency responsible for enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s website at www.eeoc.gov. The EEOC’s New York District Office oversees New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.