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Union local settles decades-old EEOC race bias lawsuit

Posted On: Apr. 14, 2016 12:00 AM CST

A New Jersey-based sheet metal workers union has agreed to pay $1.65 million to settle an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission racial bias lawsuit that covered a period in 1991-2002, whose underlying lawsuit was first filed in 1971, the EEOC said Wednesday.

The local, Carlstadt, New Jersey-based Local 25 of the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association and its associated apprenticeship school, said in a statement it has worked to eliminate the vestiges of any past discrimination.

The EEOC said in its statement that the decades-old lawsuit continues to address allegations that the local for sheet metal journey persons in northern Jew Jersey, together with the Local 25 Joint Apprenticeship Committee, had discriminated against black and Hispanic journey persons for hiring and assignment. The settlement covers violations from April 1991 through December 2002, the agency said.

It said analysis of hours and wages shows African-American and Hispanic workers received fewer hours of work than their white co-workers for most of that period, and prior actions in the lawsuit resolved violations that occurred before April 1991.

The union said in a statement that 39 black and Hispanic workers will soon receive a portion of the $1.65 million.

“EEOC is committed to ensuring equal opportunities throughout the construction trade,” said EEOC New York District Office District Director Kevin Berry, in a statement. “Through remedial agreements like the one in this case, we can rid this industry of such invidious race discrimination.”

“We are glad that this matter has finally been resolved,” said Joseph Demark, Jr., Local 25’s president/business manager and co-chairman of its apprenticeship committee, in a statement. “Our local has worked to eliminate the vestiges of any discrimination that may have existed in the past, and I believe we have been successful in that effort. This settlement will further good relations and fair dealing among all of our members and employers as we continue forward together.”

The statement said also the litigation stems from before Local 25 was established as an independent entity, and that it has not admitted to charges in the matter.