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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Thursday a Virginia-based security services firm will pay $1.6 million to settle the agency’s systemic national origin and retaliation discrimination lawsuit.
The EEOC said in its statement that Ashburn, Virginia-based MVM Inc. provided securities services for the National Institute of Health on each of its four Maryland research campuses.
A project manager who oversaw about 400 security personnel, about half of whom were foreign-born Africans, complained there were “too many Africans,” mocked their accents, and said he would fire Africans to reduce their number on the contract, according to the lawsuit, the EEOC said in its statement.
The EEOC said thereafter, MVM systematically denied leave to African employees; forced them to work on their days off; subjected them to heightened scrutiny, suspension, threats of termination and trumped-up misconduct charges; and fired them without cause.
The agency said the harassment continued despite dozens of claims, and that MVM retaliated by reducing workers’ hours, assigning them to undesirable posts, fabricating incidents of misconduct and firing them.
The company was charged with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Under terms of the two-year consent decree, $1.6 million will be paid to nine individuals and to a class of employees identified as having experienced unlawful discrimination and retaliation, among other provisions.
EEOC Assistant General Counsel Maria Salacus said in a statement, “Combating systemic harassment in the workplace remains a priority for the EEOC.”
The company did not respond to a request for comment.
Citing a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a discrimination case, a federal appeals court has reinstated discrimination and retaliation charges filed by a worker for a Washington county.