Helicopter Maker Racially Harassed Workers, Federal Agency Charged
PHILADELPHIA –Sikorsky Global Helicopters, a Stratford, Conn.-based manufacturer of helicopters for commercial and military use, will pay $107,500 and furnish equitable relief to resolve a federal race discrimination, harassment and retaliation lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
The EEOC charged that a white supervisor and employees routinely made racially based derogatory slurs and remarks to African American employees who worked in the prep and paint department at Sikorsky’s facility in Coatesville, Pa. The harassment included an employee displaying a picture of an animal historically used to insult African Americans and then other employees mimicking the animal to insult the Black employees.
The EEOC said that the harassment continued after complaints to management and human resources. Sikorsky also refused to hire another temporary employee who worked as an aircraft painter as a permanent employee because of her race, African American, and in retaliation for her complaint about the racial harassment, according to the suit.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits racial harassment and discrimination. Title VII also prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee because she complained about harassment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation d/b/a Sikorsky Global Helicopters, Civil Action No. 2:19-cv-04514-PBT) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the $107,500 in monetary relief to the two claimants, the 18-month consent decree enjoins Sikorsky from engaging in race discrimination, race-based harassment, and retaliation in the future. Sikorsky must provide training on federal anti-discrimination laws, with an emphasis on preventing race-based harassment, to the Coatesville paint and prep department, and disseminate its anti-discrimination policy. Sikorsky must report to the EEOC on how it handles any future complaints of race discrimination and post a notice about the settlement.
“We are pleased Sikorsky worked with us to reach a settlement that compensates the two claimants and provides safeguards to protect other employees from harassment — and that the supervisor who made or condoned the harassing conduct is no longer employed by Sikorsky,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Office Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
EEOC Philadelphia District Office Director Jamie R. Williamson added, “We encourage all employers to engage in proactive prevention to ensure that employees are not subjected to unlawful harassment, discrimination or retaliation. We offer many resources on our website to assist employers in complying with our laws.”
Preventing harassment is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan.
The EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.