June 2, 2023

On May 4, 2023, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, a construction contractor with more than 50 locations across the country, has agreed to pay $1.2 million to a class of Black former workers and provide other relief to settle a race harassment and retaliation lawsuit. In the suit, the EEOC alleged that the company subjected Black employees to a racially hostile work environment while constructing the Google Data Center in Tennessee.

The lawsuit alleged that from May 2018 through fall 2019, Black workers on the construction site were targets of discriminatory treatment, including being referred to in racially derogatory language. Additionally, the EEOC alleged that buildings on the worksite were defaced with offensive graffiti and a noose was displayed on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Several employees complained but the company failed to investigate and fired two employees who reported the discrimination.

In addition to the settlement payment, the two-year consent decree requires Whiting-Turner to:

  • implement strict policies against racial graffiti, jokes, slurs, epithets, and hate symbols and distribute the policies to all of its permanent and temporary employees;assign an EEO liaison to each of its construction sites nationwide;
  • provide semi-annual anti-harassment, anti-discrimination and bystander intervention training to all permanent and temporary employees working on job sites or in the company’s offices;
  • provide semi-annual training on how to conduct investigations to the all of the company’s EEO officers and liaisons; .and
  • provide periodic reports to the EEOC showing that Whiting-Turner complied with the training requirements and disclosing the names of all employees who complained about racial discrimination, harassment or retaliation and the steps the company took to investigate the complaints.

The case is titled, EEOC v. The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, Case No. 3:21-cv-00753 (M.D. Tenn.).

When it announced the settlement, the EEOC noted that it would continue to pursue enforcement actions to eliminate racism and sex discrimination in the construction industry. The agency said that construction companies must take immediate action to combat discrimination, including making sure managers and supervisors are trained on Title VII and the need to take prompt action at the first sign of discriminatory conduct. 

How Traliant can help

HR Policies & Employee Handbook Service

Ensuring that an employee handbook is current and compliant presents a key challenge for many organizations. Employers must:

Develop a handbook that is compliant with federal and state laws in all jurisdictions where they have employees.
Monitor the law in all jurisdictions where they have employees and change their handbook as the laws change.
Ensure that employees acknowledge receipt of the handbook and revisions to it as it is updated.

Traliant’s Compliance Advisory Team can work with your organization to create a handbook that is both legally compliant and meets your company’s needs. Once the handbook is created and in use at your organization, we provide you with timely updates to its policies in response to changes in evolving federal and state law and help you assure that employees acknowledge receipt of the policies as the handbook change

Complete Harassment & EEO Compliance Program

To comply with federal guidelines and state laws, employers must ensure that all aspects of their harassment prevention program are fully compliant. With its in-house legal expertise, Traliant provides employers a complete workplace harassment prevention program with the following elements:

  • Employee Harassment Prevention Training
  • Harassment Policy, Notice, and Posting Compliance Service
  • Investigations Training and Investigative Services
  • Sensitivity Coaching

Unconscious Bias Training: Promoting a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace

Traliant’s interactive online training goes beyond detailing the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace to focus on practical steps that employees can take to help achieve this goal. Specifically, the course challenges learners to explore the nuances of unconscious and implicit biases, and how these biases can impact our judgements and decisions about others at work.

The unconscious bias training addresses a wide variety of hidden biases, such as those based on race, gender, religion, national origin, disability, age, and sexual orientation. The training also addresses biases based on a variety of personal characteristics such as height, weight, and attractiveness.

The training focuses on providing practical guidance that learners can implement immediately in their workplace to help reduce the impact of bias and promote a diverse and inclusive workplace.



Elissa Rossi