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Firm skids on ICE, eventually collides with EEOC

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources

It’s been a rough couple of months for American Building Maintenance (ABM), a nationwide janitorial services conglomerate that keeps running into trouble with the feds, most recently in a case involving a Minneapolis company.

Things started out rocky last November when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents busted it for employing 1,200 undocumented workers, the largest such raid in Minnesota history. ABM replaced the workers.

Bad turned to worse in January. That’s when the EEOC filed a complaint against ABM, alleging race discrimination against black workers hired last fall through a nonprofit Minneapolis employment agency called Emerge.

The employees placed by Emerge say they are paid less than other workers hired at the same time, and accuse ABM of holding back raises they were promised. They also claim they’ve been told to wear gray T-shirts, while most ABM employees wear red.

Two workers told the Minneapolis Star Tribune they were hired at $10.25 per hour, $2 an hour less than other new hires, and would get a raise only after completing a 60-day probationary period. They say probation came and went and they still haven’t seen the additional pay.

ABM claims the EEOC complaint is simply a ploy to strengthen the bargaining position of the Service Employees International Union, which represents ABM employees.

The company says a contract allows the lower pay scale for employees hired through Emerge. And it blames the T-shirt problem on a sudden shortage of red shirts following the ICE raid.

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