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Racial harassment costs contractors $1.65 million

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in Hiring,Human Resources

Four construction workers will share a $1.65 million settlement for racial harassment they endured while building a Conectiv power plant on the old Beth Steel site in Bethlehem.

The men said they had never been on a job site that didn’t feature racial harassment, but the harassment on this site was worse than usual. A life-size noose left hanging in their work area, persistent and extreme racial slurs, and “I love the Ku Klux Klan” scrawled inside portable toilets drove the men to file suit against Conectiv and three contractors.

Of the roughly 900 workers on the site, only about 20 are black. One of the plaintiffs, an ironworker, said he quit for fear of being assaulted.

Conectiv’s spokeswoman, Marianne Riding, blamed contractors and subcontractors for the problem. “As soon as we were notified, we did take remedial action,” she said.

Conectiv, now a subsidiary of Washington, D.C.-based Pepco Holdings, will pay $750,000. Del Matrix Service Industrial Contractors, of Eddystone, is out $450,000. Steel Suppliers Erectors, of Wilmington, Del., must pay $250,000 to the worker who quit. A.C. Dellovade, of Canonsburg, will pay $200,000.

Note: Hiring contractors? Beware! You can be held liable for violations by subcontractors against workers, whether you’re aware of the violations or not. Safeguard yourself by publishing clear guidelines for your contractors. Insist that they communicate your standards to their employees and enforce them on your work site.

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