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EEOC alleges racial discrimination, retaliation at Woodlawn security facility

A Virginia-based security services company is facing a federal lawsuit for allegedly ceasing to accommodate a Muslim employee after he complained of racial and religious harassment at its Woodlawn facility.

MVM Inc. has been accused by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for violations of the Civil Rights Act dating as far back as September 2015, according to a federal lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

In a statement, MVM said it “respects the religious and racial makeup of our diverse workforce, and we are confident that our employment practices are committed to the fair and equal treatment of our employees.”

Kelvin Davis, who is black and a practicing Muslim, worked as a security guard in Woodlawn and was permitted to wear a beard longer than the MVM grooming policy allowed as a religious accommodation when he was hired in August 2014, according to the lawsuit.

Davis complained to management in September 2015 that his supervisor used a racial slur when speaking to him, according to the lawsuit. No action was taken, and the next day Davis’ supervisor and two managers demanded he shave his beard, which he did after they threatened him with losing his job.

Less than a month later, Davis alleged he was disciplined for arriving to work two minutes late, which others did and were not punished for, the complaint states. He also was falsely accused of violating orders by taking an unscheduled break in an unauthorized area, according to the complaint. Davis received a one-day unpaid suspension a week later and was told his file was under review, according to the complaint.

Davis ultimately resigned because of his concern a firing would make him ineligible for a government security clearance, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit alleges MVM retaliated against Davis by subjecting him to heightened scrutiny and unwarranted discipline and threatening termination.

“Retaliation always makes a bad situation worse,” EEOC attorney Debra M. Lawrence said in a prepared statement. “Employers must take action to investigate and stop racial harassment, not punish the victim, and that’s why we filed this suit.”

The lawsuit seeks an injunction preventing MVM from subjecting employees to a hostile work environment, an order requiring policies to eradicate the effects of past and present unlawful practices, and back pay and other compensation for Davis.

The case is Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. MVM Inc., 1:17-cv-02025-CCB.

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