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EEOC accuses Hanover industrial staffing firm of sex bias

Green JobWorks kep women from demolition jobs, agency says

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission headquarters and Washington Field Office. (Wikimedia Commons / AgnosticPreachersKid / “Woodward_and_Lothrop_Service_Warehouse” / CC BY-SA 3.0

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission headquarters and Washington field office. (Wikimedia Commons / AgnosticPreachersKid / “Woodward_and_Lothrop_Service_Warehouse” / CC BY-SA 3.0

A Hanover-based industrial staffing company has refused to hire or assign women to demolition and laborer positions and has asked its clients if they preferred male or female workers, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has alleged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal district court.

Green JobWorks LLC was clear about its gender-based hiring and assigning, telling female job applicants that it sought only men for the heavy machinery positions while assigning women to cleaning jobs, EEOC claimed. The company’s actions violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s prohibition on gender discrimination in employment, EEOC alleged.

“Despite the fact that equal employment opportunity has been the law of this country for over half a century, sex discrimination remains a persistent problem in the job market,” Jamie Williamson, director of EEOC’s Philadelphia district, said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “The EEOC will continue to be vigilant in its effort to root out workplace gender bias in all of its forms.”

Larry Lopez, Green JobWorks’ president, did not immediately respond to telephone messages Wednesday seeking comment on EEOC’s lawsuit.

In its complaint, EEOC alleged Green JobWorks has engaged in a “pattern or practice” of unlawful bias since 2014 against women. The agency cited the experiences of three women in particular who either sought a job at the staffing company or were assigned to one of its client’s sites.

Denise Williams came to Green JobWorks in August 2017 with demolition and construction experience, including operating heavy equipment, according to EEOC’s complaint.

However, Green JobWorks did not assign her or any other female employee to operate the machinery, EEOC alleged. Instead, Williams and the other women were “relegated” to “clean up, which mostly consisted of managing the trash at the job sites,” the commission added.

Quandra Gaines applied to Green JobWorks in October 2017 with certification in the tasks of asbestos removal and lead abatement.

But the company was unimpressed, according to EEOC.

Lopez, the president, “told Ms. Gaines that as a woman, she would have to prove herself,” the complaint stated. “He also told her that although women can use jackhammers, not to be surprised if the men at the site gave her a broom.”

The receptionist then requested a copy of Gaines’ certification but then declined to take it, at which point Gaines decided that applying would be a waste of time and left, EEOC stated.

Yolanda Jimenez de la Cruz called Green JobWorks in October 2017 about job opportunities but was told the company was “only hiring strong men and not women,” the complaint stated.

EEOC also alleged that the company “has regularly hired/assigned/placed workers with (its) business customers using sex-based criteria provided by the customer and … has inquired of those customer whether they desired male or, alternatively, female workers for placement/assignment with their organizations.”

In its lawsuit, EEOC seeks financial compensation – and punitive damages — for Williams, Gaines, Jimenez de la Cruz and a class of other women denied employment opportunities due to Green JobWorks’ alleged gender discrimination.

The commission also seeks a court order barring the company from “engaging in sex discrimination, including sex-discriminatory denial of hire, job assignment or work duty assignment; sex-discriminatory recruiting techniques; and any other employment practice that constitutes discrimination because of sex.”

“Redressing and deterring class-wide sex discrimination by staffing agencies and other employers is a critical law enforcement priority,” EEOC regional attorney Debra Lawrence said in the statement announcing the lawsuit. “The EEOC is committed to protecting female workers in the community from bias and to promoting equality of opportunity for all workers without regard to their gender.”

The lawsuit is docketed in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore as U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Green JobWorks LLC, No. 1:21-cv-01743-RDB.

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