BALTIMORE — A Baltimore staffing agency for federal contractors allegedly hired Hispanic construction laborers, and then harassed and discriminated against them. It also allowed supervisors of other federal contractors to assault them physically, make racial slurs, and threaten them with deportation. The allegations were made in a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.
The suit also alleges that WMS Solutions LLC discriminated against non-Hispanic applicants, intentionally paid female workers less per hour than males and assigned fewer work hours to African American, Caucasian and female laborers.
The department alleges that since at least Feb. 1, 2011, WMS favored hiring Hispanic laborers, and that company managers knowingly permitted abusive practices by supervisors at their work sites. In addition to physical and verbal abuse and harassment, supervisors intimidated laborers with videos of detained and deported Hispanic workers. Despite knowing of the illegal harassment, WMS managers took no action to stop it.
"WMS allowed workers it hired to be exploited and abused. It denied job opportunities to qualified workers based on race and ethnicity. It underpaid female workers and assigned fewer work hours based on race and gender," said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu. "We have taken action on behalf of these workers. OFCCP is prepared to use every tool at its disposal to ensure that no federal contractors and subcontractors engage in discrimination or harassment."
OFCCP discovered the company's discriminatory practices in its review to determine WMS' compliance with Executive Order 11246. The order prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin. OFCCP filed its complaint with the department's Office of Administrative Law Judges after it did not secure an agreement from WMS to pay back wages and interest to the affected workers; extend job offers to the rejected applicants; and provide a working environment for its employees free of harassment, intimidation and coercion.
WMS is a Baltimore-based company specializing in asbestos removal and demolition. The company provides laborers to federal contractors performing construction work on projects in the Washington, D.C., area. At the time that the alleged discrimination and harassment occurred, the company held federal construction subcontracts totaling more than $6 million for projects involving the General Services Administration, National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of the Navy.
OFCCP enforces Executive Order 11246, the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. As amended, these three laws prohibit those doing business with the federal government, both contractors and subcontractors, from discriminating in employment on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or status as a protected veteran. For general information, call OFCCP's toll-free helpline at 800-397-6251 or visit its website at http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/.
# # #
Perez v. WMS Solutions LLC Docket Number: 2015-OFC-00009