The Justice Department announced today the filing of a lawsuit against the Reading Parking Authority in the city of Reading, Pa., alleging that the Reading Parking Authority discriminated against former employee Henry Perez, as well as other current and former employees, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by subjecting them to harassment based upon their national origin. According to the complaint, after Perez complained about the harassment, he was subjected to retaliation, also in violation of Title VII. Title VII is a federal statute that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex and religion and prohibits retaliation against an employee who opposes an unlawful employment practice or because the employee has made a charge or participated in an investigation, proceeding or hearing under the Act.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleges that these employees were subjected to pervasive ethnic slurs, offensive comments and threats of physical harm by their co-workers and supervisors beginning as early as 2007 and continuing over a period of years. The complaint further alleges that, despite timely complaints about the harassment by the workers to their supervisors, the Reading Parking Authority failed to take meaningful steps to stop the harassment, prevent further harassment or discipline the harassers but, instead, disciplined Perez because his complaints of discrimination were offensive to his co-workers. Through this lawsuit, the United States seeks declarative and injunctive relief requiring the Reading Parking Authority to develop and implement policies that prevent its employees from being subjected to harassment based upon national origin and retaliation, as well as monetary damages for the victims of the employer’s discriminatory actions.
“No one should have to endure unlawful harassment due to their national origin or retaliation for speaking out against such discrimination,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Through our partnership with the EEOC, the Civil Rights Division continues to vigorously enforce the nation’s laws barring discrimination in employment and to work to realize the promise of equal employment opportunity.”
Perez filed a charge of discrimination and retaliation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), whose Philadelphia District Office investigated the matter, determined there was reasonable cause to believe that discrimination and retaliation had occurred, and referred the matter to the Department of Justice.
“The EEOC is committed to ensuring that employees are not subjected to unlawful discrimination and harassment based on their national origin. Employers must stop cruel and humiliating victimization of vulnerable employees when it is brought to their attention, instead of taking adverse action against them," said EEOC District Director Spencer H. Lewis Jr., of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office. “Our close collaboration with the Department of Justice is vital to ensuring that workplaces are free from bias.”
The continued enforcement of Title VII has been a priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the work of Civil Rights Division is available on its website at www.usdoj.gov/crt/emp/index.html .