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Sheet Metal Union Resolves Race-Based Discharge from Apprenticeship Program with EEOC

Local  25 Discharged Black Apprentice Due to Race Despite Long-Standing Ruling on  Prior Discriminatory Acts, Federal Agency Charged

The apprenticeship  school affiliated with a New Jersey construction trade union will pay $34,500  and provide substantial remedial relief to settle a discrimination claim by the  U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced  today.  The EEOC had charged that Joint  Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC) of Sheet Metal Workers Local 25 discharged  a black apprentice because of his race just two weeks before he was to graduate  from the four-year apprenticeship program. 

The EEOC's findings arose from its  investigation of the apprentice's appeal of his dismissal, which he filed with  the court-appointed special master who monitors Local 25 and its JATC pursuant  to past judicial findings of race and national origin discrimination.  According to the EEOC, the JATC violated the  court's previous orders by summarily discharging the apprentice for alleged  poor perform­ance just days before he was to complete the program and be  promoted to journeyman status.  The JATC  imposed this severe sanction despite the apprentice satisfactorily completing  virtually the entire eight-term program and despite his complaints about  inadequate on-the-job training from biased contractors.  

Race discrimination violates Title  VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as the court's prior orders on  journeyperson referral and access to apprenticeship opportunities.  The  EEOC's settlement of the apprentice's appeal has been approved by U.S. District  Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New  York (civil action no. 71 Civ. 2877).   In addition to paying the  apprentice $34,500, under the consent decree, the JATC will make significant  improvements regarding how apprentices are evaluated and kept appraised of their  educational progress.  The decree also  requires the JATC to appoint an ombudsperson to investigate complaints of bias  brought by apprentices regarding classroom instruction, access to on-the-job opportunities,  and any other aspect of the apprenticeship process.  The EEOC continues to monitor Local 25 and  the JATC's compliance with the court's orders on recruiting, recordkeeping and  referral systems.

"The EEOC  is pleased that Local 25 JATC worked with us to reach this settlement, which  will benefit not only the individual who was harmed but all apprentices who  come after him," said EEOC New York District Office Director Kevin Berry.

EEOC's New York Regional Attorney Robert  D. Rose added, "The EEOC is committed to ensuring that all construction trade  apprentices are able to complete their education free from discrimin­ation, and  go on to fulfilling careers.  The EEOC  will continue to enforce prior court orders to make sure that the covered  unions, as well as those contractors who work with them, do not limit the  opportunities of apprentices and workers of color." 

Eliminating discriminatory barriers  to recruitment and hiring is one of EEOC's six nationwide priorities identified  in its FY 2013-16 Strategic Enforcement Plan.

© Copyright U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity CommissionNational Law Review, Volume IV, Number 201
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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

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