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Janitorial company resolves suit on behalf of Hispanic janitors and supervisors who allegedly refused to fire them

RJB Properties, Inc, a janitorial company headquartered in Orland Park, Illinois, will pay $360,000 and provide other non-monetary relief under a consent decree resolving a Title VII employment discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC on behalf of a group of Hispanic janitors.

The EEOC asserted that RJB illegally fired the janitors because of their national origin and subjected them to harassment and discriminatory work conditions that included the use of ethnic slurs and requiring that Hispanic employees perform more difficult work than non-Hispanic coworkers. The company also retaliated against two African-American supervisors by firing one and forcing the other to quit because they refused to follow the vice president’s orders to fire Hispanic employees, according to the federal agency. One of those supervisors, a man, was sexually harassed and fired for refusing to submit to his female supervisor’s sexual advances, the EEOC alleged.

A two-year consent decree entered by U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys on May 1 provides $360,000 in monetary relief to be distributed to 10 alleged victims. In addition, RJB is prohibited from engaging in national origin discrimination or harassment, sexual harassment, or retaliation. The company must also revise and distribute a policy in English and Spanish against national origin discrimination and harassment, sexual harassment, and retaliation, and provide annual training in English and Spanish to all employees regarding its policy and complaint procedure. A Spanish-speaking employee will be identified to receive complaints of discrimination or harassment and to maintain records of complaints. RJB will also provide periodic reports to the EEOC of any discrimination complaints and post a notice in English and Spanish regarding the resolution of the suit.

“EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan has made protecting the rights of vulnerable workers, like the relatively low-wage janitors here, a priority,” advised EEOC Regional Attorney John Hendrickson. “We hope our work on this case signals that this priority is not just a matter of paying lip service, but that we are putting real muscle behind it.”

The EEOC brought its lawsuit, case number 10-CV-2001, in the Northern District of Illinois.