Puerto Rico construction contractor settles sexual harassment and discrimination case with US Department of Labor [04/02/2014]

OFCCP News Release: [04/02/2014]
Contact Name: Ted Fitzgerald or Andre J. Bowser

Phone Number: (617) 565-2075 or x2074

Fitzgerald.Edmund@dol.gov or Bowser.Andre.J@dol.gov
Release Number: 14-0363-NEW

Puerto Rico construction contractor settles
sexual harassment and discrimination case with US Department of Labor

Constructora Santiago to pay $40,000 to three female victims

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Constructora Santiago II Corp., a federal construction contractor in San Juan, Puerto Rico, will make a lump sum payment of $40,000 to three female carpenters who were sexually harassed, retaliated against and denied regular and overtime work hours comparable to those of their male counterparts. The settlement follows an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

“No person — male or female — should have to put up with the degrading and inappropriate treatment these women faced just to get a paycheck,” said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu. “There’s no excuse for that kind of behavior, and it’s particularly egregious when the discrimination takes place at work sites funded by taxpayers.”

OFCCP investigators reviewed Constructora Santiago’s employment practices and determined that the company violated Executive Order 11246 by discriminating against women in compensation and by permitting sexual harassment and retaliation against employees who complained about a hostile work environment.

Additionally, OFCCP found that Constructora Santiago did not provide adequate restroom facilities for female employees. At times, the contractor provided no restrooms for women, and female employees were forced to relieve themselves outdoors, even in the presence of male colleagues. When a restroom was available, it was not separate from the men’s restroom and was not clean. Investigators also found that female workers were subjected to unwelcome, sexually charged comments, teasing, jokes and pressure to go out on dates. The conciliation agreement entered into by Constructora Santiago and OFCCP resolves these and numerous other legal violations at the company’s construction work sites across Puerto Rico.

Under the terms of the conciliation agreement, the construction company will pay $40,000 to the three female carpenters, provide adequate toilet and changing facilities for them and develop anti-harassment policies. Constructora Santiago has also agreed to undertake extensive self-monitoring measures and training to ensure that its employment practices fully comply with Executive Order 11246, which prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Constructora Santiago has built more than $900 million worth of highways and bridges in Puerto Rico, as well as commercial and industrial structures. In January 2012, when OFCCP’s review began, the company held a federally assisted contract worth more than $10 million with the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority.

In addition to Executive Order 11246, OFCCP enforces Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. These three laws require those who do business with the federal government, both contractors and subcontractors, must follow the fair and reasonable standard that they not discriminate in employment on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran. For more information, visit http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/.

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