Energy Company Sued for Racial DiscriminationJune 5, 2019
A New Jersey company is the target of a racial discrimination lawsuit, recently filed in Brooklyn federal court. Six employees allege that the managers verbally abused them with racial slurs and fired them when the workers protested.
The six African American employees, all males, had been working at the solar energy firm’s Long Island warehouse. They claim to be victims of company-wide discrimination and retaliation for registering complaints. The suit is seeking class-action status for all the employees who worked there.
PV Magazine mentioned another lawsuit from last year, when a different solar company was sued for similar reasons. Their article reported that although solar energy companies are deemed to be progressive, the industry actually has a diversity problem, with accounts of racism and a lack of diversity shown in employment data. A diversity study by the U.S. Solar industry revealed that less than eight percent of this industry’s workforce (and almost zero executives) are African American.
A Culture of Racism
According to the employees, their managers often made racist comments, and paid African American employees less than their Caucasian counterparts. One plaintiff said that his starting pay rate was $15 an hour, compared to a Caucasian co-worker with no experience that started at $22. Another employee reported that he was called “boy” and the “N-word” often, including while he was carrying heavy solar panels up onto roofs.
Complaints about racial slurs got another employee fired, who was replaced by an inexperienced, Caucasian employee who received $7 more per hour. Another story about an African American worker is also part of the suit. After dealing with the “random racism,” he complained to a manager that his fellow white workers were getting better work, and his concerns were dismissed. His job was terminated the next day.
A former foreman who complained was told by his manager that he should have been fired anyway. This plaintiff says that afterwards, the managers tried to force him to quit via a racially hostile group text. The foreman then contacted the company’s New Jersey office about the situation. He was fired through a text.
The successful, ten-year old solar company has over 1,200 employees in the United States; it plans to add another 150, and also received over seven million dollars in tax incentives last year from the NJ Economic Development Authority. The lawsuit states that taxpayers, company customers, and investors do not realize that the company’s management is discriminatory. According to the New York Times, the company is perceived as a model company because of its green reputation, but this ongoing lawsuit seems to paint a different picture.
Marlton Employment Discrimination Lawyers at McOmber & McOmber, P.C. Represent Victims of Racial Discrimination
At McOmber & McOmber, P.C., we know that your workplace is no place for discrimination, and we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact one of our experienced Marlton employment discrimination lawyers by completing an online form or call 732-842-6500 or 856-985-9800 today to schedule a free consultation. Our offices are in Red Bank and Marlton, New Jersey, and we represent clients in Cherry Hill and Middletown, New Jersey.