Construction Industry Trends: July 2022 Roundup

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Phil Puccio

The construction industry still has a lot to do when it comes to preventing racism, sexism and discrimination on construction sites.

Despite DEI obligations and zero-tolerance policies implemented by many contractors in recent years, a number of acts of racism, sexual harassment and other discriminatory or inflammatory incidents on construction sites have made headlines.

In one recent high-profile incident, a noose was found at a construction site in Redmond, Washington, where Meta (formerly Facebook) is building a new facility. According to Construction Dive, a The black carpenter handed in his two-week notice period at work, after another worker reportedly gave him a handful of cotton and said, “We picked that for you.” A few days later, as the carpenter gathered his tools, he noticed his square was missing. He found it, along with a noose with his name scrawled on the ribbon holding the square. The Redmond Police Department is investigating. In Washington state, hate crimes carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

In another sling-related incident, a $200,000 reward offered by the North America Building Trades Union (NABTU) led to that Identification and Termination of an employee who allegedly hung a noose at the construction site of the Y-12 uranium processing plant near Oakridge, Tennessee, in June.

Meanwhile, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced more than a Half a million dollars in settlement payments from two construction companies accused of sexual harassment and racial discrimination. One, a Spokane Valley HVAC contractor, agreed to pay $361,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The other received a $140,000 settlement from a Waukesha, Wisc. commercial restoration firm to settle allegations of racial harassment and retaliation against black workers.

Take away: It’s really disappointing that such incidents still happen. It damages the image of the construction industry, despite the significant work that construction companies and industry associations are doing to move the needle in the right direction on diversity, equity and inclusion for all construction professionals. However, we all know that change doesn’t happen overnight. Cases like these are a good reminder that DEI initiatives should be consistently strengthened, with open dialogue not only encouraged but rewarded.

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Category – Construction

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