Contractor Assigned Hispanic Employees to Work in More Dangerous Spaces Than Non-Hispanics, Federal Agency Charges

DENVER – Thornton-based AMI Mechanical, Inc. violated federal law by color and national origin discrim­in­ation, retaliation and records destruction, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed on June 26, 2018.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the plumbing and mechanical contractor, employed both Hispanic and white employees at the Yorkshire Apartments project in Thornton, Colo. AMI assigned non-white Hispanic employees to work in a confined space con­taining human waste and dangerous gas levels at a rate of nearly 4:1 compared to white non-Hispanic employees.

When one of the employees, Joseph Muniz, complained about the conditions and discrim­ination, his supervisor, Earl Jones, stated he would fire the Hispanic employees and “hire a bunch more . . . Mexicans” to replace them. AMI also stated in Muniz’s termination form that he had “caused a lot of problems” on the project, was permanently dismissed, and would not be recom­mended to other employers. AMI further destroyed, or failed to preserve, daily work reports for the Yorkshire Apartment Project that are relevant to the question of whether discrimination occurred there.

Such alleged conduct violates the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment because of national origin and color and retaliation against employees who oppose discrimination. Title VII also requires employers to maintain records relevant to whether unlawful employment practices have been committed. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court of Colorado (EEOC v. AMI Mechanical, Inc., Case No. 1:18-cv-01609-MEH) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, along with injunctive relief to prevent and address any future discrimination.

“Treating employees differently in job assignments because of their color or national origin violates Title VII, and we will continue to enforce our federal anti-discrimination laws,” said Elizabeth Cadle, district director for the EEOC’s Phoenix District, which includes Denver in its jurisdiction

Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Phoenix District, said, “Retaliating against an employee because he complained about national origin discrimination is another violation of federal law. Retaliation charges make up almost 50 percent of all of the discrimination complaints the EEOC receives, showing that it continues to be a major national problem that we will continue to combat.”

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.